When you first boldly said the words, “I’m going to start my own business,” I can 100% guarantee you most likely didn’t follow that sentence up with, “…and I’m going to start by building a workflow!” * crickets crickets *
Am I right? In an online business world full of tech terms, applications, and the ‘top 5 newest social platforms your business needs, a workflow can feel like the absolute last thing you want to worry about. But here’s the thing, Workflows are your golden ticket to less time behind your computer, less stress, and ease of mind knowing your clients (and your business) are being taken care of while you’re not in CEO mode. In just a few simple steps, I’m going to give you the method you need to outline an efficient workflow you can implement today in your business. Keep reading to get your 5 Steps to a Stellar Workflow.
What is a workflow anyway?
Imagine walking into a dimly lit cocktail bar, rated 5-stars for its exceedingly tasteful drink menu. You sit down at the bar and order an Old Fashioned, a local favorite according to the reviews. Your mixologist, in a mysterious fashion, begins mixing and spritzing and hands you a lowball glass. You take that first sip, ready to enjoy the explosion of flavors and notes of orange only to realize… the bartender forgot the spirits. Now, you just got yourself a plain ole’ glass of whiskey.
Well, a business without workflows is just a plain ole’ list of tasks juggling around in someone’s brain. And that someone is you. A workflow takes all those loose tasks in your brain and creates a list that describes how something is done or processed. Just like those spirits take a regular glass of whiskey into something spectacular, an Old Fashioned.
Before you begin, you must know where to start.
When working with my clients in their business, whether it be through a 1:1 strategy call or through long-term high-level support, I always begin our strategy planning by grading their workflow health. In other words, this is my fancy way of knowing how much they understand about workflows and how they are currently utilizing them. This gives us our immediate starting point, showing us where we need to begin implementing workflows. If you’re new to creating workflows or your current workflows in your business need some serious doctoring, start with your money-making operations.
What processes need to happen to make my business run? (i.e. What do I do when a lead inquires with you? What needs to happen when someone is ready to book with me? How do I conduct my actual services? etc.)
You might be thinking, “why are we starting with ‘money-making’ operations?” And the answer is simple: creating effective and highly-converting client-facing operations will give you the room you need to scale, so you can then focus on enhancing your internal / back-end operations. After working with dozens and dozens of business owners in mapping their workflows and strategizing their processes, this method allows us to focus on your clients first, ensuring you’re performing at top excellence in your business and earning a consistent profit.
The 5 Steps: Outline, Build, Draft, Revise, Test
Now that you know what a workflow is and you know which processes needed an optimal workflow yesterday (no judgment, we’ve all been there), it’s time to map that flow on paper! Then, we’ll put the actions into place and test drive that sucker out to ensure efficiency and eliminate any opportunity for error
Step 1: Outline
Outline each step of your process on paper.
Example: send initial inquiry response email including consult call link, send questionnaire after client books consult call, etc.
Step 2: Build
Build out your workflow chronologically using the actions you outlined in step 1 based on their dependency and time relativity to the next step:
* Your time relativity simply means when this action will happen relevant to the project or the previous action(s).
send questionnaire [action] 48 hours [time relativity] after client books consult call [depdendency]
send reminder email [action] 24 hours [time relativity] before consult call [dependency]
Step 3: Draft
Batch all the pieces together from steps 1 & 2 and create a mock draft of your workflow. Be sure to include any content/items involved in the workflow, such as forms needed, the canned emails being sent, the lead capture forms, etc.
PRO TIP: build the actions out FIRST including the ‘base’ of the forms/emails/etc, and go back through to plug-in & perfect your content later (i.e. canned emails, links, form questions, etc).
Once you’ve drafted you’re workflow, it might look something like this:
* The example above is a workflow using Dubsado workflows & automation.
Step 4: Revise
Revisions should happen at the VERY end, once the entire workflow has been created including all of its moving pieces. This ensures you’re not making revisions over items that may be deleted or changed later. Sometimes deletions or changes can alter the entire course of a workflow, so it’s crucial to ensure steps 1-3 are accurate before moving on to revision mode. Run through your workflow (internally) to check for missing steps. Once the workflows are solid, we can take this shiny baby on a test run.
Step 5: Test
No matter where you’re using these workflows, whether they’re being automated in a CRM platform or they’re being tasked out to your VA, test test TEST! Run your workflow on a sample project/client to ensure every piece of client-facing is in its proper place. And if you’re using automation at any point, TRIPLE check!
If you follow these steps from start to finish and take your time, ensuring you’ve thought out every step of the process with clarity, you will end up with an exquisite Old Fashioned-esque mix of workflows propelling your business forward. These 5 Steps to a Stellar Workflow will allow you to craft workflows as if it were your real job. If you’re in workflow mode, get access to my free Workflow masterclass where I walk you through this exact process and implement in Dubsado.