(Based on The Back Office Podcast Episode 3: The One With The Tools of Trade)
In this entry let’s dive into a critical part of operations that often gets overlooked. I’d like to believe most business owners know that this part is important but perhaps because it’s so interwoven in our daily business activities, we hardly notice it.
I talk a lot about the importance of Operations and now it’s time to dig deeper.
Let’s take a look at the tools of our trade – the software, platforms and other resources that support our daily tasks and long-term objectives.
Using these tools the right way makes us work smarter, not harder.
A common pattern I’ve observed especially among budding online entrepreneurs (and even in six-figure entrepreneurs) is a tendency to focus on immediate goals.
Often, when we business owners hyperfocus on these goals, we forget about addressing them with tools and resources that are familiar and accessible.
Here’s the situation: To deal with tasks, we naturally reach for a tool we know can get the job done. And that’s okay! That’s always gonna be your starting point.
But you can actually simplify this.
In this blog, I want to share with you a shortcut in building a working ecosystem for your tools and systems.
It all begins from shifting from a purely “get-things-done” mindset to a systems and process-driven operation.
Setting the scene:
I know there was a point in our journeys as entrepreneurs where we were used to just putting out fires as they came.
Whatever may come – whether it’s a last-minute request from a client or an error made by a VA – we just react and adapt to it.
This may seem effective at first but when scaling, these things can cause so many headaches. And you also don’t want it to be the tone you set for your business’ operations… especially as you grow.
Imagine having multiple clients and having to deal with more and more tasks and corrective measures. Purely dealing with something as it comes isn’t ideal anymore.
So this is where I start to lay it all out to develop a roadmap for your processes so you and everyone in your team can efficiently navigate your business.
The first crucial step is to establish clear and streamlined Standard Operating Procedures.
The smallest businesses to Fortune 500 companies all have this. Whether it be a set of documents and manuals or a collection of graphs and outlines – the most important thing for the SOPs to clearly indicate are all your processes.
To develop it, you have to know your business in and out.
- • What are the routinely to-dos and your operations?
- • Which tasks are needed to accomplish which deliverable?
- • Who can be tapped to finish certain tasks and what should they do to accomplish it?
Having all these details sorted out and listed down paves a way for your effective delegation.
As far as platforms are concerned, Google Documents is popular for this purpose. Other tools like Tango and Loom are also some fantastic choices you can also explore.
Pro-tip: Pair your SOPs with checklists! Although SOP documents are important, they will be rarely referenced by your team. But, having a checklist based on your SOPs paints everyone a picture of what specific tasks need to be done.
When it comes to managing the processes, get the help of tools like Asana, Trello, Click Up, or Monday. These platforms will actually be helpful in seamlessly sharing SOPs and creating checklists for you.
For a really solid SOP, make sure the entire team has access to it at all times. Have a library of these resources that is easily reachable. The simplest form could be using a Google Sheet, but Airtable and Notion are also efficient choices.
Now onto monitoring.
Of course, as the one running the business, you have to check and review everything so you have to make sure that you have a system for data tracking.
Identify the key metrics that drive these businesses forward. This is not only crucial for you but for your clients too. These data points help your clients make smart business decisions.
When you’re providing business operations, there’s a lot of trial and error. Some strategies might work, while some won’t make any kind of mark. With good tracking, however, you can easily figure these things out.
When you have data, you can confidently double down on an initiative that you know is working. You can also simply kill an initiative when it doesn’t provide results.
Even if you’re not yet a six-figure business, I suggest these methods as it can make scaling easier. You can even start by logging everything into a Google Sheets document!
But, of course, be open as you grow. Maybe you can try Airtable because it provides more flexibility in terms of connecting your resource library and automating some aspects.
Other options could be dashboard or reporting platforms like Klipfolio, but personally, I have found Airtable to be the best for us so far.
Another essential system is for massive content production. As you grow as an online-based business, you see the need to create content at a higher scale. In doing this you’ll aim for repetition and recency.
In my own business, over time we’ve developed a system to maximize their existing content and distribute it to various platforms. This way, we are able to produce content on a regular basis without immediately relying on the creation of brand-new content.
I call it content repurposing, and I know you can do it too!
For content management we use Airtable in tandem with our project management platform, (often Asana or Trello) for other tools for editing. Our current favorites are vidyo.io, [repurpose.io](http://repurpose.io) and opus.
When needed we also even get the support of ChatGPT, Jasper and transcription tools like descript to help speed up the content repurposing process.
So how involved is the CEO in this?
The CEO only needs to create the content sources. Everything else could just be delegated.
If you’ve established your SOPs and tools and platforms, then you truly are on your way.
I’m actually very happy about how we developed this system because I’ve seen how it has really helped our clients. I am very glad that we are so open to supporting entrepreneurs with this at Hello, Simple Social!
A robust client management system in relation to your SOP is vital. This where you can track client interactions, manage leads and so on.
So how do you go about this relationship efficiently?
I once did a google search to see that the best CRM out there is and I was referred to Hubspot or Salesforce. But I’ve realized this is most effective only if you have a sales team. Otherwise, if it’s all about marketing, then just maximize your email marketing platform through mailing platforms. Our favorites are ActiveCampaigns and Mailerlite.
You can also integrate this to your project management system via Zapier so you can continue to nurture your potential clients and never lose money from not doing a follow up.
Pro-tip: Take advantage of tools that help you find and nurture clients. It pays to be able to do follow-ups, trust me!
Financial management is also another crucial system.
Having a solid financial management system can provide a crystal clear picture of the health of your business. This can then help you make important decisions.
The truth is it’s nice to close sales, or achieve up to 6-figure launches but how do you get there? And how do you always get this same financial result?
I’ve learned that it really is about having your Operations, Tools and Finances in sync!
Honestly, this part is not always fun but at the very least you get a clear understanding of your real ROI and cash flow situation. Use this and develop projections.
A good financial management system helps you set profit-based business goals.
The goal is to make the most bang for your buck!
Example: Don’t just aim for 100k sales. You also have to look into lowering your operational costs.
For tools or platforms, financial management can easily be integrated into your payment system, your CRM and even your project management platforms through Zapier.
This is very helpful for invoicing and even data tracking. Honestly, if you’ve got a really good system you’ll only need input and output cashflow in its entirety. Then if you want to take it up a notch, add your projection and pair it with goals.
Take the time to imagine all of these elements working together: The SOPs, your data tracking, your content creation together with client and finance management. With the right tools to connect every aspect, it’s going to be pretty seamless!
The key takeaway here is simple: systems and processes are not just fancy add-ons for your business.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the right tools. They aid our day-to-day tasks and help us deliver quality results. But more than the tools, it’s about building an ecosystem – a solid operational framework that supports and facilitates your business growth.
Over the years I’ve come to understand that no successful business owner reaches milestones alone. So leverage the support available to you – whether it’s your team, a mentor, or a trusted online resource!
Moving forward, be open to thinking beyond just getting things done.
Thinking about how you can build or improve a system that will not only solve your current challenge but also future-proof your business? Feel free to check out our content or DM me on Instagram at @thehomebasedworker