Ironically, as part of my role is “personal shopper for tech,” I hit a glitch a couple months ago where my own systems stopped working. Part of it was due to tools being bought out and no longer delivering what I needed. But a lot was because my scope has expanded so much this year with new clients and the PATH game promotion!
Just when things are going well, it can be time for a systems review!
As you’re looking at how you’ve expanded your business this year, take a moment to consider whether your tools and processes have kept up with your capacity.
I was playing my Monday morning PATH game in October, asking about how to connect more deeply with people who were considering working with me, and all the tiles came up with Systems (Forest images). That made no sense to me! I expected insight around doing my inner work around communication, or maybe setting a new strategy for outreach. But systems??
Yet when these insights come up – especially that emphatically – I pay attention. So I checked into my contact app. And it was a total mess! The addresses had gotten scrambled! What the? Turns out the app had been bought out and mismanaged. So I checked my relationship app – people were missing. And all the scrambled mess had gotten sync’d to my phone. Yes, indeed, my system DID need some attention!
How is your contact integration really working now? Maybe rather than tracking a handful of people you want to follow up with, you now have 20 or 50 on your active list. Some are potential clients. Some are potential collaborators. Some are speaking hosts. Some are new-found soul friends!
When you have to check three different places to find an email or a phone number, it’s time to automate your consolidation. Whether someone connects with you via text or email or business card, everything needs to go to a central repository, then out to all your “viewers” consistently so you don’t waste your precious time searching for it in the future.
You’ll probably end up with either Google or Apple contacts as your hub, but I don’t actually look at contacts in either of those. How are the apps you interact with serving you now?
And it’s not just storing their name, address, and phone number. If you have an ongoing conversation with someone, let the computer track when you last spoke, what you discussed, and when you want to connect again. Don’t try to carry all that in your head for dozens of people!
Where and When
Another thing that changed in my business this year has been enjoying so many more in-person visits than when I lived up on the mountain in California. Now there are some networking meetings I like, coffee dates, and several local clients I enjoy visiting.
I discovered in a hurry that I need to block off my drive time to get around town so my online scheduler doesn’t pick just that time for a zoom meeting! I had to get much more thorough in planning out my own breathing time and claiming it.
Or you might be growing your business online and where things used to be all over town, now you need to arrange where to meet online. I’ve been putting much more information into my calendar entries to support my future self – I just copy and paste from a chat or an email into the location or notes for what to bring. I sure don’t have time to jump back into the email program to search for that message and dig out the address again later!
And if you’re not able to use an automated scheduling program for your clients or collaborators because you still carry a paper planner, we should probably talk. I LOVE my paper journal and writing with beautiful pens, but scheduling time with other people needs to be accessible to those other people.
What and How
Early in the year the task management program I’d been using got upstaged by a freeform database that other people recommended. I know, I know. This is the sirens’ call to me. But out of all the tools I test out and track for various clients, this one really had me intrigued. So I moved all my projects into it. Now keep in mind, due to my brain injury, I have EVERYthing to do in the computer. Not everyone has to go that far! Moving to a new system takes me more than a minute.
I had fun playing with the software (when perhaps I should have been doing “real work”) and got it working just beautifully.
But I was making myself nuts jumping between my system and the one that several of my Operations clients were using. So I decided to simplify my life and just move into a simpler tool so I could have everything in one place.
Quite possibly as you’ve tried new marketing strategies and new ways to deliver your programs over time or through groups, you have more moving parts to handle than you did a year ago. Has your day planner or spreadsheet become awkward?
As you bring in an assistant or team, are your processes for getting things done still working smoothly? Honestly, I documented the tasks I do for my Operations clients and I still relax into those steps for monthly and quarterly tasks, the same way a pilot uses an actual checklist for every flight.
Why can’t we just find The One Perfect Tool and stay with it?
Well, to a certain extent most people can (if it’s not a hobby like it is for me).
Consider though – do you ever get a new car? Why? Sometimes a family outgrows the space or features. Sometimes you want something more luxurious – or simpler. Sometimes you need specific new capabilities, like pulling a trailer or handling weather. Sometimes the car becomes too old to maintain and parts are no longer made.
But the truth is, we outgrow software just the same way. It’s not a “failure.”
No one in my world wants to build a business than then becomes just “turn the crank” the same forever after. We are growing and changing all the time. And the software apps are also growing and changing (or dying). Change is. Build the review into your cycle so you can stay on top of it!
Reconsider how your scope has expanded this year – have your systems kept up?
Ready for a revamp? Let's talk about how well your systems align with who you actually are and what you're building!
(That was easy, wasn't it?!?)