Systems are designed to help you be successful. They provide a pattern and a plan of action and in the business world they are developed to help create a positive outcome. Technology today has provided us with a much easier way to be consistent about the process of doing business. Why reinvent a system (read: spend a boatload of money) when there are so many no cost or low cost options at your fingertips? Here are three areas where putting a system in place has significantly impacted my business (for the better) and would help yours as well.
Getting your word out has never been easier. Applications like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Emma and a host of others allow you to spread your message to thousands with the click of a button or two. Email campaigns look professional, easy to set up and the results are measurable. As a business owner, I love that I am able to compete with the big boys while keeping my budget at an affordable level and in the black.
Speaking of balance sheets, programs like QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Xero and FreeAgent are four low cost options for your accounting needs. This is not your father’s accounting (starring Harvey the accountant), but instead, a budget friendly way to send invoices, branded with your company logo and colors, run reports, send estimates and quotes to clients and much more. Accounting goes far beyond filing your taxes. Leave the tough stuff to the professionals, but consider take over the “marketing” portion of accounting yourself.
One of my favorite ways to determine future services to offer my clients is by polling them. The best source of information is, of course, my clients. I have found emailing a multiple choice survey to them helps me develop the services they most request. Quality control and evaluation surveys are a snap to build and the results are potentially huge. And just like email campaigns and accounting, there are many low and no cost options for survey development. I love Wufoo for ease of use and customization. Two other form and survey design tools I have heard positive things about are FormStack and JotForm.
Blogger’s warning: Let technology be your friend and embrace the tools that are readily available to you. However, do not use it as a crutch to avoid personal communication. Never use technology in place of human contact. If you have a choice to have a meeting face to face or send your client a survey, have the face to face meeting. Let the systems in place help you work with the masses. Want an edge over your competition? Develop a system, be consistent, use technology to your advantage, but mostly, be human.