As a service-based business owner, you most likely have a certain way of getting things done.
From marketing your services to contacting your clients, you must have a system—processes, tools, people, and strategies—that all together run your business, right?
But the same way that there are good systems and there are great systems, there are also bad systems or ones that are counterproductive, overly expensive, and time-consuming.
For example, in order for potential clients to inquire about your services, what do they need to do exactly?
Do they need to visit your website contact page to find your email address? Or do you provide a form for them to fill out? If so, does this form contain a simple box for their name and message? Or does it include a set of qualifying questions they must answer first?
Once they submit an inquiry, do they have to wait for you to see their message and then send them a response? Or do you have an autoresponder set up with a helpful and informative message?
And how do you receive these client inquiries? Are they sent to your email inbox? Do you receive a text message? And do you have it all captured in a spreadsheet for future reference?
So while a system is defined as a set of processes, tools, people, and strategies that all work together to solve a problem or achieve a goal, there’s still the matter of making your systems the most streamlined, efficient, and effective it can be based on your business goals.
Streamlining your systems is important because then your business can run like a well-oiled machine. And when a huge portion of your business is running smoothly and with less supervision, you can step back and let the systems do the work for you, thereby making you a smarter and more productive business owner.
You’re then free to focus on more high-touch and profitable activities that are the best use of your time, energy, skills, and expertise, all while you generate more and more profits.
But while there are many components that work together to run your service-based business, below are the five systems you most need to streamline.
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Your operations includes activities that run your business efficiently and effectively on the backend.
The goal for this system is to have every single one of your projects, tasks, workflows, files, folders, templates, emails, meetings, appointments, and reminders accounted for and organized.
For starters, you might want to have a calendar, professional email, scheduling app, and project management tool to run your business operations.
Why this is important: Running a business can easily get overwhelming without proper structure and organization so you’ll need a way to record and monitor everything all at the same time. You’ll want to make sure nothing ever falls through the cracks and you’re always on track to hit your business goals.
02. Marketing and Sales
Your business needs a way to consistently attract and convert people into clients and this is done through your marketing and sales system.
Others might narrow this down and use terms such as content marketing, inbound marketing, list building, lead generation, sales funnels, etc. but whichever route you choose, the goal for this system is to have your business supplied with a constant stream of people eager to book your services.
Why this is important: As a service-based business, clients are your bread and butter. But rather than personally going to each person one by one and convincing them to book your services, streamlining your marketing and sales system is a strategic way for you to reach more people and get booked out.
Recommended starter tools: your website, blogging, SEO, email marketing software (I use ConvertKit), and social media
03. Accounting and Finances
As a business owner, it’s important to know your numbers and this is where your system for accounting or finances comes in.
You’ll want to have a streamlined way to handle the money aspect of your business from bookkeeping to paying yourself, generating reports to filing taxes, invoicing clients to following up with payments, etc.
Why this is important: While some service-based entrepreneurs tend to shy away from this aspect of their business, taking your accounting and finances seriously is the key to making informed business decisions, keeping your business afloat, and ultimately, growing your business.
04. Client Process
As you streamline your business operations, finances, and sales and marketing, don’t forget the most crucial part—actually delivering what you promise to your clients.
As a service-based business owner, do you promise a design and branding service? A wedding photography package? A five-week coaching program? A 3-month health and fitness intensive?
From the initial stage of booking your services to the final stage of completing the service (some industries call these the on-boarding to off-boarding phases), the goal for this system is to provide an exceptional experience for your clients from beginning to end. At the very least, you must deliver what your clients paid for but it helps to also add creative ways to delight and impress them.
Why this is important: A streamlined client process system allows you to give your clients the best experience while working with you. When done effectively, this leads to amazing testimonials, ongoing referrals, repeat business, a solid reputation, and many more.
05. Customer Relationship Management or CRM
Customer Relationship Management or CRM is a strategy for managing a business’ relationships and interactions with both potential and actual clients.
The keyword here is relationship.
Each potential client that encounters your business is valuable and must be nurtured. And even after you’ve converted someone into a paying client, it doesn’t end there. They can still hire you again in the future, refer you to others, and be your most valuable source in knowing how to improve your business.
The goal of a CRM system is to organize and store your customer data and interactions across multiple channels. Along with having clients’ contact details, emails, notes, meetings, and conversations all in one place, your CRM can also tell you where a specific client is in your sales pipeline so that you can deliver whatever is timely and necessary to move them to the next stage.
Why this is important: Your service-based business depends on the relationships you build with both your potential clients and actual clients. Knowing how to nurture those relationships in a genuine, helpful, and strategic way will dictate the success or failure of your business.
There are certain processes, tools, people, and strategies required to run your business on a daily basis. But keep in mind that the more streamlined your service-based business systems are, the more productive, consistent, and profitable you can be.
Consider focusing on your operations, marketing and sales, accounting and finances, client process, and CRM to run your service-based business like a well-oiled machine and scale it successfully.
Share in the comments below: What’s your biggest takeaway from this article? Which of these systems do you already have in place? Which do you still need to streamline?