Before You Workflow – getting started
And yes, I totally want you to hum “Before I let Go” while reading this.
So you’ve been hearing about workflows and automation and systems and Operations and maybe even Dubsado a lot lately, and you think you need it for your business.
You’ve been doing your Googles and checking out what your faves have to say about them, and end up more confused than when you started.
Well, as you will often “hear” me say: let me break it down for you so it can forever and consistently be broke. Thanks, Love Jones.
A workflow is simply a collection of steps taken to complete a task. For the purpose of this exercise, your workflow encompasses your processes and systems.
You can also consider your workflow to be a lightweight funnel. Automation refers to using a tool or tools to make steps in your workflow happen automatically, based on an action, or set of actions.
Makes sense? Good!
The overwhelm happens when you attempt automation without first sketching out your workflow.
Dang Rik, do I really have to sketch it out? Yes. Yes, you do.
How, Rik? I’m finna tell you.
Start with Why?
Your why is the basis for many things. As it pertains to workflows, ask yourself why you need this workflow to happen. Is it to get info to a potential client? Onboard a new client? Wrap up a project? Identifying the why of the workflow helps to get the process flowing.
Who is involved in this process? Who needs to do what? Knowing the “who” part of your workflow helps you to properly assign tasks, and it also helps to identify what will be needed to complete the task.
Chances are if it’s something you need to send to your client, it is going to need an email to go with it. For efficiency’s sake, you’re going to create a canned email that can be adjusted as needed before sending, rather than starting an email from scratch every time.
Ask yourself “And then what?“
First I’m gone stack my flo’ (and then what?)
Then I’m gone stack some mo’ (and then what?)
Close shop then I do my count, hide the rest of the yams at my auntie house (and then what?)
Get Fresh and jump in one of dem cars (yeah)
Hit the club and get one of dem broads (and then what?)
It’s a wrap, we on the way to the house; by 3:45 I be kickin’ her out (heyy)
— Young Jeezy ft Mannie Fresh
This is a workflow.
Write out the steps, asking yourself “and then what?” until you can’t ask it anymore as it pertains to that task. Sing it out if you have to; whatever helps you to get the job done.
This is where most people get stuck and give up. Why? Because it’s work. Work you can’t outsource or copy from someone else. I mean, technically you can copy it, but it won’t fit YOUR business, so stop pussyfooting around and git er done.
If the thought of this makes you want to cry, grab some tissues and a drank, and let the tears flow while you work. Don’t worry if you end up with a list of 100 steps at first; if it takes 100 steps to get the job done, then it takes 100 steps. The important part is that you get them documented and in some sort of order.
Now “walk” it out…
The biggest mistake I see businesses make – regardless of size – is that they choose solutions before they have documented and used their processes in “real life“. If you have an endless supply of time and money, then cool. Have at it. If you’d rather, and need to, make better use of your time and money, spend 15 minutes to an hour a day on writing down the processes for each service you offer.
WRITE. As in pen and paper.
In my Pimp My Dubsado class, when we get to this part of Prep work, I ask:
How spot on were you when you did this exercise?
And many times, the answers look like this:
I was not spot on. I missed steps because it is repetitive to me.
Writing the processes out helps you to see where the holes are. If one of your plans is to hire help, you can’t afford to have holes in your processes. You may know what comes next in your head, but someone you hire does not share your brain, no matter how good they are or how much you pay them.
Bottom line, if you’re running a business, you need to outline your workflows, at minimum. The sooner you start, the better, but getting started is key.
To help you along, I’ve got a printable for you where you can sketch out your workflow. Print it off and have fun with it – use crayons, or markers, whatever you think will help you get through this. And if you’re feeling snazzy, #beforeyouworkflow is the hashtag to use when showing off your Workflow Worksheet or giving feedback.
Until next time,
Hi! I'm Rikki (Auntee Rik to some) and as a Freelance Operations Consultant, I help business owners reduce Admin Anxiety and get their life (their words). With over 20 years experience in Operations, brand and web design, I've found that using song titles, lyrics and lines from TV and movies as reference points makes the very unsexy job of Ops and Admin a little more palatable.
Operations Consulting and Guided Instruction for Service Providers who cry in the shower when having to still answer inquiry emails after getting lit at the day party is too much.