Choosing the right technology for your business as a new entrepreneur can be an overwhelming thing. There are multiple choices and categories of systems. Then there are all the things you believe you need and discover along the way. Having a system in place that helps you narrow down the field in terms of choice can save you time, frustration and money — that is where having established workflows comes in.
What is a workflow?
A workflow is the steps you take to consistently produce an item of content, or design and build a new product or service. Having established workflows will help you to ensure consistency in your work product, but also some predictability in time and resources that you will use. This is helpful for budgeting, time and resource planning and allocation — key indicators that we all need when running a business.
What if I don’t have any workflows?
There are two ways to look at this. As a total newbie you may not have any and so are a blank canvas and can create your workflows as you start to create the various aspects of your business. Alternatively, you already have a business and although you think that you don’t have any workflows, this is probably not the case. It’s more likely that you do, but, they are not documented or you don’t realise that they are workflows.
Document your workflows
When you are next working in an area of your business start a document or make notes on all the steps you take to complete a task. Make a note of any links that you regularly follow and any alternatives, the apps that you use etc. This is your starter workflow — as you scale your business remember to review and edit your workflows as you grow. Things change in life and in business and over time things that once worked, no longer do. When this happens don’t be afraid to change something because it no longer fits with your business model or direction. Save all of these in a central place as you build them over time — they form a part of your business processes. When you are ready to hire or sub-contract areas of work you have a simple guide that you can pass on to help with your on-boarding and handover processes — bonus.
How does this help me with tech?
As you look for new software to help improve your productivity an issue that appears consistently is how to assess whether a particular system is right for you. If you have established workflows you already know the steps that you need to take to achieve your outcome. These can be used as a measure to include products in your shortlist. Some of the questions you should be asking when choosing a new tech tool for your business are:
What can this do that I need? What additional features does this have that I may need in the future? How easy is this for me to use? What does this cost?
What can this do that I need now and in the future?
This will be informed by your workflows, for example, if you are looking for a social media scheduler and know that you need:
- a way to bulk upload your content,
- integrate with a number of platforms,
- curate other content easily,
- repurpose your content where appropriate
- and your budget is $25 a month
when you start your search you immediately discount any of the tools that don’t include these features. Now you have a shorter list from which you can distinguish any additional benefits or features that could be useful.
How easy is this for me to use?
This is totally subjective as the scope for tech capabilities is so wide. Frustration and lack of time also have a part to play here. What is easy for one person to use is a complete mind melt for another. Take the time to use the free trial, where available, and see if this is easy to use for YOU. Does it integrate well with the tools you already work with in your business and are included in your workflows? Also use reviews to research the product its capabilities.
How much does this cost?
This is a more straightforward comparison. As you take a deeper look at products some price comparisons will make a great product appear to be either a valuable bargain, or an expensive option that doesn’t do nearly as much as it could. I prefer to get more bang for my buck providing it works — sometimes there are a lot of features but they don’t quite work. I find that annoying and disappointing and would choose something that does less well over a feature rich product that is temperamental.
Although the example here is for a social media scheduler this can be used across your business. Creating or documenting the workflows will not add any additional time or effort to your workload — in most cases you already have them at least in part in your mind. For me they serve many purposes:
- As a final check that I have completed all the steps I need for a particular task
- A roadmap through various areas of my business
- Ensure that I am providing the service level that I want to, and do offer to my clients
- A way to manage my business overall
- Time and productivity planning
- Choosing tools and resources for myself and clients
Using workflows as a guide to inform your tech tool choices can be invaluable and save you a lot of time and frustration. They not only help you to create order and structure in managing your tasks, but are an excellent resource to use to inform your choices for technology that will boost your productivity and help you to automate and scale your business effectively. It is never too early to start using them, and once you have established them, you will wonder why you didn’t do so earlier.
Grab your FREE sample workflows
Want to create your own workflows but need some inspiration?
Creating and updating workflows can be tough. Grab your free inspiration guide with workflows you can customise and integrate into your business today!
Send me the workflows
- How to use Workflows to choose your Systems
- 5 Essential Systems for my Business
- 4 ways to use Asana to manage your Service based Business