By the time I was 12, I was a budding entrepreneur—babysitting, cleaning houses, feeding pets. I hustled around my neighborhood of busy moms, building a small group of “clients” who would fill my nights and weekends with paying gigs.
But I needed more money if I ever hoped to see the inside of a college.
So just after my 16th birthday, I won my first “real” job at McDonalds, taking orders and flipping burgers. It was a revelation.
They had a system for literally everything. There was a training program with materials, quizzes and a buddy system. Every station had a checklist for opening the store, closing the store, cleaning equipment.
I even had to memorize (and can still recite today) the 10 ingredients in a McDonald’s hamburger (sadly, my Silver Spatula award didn’t survive).
Now my homelife as a teenager was the opposite of organized—in fact it was usually nothing short of chaos. So all this smooth order at work appealed to me.
I started to pay attention to how to become more efficient and I began setting up my own systems in the rest of my life. Seriously, I credit being a McDonalds crew kid with launching me successfully from my teens.
To this day, I’m obsessed with how things get done and always looking for a better way to save time on the essential tasks so I can enjoy myself creating and selling (the fun stuff).
Why am I telling you all this?
So you’ll understand why you must create systems in your consulting or advisory business. It’s not to waste your time on the trivial, but to free you (and your creative brain) to focus on the important stuff.
Think of it like Steve Jobs wearing a black turtleneck and jeans every day so he didn’t have to spend time deciding what to wear.
Systems are decisions you don’t have to make because they’re on autopilot.
Every business—whether you’re a solo or have a dozen employees—needs to have essential systems to guide its operation.
Let’s take a few examples.
You set up an automated series of emails—using your best content and creative copywriting skills—to build your digital list.
You set up WRITTEN procedures (or a checklist) for any part of your business that is repetitive. This allows you to do it yourself without wasting brainpower or—better still—offload it to someone else.
I use this for:
- Setting up a blog post
- Sending broadcast emails
- Recording podcasts or videos
- Distributing posts, podcasts and videos
- Setting up conference calls or zooms (all pertinent information is in one place)
- Setting up sequences and automations in my email marketing client
- Editing and posting original content on other platforms
And of course, you may invest in electronic systems to keep you organized or on top of your game:
- Sales or lead management
- Email automation
- Online calendars
- Email filtering (I’m a new fan of SaneBox)
- Client billing
I have clients where getting a request to speak triggers a procedural checklist (that their VA translates to their calendars), in one case right down to what goes in their suitcase (now THAT’S organized).
I’ve watched all sorts of industry pros take their first deep breath in months once we made a plan.
Because literally the second you write it down, your mind can stop worrying about that part of your work and go on to focus on something more interesting that only you can accomplish.
So why not try it? This week, pick one thing that is routinely annoying you that a system could fix—and attack it with all you’ve got.
You’ve got this…
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