I'm here today to tell you about a topic I can speak about for hours -one that can make your business or break it.
Something we resist putting into place, yet is the only way to be successful.
A subject that strikes fear into the heart of detail avoiders, like me.
That's right. That's why I can talk about it. Because I'm a reformed systems-avoider!
Systems can be the downfall of your business...
Or they can be the saving grace. It all depends on whether you implement them or not.
It was only when I discovered and implemented systems, that my work life changed in a big way for the better. And come to think of it systems changed my non-work life, too.
Basic systems you need for your business
You need a system to capture your potential clients, a system to communicate with them, a system to answer the same questions people ask. You need a system to make sure every element works between your website, email, Facebook and Twitter.
A system for billing. A system for knowing what to talk or write or tweet about to keep your readers engaged. A system to keep your schedule on track. Pretty much everything in your business needs to be in a system. If you begin to implement them one at a time, it won't seem so overwhelming.
Let's start with 5 basic systems.
1. Your List
Some people say this is the most valuable thing in your business. Why? Because your list is made up of the people who've literally raised their hand by physically signing up to hear from you.
They want to know what's up with you. They like you. And you have the means to send messages right into their email inbox. They've said they want you to tell them about what you're doing, what you're selling and what's upcoming.
Which is why I'm amazed whenever I speak to a room full of business owners and I ask "Who has a list here?" And fewer than half the people raise their hands. This happens most of the time.
If you want a healthy business, you need a list to send emails or ezines or some other kind of updates to keep your "peeps" in relationship with you. To let them know you care. You do care don't you? I hope so. Then be the one to keep in touch with them.
And if you ever want to sell your business, the money is in the list, not only in the sales you've made, but in the price someone will pay you for a business with a super list.
So get started on your list if you haven't already. Which means putting an opt-in box on your website (another system) and sending out a regular email to your list to keep in touch. To keep your relationship fresh. Yes, your email is another system.
2. Email management system
I'm going to tell it to you plain and simple. Just last week I told another business owner at my women's networking meeting that she would be in hot water if she did one particular thing.
See, she had just told us she was finally launching her blog. And I knew she was collecting names to put on her new email list. So I told her that if she sent all those names an email through her own email address or even a business email address, her email provider would shut her down. Pronto.
Plus her emails would never reach their intended audience. They would go right into the addressee's spam filter. And she could be banned from emailing ever again from her own email address.
There are very strict rules about not spamming people. Think about it-don't you hate it when you get an unsolicited email from someone who writes to you as though you're their best friend?
Spam is a huge problem.
And the blogosphere has reacted by putting stringent rules into place about spamming. So any activity-no matter how innocent on your part-that doesn't comply with the rules is suspicious. And the email providers usually work in the favor of the recipient.
The result of all this is some pretty strict spam-management.
When you send out an email from a regular email address and send it to a large number of people, you look like a spammer.
So the best way, the safest way, the surest way, the way that all legitimate businesses use to get their messages out to their list is by using an email contact manager.
These companies, like AWeber, constant contact, icontact, emma, and free ones like Mailchimp, all are recognized as legitimate businesses by email providers, so their email gets through. Some are better than others.
The cream of the crop, recommended by most in-the-know legitimate online marketers is AWeber. It costs some money per month, but it's one of those "must do" costs of running your business. It makes your business work correctly.
You can find out about it here: http://www.aweber.com
Frequently asked questions. This is a simple system you can put into action as you go. You'll soon begin to realize that people ask you some of the same questions over and over.
It's easy enough to create a separate file on your computer containing documents that you use over and over.
One might be, literally, "frequently asked questions." You can copy the answer to any FAQ and send out in an email or respond to someone on Facebook with one of them.
Of course you also want a section, probably under your "about" tab, actually called "frequently asked questions" that addresses a lot of them at once.
In addition, in your file, you'll want other frequently accessed documents-for example, your policies and procedures statement, a welcome letter for new sign-ups to your major product or program, a thank you for those same people.
Your most important numbers need to be in there, too-your tax ID number, your passwords for access to your website, your email content manager and the rest of the business passwords you need.
4. Editorial calendar
If you plan your ezine topics and your blog post topics ahead of time, you can cut down on your writing time by more than half.
It's much easier to sit down to write if you know what you're going to write about than it is to try to just sit and come up with something worthwhile on cue.
An editorial calendar will help your business if you plan your topics around your business offerings, too. Say you're offering a special in the first week of March, June, and September. You can write your content to address each of those promotions. Planning it out ahead of time will be a relief in the long run.
5. Google calendar
This is the easiest online calendar I've used. Access it here: https://www.google.com/calendar/
With Google calendar, you can layer on multiple calendars, for example, one for your business meetings only, one for your editorial calendar, one for our events, one for your personal appointments. And you can color-code the calendars, seeing all of them at once, one at a time, or any combination in-between.