Earlier this year, I was feeling so much frustration and stress surrounding nearly every phase of client projects in my business. I had just gone full-time and didn’t understand why I felt more stressed than I had when I was running my design business on the side. After a while, I realized something needed to change, and sure enough, it was because of anxieties surrounding my process.
I have been working on refining my process for years, but the thing that stressed me out the most was the concern that I would forget something along the way and only remember to request a certain piece of material from a client when it was already too late. So I did what any overthinker and obsesser over every aspect of their business would do – I made a list. A HUGE one.
The first thing I knew I needed to do when it came to streamlining my process was to make a list of all the tools I use to run and market my biz and what each tool is capable of doing. Some of my most used tools are Honeybook (click here for 20% off!), Notion, and the Adobe Suite, all with very different uses and capabilities.
I started a mind-map-type list to get everything out of my head. I knew that the anxieties I was dealing with surrounding my process were probably a lot less of an issue than they were in my head, so I knew this piece of paper would change my business, and boy was I right.
Before diving into the nitty-gritty of the process I listed each overall phase for my projects: “Discovery,” “Onboarding,” “Design,” “Approval,” and so on. I listed any and every task that came to mind, whether it involved designing or sending an email. I also listed everything that a client would be expected to do in each phase (Working with a designer involves some work on your end too!)
After getting everything out of my brain and on paper, I created a key for different things I thought could be templatized or automated. Purple meant it could be an InDesign template, blue meant it was an email, and so on.
The key I created helped me visualize what tools I should be using for each task in my process. It even helped me realize that a lot of tasks could be automated when I didn’t realize they could be. Finally, I was finally ready to tackle the big, daunting task of actually setting up the templates and automations, and trust me… I put it off for a while.
For weeks, the task “Work on Streamlining my Process” just sat there staring at me on my business hub Notion Dashboard. Every time I looked at it I started to feel overwhelmed and overcome with even more stress, worried that it would take forever and not wanting to dive in. After a few weeks, I broke up my to-do list into smaller sections, one action item at a time, something I highly suggest you do when you decide to streamline your process. Doing this made the entire task feel much less overwhelming and helped it seem a lot more achievable.
Once I broke up everything I needed to do into smaller bits, I assigned myself a max of 3 tasks per day depending on what the task was. I realized that my initial goal of getting my entire process streamlined by the end of the year was progressing much more quicker than expected.
I started by moving through each phase, one at a time. “Discovery,” first, then “Onboarding” and so on. Working through the list took a lot of work and determination, but I was finally doing it!
One of my biggest pieces of advice if you’re feeling overwhelmed is to break up the tasks like I did. I’d also advise that you start my creating email templates first. As a designer, I send a ton of emails back and forth between clients to get their feedback, keep them updated as to what’s going on behind the scenes, and so on. I used Honeybook, my favorite CRM (Client Relationship Management) to do this. Honeybook has so many automation and template features, especially with their new Smart Files. The new Smart Files really helped me move quickly through everything on my “to-do” list and I’m forever grateful.
If you’re looking for a more cost-effective way to set up email templates, you can even do so directly in your Gmail account. Keep in mind that you still want your emails to be custom to the client and specific project you’re working on. I set mine up in an outline-type format where I can fill in the blanks and add more details as I see fit. Sure I still have to write emails, but my goal was to have something to reference as I work with clients, especially when life gets hectic and I don’t want to miss any important points to bring up.
Once I finally got through my task list and felt good about where everything was, I ran through every part of my process with a trusted friend, and I’d strongly advise you to do the same! It’s one thing to compelte the task of streamling yoru process, but it’s another thing to actually move through it with a live client.
To ensure that everything moves smoothly, ask a close friend that you trust to be a test client. Have them start all the way at your inquiry form, moving through every single piece of your process until they’re “offboarded.” Make sure they point out anything that they found difficult or confusing along the way. The goal of streamlining your process is to feel confident using it moving forward without worry or hesitation.
If you’re working on streamlining your process and need a trusted friend to test it out for you, shoot me a message. I’d be more than happy to help you feel confident in your business in any way I can.
Looking to revamp or launch a brand identity that you’ll love? Head to my contact page to fill out my inquiry form and discover what’s possible for your biz.