How to use systems to boost your translation business
Feeling like you have too many tasks for your head space is not pleasant. Yes, it's great to be busy, but if you're not in control of start and finish dates, responses or project requirements, your "Yay, I'm in demand!" mood quickly gives way to wondering if you're actually in demand or just disorganised.
Do you need a system?
Let's think about your daily workflow. Are there tasks you find yourself doing again and again? If you've got tasks you're undertaking more than 2 or 3 times a week, creating a system will make them less time consuming.
Having systems in place for tasks you do over and over doesn't just help with your sanity levels, it helps you run (and grow) your business. How?
Having a defined process trains your brain (and your body!) to do things faster, by allowing you to avoid unnecessary repetitive actions. Not having to create the next step from scratch means less room for error - you produce a consistent result every time, which is pretty much the definition of efficiency.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by a task - even when it's something you do every day? With a system, you don't spend time thinking about what you need to do and how to do it, you just follow a process (even with your eyes closed.)
Creating a system allows you to outsource admin tasks easily. We all like to think we're essential for our business, which is great for our egos, but not so great when we want to take a vacation. With an established system in place for your most regular admin tasks, you can take some down time safe in the knowledge that someone else can easily handle the admin work the same way you would.
Improved customer experience
With a system in place, no matter how busy you are, you'll know that things are under control and clients can be reassured by your professionalism. Tasks are planned and executed consistently, delivering the results your clients expect.
Getting started with systems
Systems don't have to be complicated or expensive. A good place to start is looking at your inbox. Are there (almost) identical emails you send on a regular basis? Some ideas might be….
- When a project is below your minimum rate
- When you're happy a client contacted you for a project, but you're too busy to meet the deadline
- When you're sending a quote or a proposal
You can easily set up canned responses to answer common queries or send a standard response. This article from Hubspot tells you how to set these emails up.
CRM system 101
A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is a fancy term for a system that stores details of clients and potential clients in one place. You can create your own CRM on a simple Excel spreadsheet, starting with basic details, and (eventually) making it more advanced, with supplementary information. We'd advise you start with the following details:
- Contact details for invoice
- Service you're providing
- Payment terms
- Last contact
Of course, if you use LSP.expert, you can input this information directly on to the platform - saving you even more time! Having all this information in a central location means you don't have to hunt around in your inbox every time you need to produce a quote or an invoice. It can also help you remember the last time you were in touch…in case you need to send them a friendly reminder that you're available for work!
A system of templates
Speaking of work, having a system for the most commonly used documents you send to clients will also save you tons of time and effort. We're guessing that every time a potential customer contacts you about a job you have that moment of "Yay! I rock!" which is swiftly followed by "Oh no, now I have to quote!" Having a template for your quotes takes a lot of the pain out of this crisis of confidence.
Same goes for invoicing. A template for your invoices means that a delay in receiving payment is never down to you. Getting into the habit of creating an invoice for the project as soon as a quote is accepted means that the invoice can be sent as soon as payment is due.
If you're a user of LSP.expert, you'll know that the platform allows you to manage your project, invoices and quotes centrally. The best thing is that it works in tandem with your own systems, adapting your templates based on the CRM info you provide for each client.
In short, systems are your friend! They increase efficiency, push productivity and give your business a boost towards its goals. We recommend starting with your emails, invoicing and client details. To begin with, keep it simple - once you feel comfortable, you can always get creative. Get these right, and you've got more vacation time…what's not to like?