I’ve invited Jennifer Taylor to share her thoughts on workflows today. Jennifer is the principal of Jen Taylor Consulting, a consulting firm that works with creative businesses of all sizes to implement streamlined workflows and organized systems to find more time and space for business growth and personal development. She is also the owner and founder of Taylor’d Event Group, a leading event planning company that serves local and destination clients in Washington State and Maui, HI.
Think back to when you first started out in the wedding industry. What drew you to the business? Perhaps it was a certain skill (like photography or stationery design) or maybe you loved the idea of working with engaged couples — more than likely, you didn’t start a business to spend your hours writing emails and dealing with paperwork.
Over time, it can feel like the operational side of things only becomes more demanding, leaving you less time to invest in the creative process — or forcing you to sacrifice personal time to make ends meet. It doesn’t need to be like this. If you feel like you’ve burnt out and no longer feel the excitement and passion you experienced in the beginning, there’s a good chance you need to revisit your workflow to find more efficiency in your daily activities.
You see, when everything is in place and your systems are working for you, you’ll free up more hours in the day to spend doing what you love the most: the design, the photography, the music, the cooking, the client interactions, or whatever it is that drove you when you first started.
Let’s explore how you can carve out more space for what matters most.
Evaluate your existing workflows
Before anything, you need start with where you are. Look at all of your current processes and outline them, step by step. For example, when you book a new client, note each step you take from intake through execution. Do you follow a specific formula? Are there certain apps or tools that you rely on throughout the process? Once these are laid out in front of you, you’ll be able to look at each step to identify efficiency gaps. Where is time being spent unnecessarily?
The idea is to standardize all of your business operations, so there’s no guesswork when it comes to next steps. Only then can you reclaim your mental space and reallocate it to other projects and priorities, with trust that your systems are in place to keep the ship moving.
Beyond the planning process, you’ll also want to consider internal operations that could use a refresher. Review your social media, email marketing, accounting, client communications, day-of execution, deliveries, and the like — continue identifying gaps and making your business as lean as possible.
Remain open to new solutions
Some of the best solutions are likely ones you haven’t tried yet, so do some research and seek out new programs and apps that can help you to bridge those previously identified apps. By now, you should already have a list of areas that could use some work — start with the biggest time-sucker and begin working your way down in terms of priority. Perhaps you enjoy posting to social media, but you need to find a way to spend less time in your inbox — in that case, you’ll want to look at ways to develop email templates and automate marketing funnel communications.
Some software is multi-faceted and provide multiple features, like Aisle Planner, Dubsado, Honeybook, and 17 Hats. The only way to know the best fit for your business is to try them out and evaluate which fills your needs best.
Prepare for a period of change
It may feel counterintuitive to spend your time implementing new solutions when you’re actually trying to save time, but it should be considered as an investment. The ends certainly justifies the means, but you do need to be prepared to spend time on the transition — especially if you have a team. You will need to learn the new process and develop a habit with repeated use.
Within a few months, it will be a part of your process and you should start to see the results in your day-to-day schedule. This is a good time to evaluate how your new systems are working and whether you need to make additional improvements. Finding the best fit takes time and effort, but rest assured that you will be far better off once it becomes second nature.