Why Systems for Your Business are Important
When I first started my photography business, in the first few months photography jobs were quiet. Nobody had heard of me yet and I was biding my time by getting more experience and also by setting up the actual business side of things. The bets advice I was given at the time, about starting a new business, came from my husband (I knew I married him for a reason!) and it went something like “you might be quiet now but set up your systems right at the start and you will be in good shape when you get busy”. And he was so right. He was also right about the fact that I was quiet at the time and putting systems in place when I didn’t have much to do anyway and lots of time to take on each task, it did feel a little silly!
However as the months went by and my little business Eden Photography started to take off, I studied each job I did and built a system – whether it was how I prepared for a wedding and packed my bag or how I culled a wedding afterwards. So that by the time my summer months were full of weddings I didn’t need to firstly figure out a workflow that, well, worked! I could concentrate on getting the work done. Of course everything wasn’t perfect from the outset and as I got more experienced, I refined my workflows and improved them, to the extent I now no longer this of what should I do next; my day has a flow to it that not only makes my day more enjoyable but it means I get things done.
So if I was to offer any new photographer some advice starting out, or any creative for that matter, it would be to build your systems early and perfect that as you go – your “busy” self will thank you for it.
How to build a system
First of all go through the list of things that you do on a regular, repetitive basis – that could be anything from packing your bag for a shoot and charging your gear to how you deliver the final images to your clients. All of these steps are so important for the experience of your service that your clients and couples receive. Think about it carefully, list them all out and then go through each one and list out the steps that need to be done in order to achieve the task. Ask yourself as you go, “are these steps that I will do every time I do this job? Or will it look different each time?” For any of the jobs that will be the same systemise them, make them part of your routine until you are so familiar with them that you no longer need to even think about it. Think about the logical order of things to do to achieve that task and you now have a system in place. And like I said earlier, as you gain experience in your field, you will likely get better and quicker at doing things and your system will evolve and that is fine too. It might seem like a basic thing to do. In fact it might seem over simple to list out the steps to how you do a specific task in your business. But it is a great way to do just that, simplify what you do and avoid over complicating things you do repetitively. You will soon see that if there is a job you do that has 40/50 steps to it, then you are at risk of over thinking and over complicating the process. So look at your list again and simplify it, once you have now had the chance to sit back and see exactly how you have been doing things.
Systems that Plan for the Future
You can even take it a step further and start to think about what jobs you might outsource in the future. Having a system in place for whoever is going to take over that task for you will be priceless and means that there will be little disruption to your business and your clients experience of your business. You can even use a tool like Loom to record yourself on screen as you do your computer based tasks, so that when the time comes you will have a perfect guide to show your new team member.
Setting up proven systems that work have been priceless for my photography business. They have allowed me to grow and take on new members with little disruption, allowed me to complete jobs with satisfaction and also take time off and away from the business, so that nobody would even know!! Perhaps that is the greatest gift of systemisation of all!!