First of all, what’s a workflow? A workflow is any automated system in your business that helps save you time and energy. Typically, you can trigger these with a single action. Once the initial work is done, your workflows will be incredible shortcuts you can implement in all areas of your business.
Why do I need systems?
If you’re thinking about launching a business, or have a brand new business, it’s not unusual to feel completely overwhelmed when it comes to creating systems. Many entrepreneurs thrive in their abilities to be creative and come up with big ideas, but struggle when it comes to more practical (aka boring) parts of their business.
The truth is, if you’re going to succeed in business you need to have great systems and workflows in place to keep things running smoothly. They may not be as fun to create, but once in place they’ll free up your time to get back to the things you do love doing.
What if I don’t have any clients yet?
Even if you don’t have a single client at the moment, if you’re trying to grow or start a business you’ll need to have great systems in place for invoicing, project management, and delivering a smooth customer experience. Because if the client ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
Happy clients mean referrals, good reviews, repeat orders, and a great reputation for your brand. Having systems in place from the start will help you deliver this awesome experience for them!
Aren’t workflow tools expensive?
Nope! The best part is that this doesn’t have to be expensive AT ALL. There are upgrade options you may want to invest in eventually, but you can totally build your entire workflow on free tools alone, especially when you’re just starting out.
Here are a few of my favorite (free!) tools that helped me start taking on clients with confidence:
harvestapp.com – Time tracking and invoicing software. Harvest allows you to send out unlimited invoices and track unlimited amounts of time. You can have two projects open at one time on the free plan, and you can choose to upgrade to the Pro plan for $12/month if you need more open projects.
canva.com – I build so much stuff in Canva. I’ve upgraded to Pro this year, but the free version is still incredible. You can use it to make social media graphics, forms and templates for your business, presentations, business cards, content calendars, you name it. The Pro plan is about $13/month and gives you access to every single template, font, graphic, and feature available on the platform, as well as organization and branding tools.
https://clickup.com?fp_ref=carly93 – (This is an affiliate link; if you use it to make an account, I’ll make a small commission) ClickUp is a project management tool similar to Trello or Asana, but to me it’s the most all-inclusive workflow optimizing system I’ve tried. Use this to track projects, make to-do lists, create graphs, charts, documents, and more. The “free forever” plan has been more than enough for my purposes.
app.later.com – Social media scheduling for all major platforms, and their “free forever” plan is pretty great. If you’re posting on the fly and having to scrape together new content every day (or not posting at all because you’re overwhelmed…) Later can help you easily map your content for the week, month, or beyond. Get it out of your head and onto your screen. With the free plan, you get a set amount of posts per social account per month.
evernote.com – I love Evernote!! Whenever I have a client call, this is what I use to take notes and keep my ideas organized. They have a desktop app that is a simple design and so easy to use. I’ve used this tool for years and have never needed to move to a paid plan, the free plan offers everything I need.
More of my favorite workflow tools
There are so many great tools out there, both free and paid. Check out more of my favorite things (and get really good discounts).