Recently I conducted a short survey of a number of small business owners and solopreneurs, and one of the questions was “What are your three biggest frustrations in your business processes or projects?”

Of course, “not enough time” and “not enough cash” were right up there, as expected. But apart from these, there were a number of more specific recurring themes throughout the answers to this question.

You’ll see that much of it comes down to having clearly defined processes and documented systems.

Overwhelmed by too many options

“Zeroing in on what’s best for me …. Too many choices sometimes.”
“the overload of information and options is something that can be overwhelming for someone looking to start up on their own.”
“ the ‘shiny new toy syndrome’”

When asked about their use of online tools such as CRM, organisation and scheduling, or project and task management, half of the respondents answered that they either don’t have the time to look into them, or it’s all just too hard. 

There are so many great tools available online, with many more coming out all the time. It can be very overwhelming trying to compare them all to work out which is best suited for your particular needs. Even though many are free or offer free trials, busy entrepreneurs just don’t have the time to play around with them all to see which ones work best. Another barrier to implementing these systems is figuring out which ones work together well, to make a great system that flows; this can take a great deal of trial and error – and time – to get right.

Having a clear process for understanding your business needs before diving in will go a long way towards easing the frustration and reducing the amount of time wasted.

Not confident in how to use online tools effectively 

“Not feeling confident with new programs… not having someone trustworthy to ask when things do not work as I wanted or expected” 
“Understanding how to use my email marketing software and website effectively”
“Integrating all the various systems” “Not knowing how to have a GREAT flowing system”

These feature-packed systems look and sound fantastic and promise to solve all your small business woes in one fell swoop. But many people dive in without being aware of just how much time is going to be sucked up in learning all the ins and outs so they can use these tools effectively.

So they end up frustrated, because the tool hasn’t delivered its promised benefits. But it’s not because these benefits aren’t achievable, it’s just because effective processes haven’t been put into place first, leaving the time-strapped business owner spending just as much time doing the same old process with tools they are not confident with.

Not having time to map out processes and procedures

“Getting all the details out of my head and communicated effectively”
“lack of written procedures for my VA; finding time to think about procedures”

As mentioned above, taking the time to map out processes before putting systems in place is paramount to the effectiveness of those systems. It’s like having a fantastic car all decked out for a long journey in comfort – but if you don’t map out that journey before you hit the road, you’re bound to come across all sorts of roadblocks and deviations you weren’t prepared for.

It’s the same with your small business. You might have grand plans for implementing new products or services, or taking on a virtual assistant to help with all those administrative tasks that drain your time, so that you can grow your business.

But if you take these steps without having solid processes in place beforehand, you’ll find yourself even more overwhelmed and strapped for time. For example, you’ll need a great CRM process in place to deal with the influx of customers for your new service or product. Or, you’ll need precise step-by-step procedures for your VA to follow, otherwise they may be calling you for direction for every task. 

The bottom line – good systems need clearly-defined processes

It’s no good just jumping in and grabbing the brightest and shiniest of all those online tools and systems vying for your attention, tempting as it is. A well-defined process is essential, both for evaluating and then implementing any new systems. This will help to allay those frustrations and minimise time wastage, by keeping your end goals in mind when you’re tempted to go off on a tangent with your ‘shiny new toy’.

So while it may seem that you don’t have the time to do that process mapping now, just think of the time and pain it will save you going forward.

Are you still feeling the pain?

Or have you overcome these frustrations with clearly-defined processes in place for your business?

Go on – share your experiences and your own pain points in the comments below.

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