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Seven Steps You Can Take Today For A More Efficient Business

Guest Post Written By Arielle Minicozzi Figueroa

When your marketing finally pays off, you may find yourself in need of a more efficient system for managing your business. Whether your goal is to be a lifestyle practice or scale, having solid workflows and procedures will allow you to make the most of your time and effort. The ideal time to start building these efficiencies is day one, but if you’re already in business the second best time is right now.

Here are some ideas to consider:

Establish a folder naming convention for storing documents.

Having been in business for three years now, this one really hits home for me. When my business partner and I merged two years ago, we were both using different naming conventions with no real procedure in place. This became a frustrating struggle when trying to find important documents in each others’ drives.

There are so many ways you can map your folder tree, but here is an example that you may customize based on the type of business you run:

  • Last Household (example: Fawn Household)
  • Last, First for each client (example: Fawn, Jill; Fawn, Joe)
  • Type of Document (example: Proposals, Receipts, Filed Tax Returns)
  • Year (optional if this makes sense for your business)
  • Documents named according to a standard format (example: YYYY-MM-DD_Receipt_Landscaping)

Create tags or segments in your CRM and email marketing software.

Most CRMs and email marketing software have this functionality built in. The hard part is coming up with the tags that are relevant for you. I suggest at minimum creating tags or groups to correspond with the stages of your client lifecycle, your referral sources, and project or product type.

For example:

  • Lifecycle Stage

    • Lead_Cold

    • Lead_Warm

    • Lead_Hot

    • Client_One-Time Project

    • Client_Ongoing Project

  • Referral Source

    • Social_Facebook

    • Social_LinkedIn

    • Social_Twitter

    • Social_Instagram

    • Event_FinCon 2020

    • Event_FinCon 2019

    • Person_Current Client

    • Person_Center of Influence

  • Project Type

    • Project_Email Campaigns

    • Project_Zapier Setup

    • Project_Form Creation

    • Project_Workflow Buildout

    • Project_Scheduler Setup 

Create a “brain dump” folder or document. 

If you repeat a process more than once, write it down somewhere you can access it later and save any collateral you use while completing it. This can be a folder on your desktop, a Trello board, an Evernote document or any other location you’ll remember to use.

Map out your workflows and processes. 

Once you’ve worked on 5-10 projects or have reached six months in business, take the information from your “brain dump” folder and organize it into documented workflows. Start with a tool that’s easily-editable, like a Google Doc because you will want to make changes. The easiest method is to start with the “ideal” scenario – the lead progresses from the beginning to the end of the client lifecycle with no interruptions or contingencies, then move on to the “worst case” scenario where the lead or client chooses not to move to the next step of the client lifecycle. 

Finally, account for roadblocks or contingencies. These are tasks or processes that only happen some of the time. For example, only when a lead comes in as a referral does the referral partner require a thank you message. That is a contingency because it doesn’t prevent you from moving to the next step. On the other hand, not receiving a response after an initial meeting is a roadblock because it prevents you from moving ahead until it is cleared. The way to get around roadblocks in life and in process-building is to create a detour. In other words, what is preventing your lead or client from moving forward and how can you “reroute” them to another action to put them back on the path? In this same example, you might add them to an email campaign addressing common concerns or questions.Once you’re satisfied, transfer your finalized process into your CRM or project management tool. 

Create email and document templates. 

Contacts at each stage of the lifecycle will have different questions that must be answered in order to allow them to move to the next stage. Rather than reinventing the wheel each time you get asked a specific question, why not incorporate the answers into your marketing, add an FAQ section on your website, or create an email template you can reference at a moment’s notice. In addition, there will also be transaction-related emails pertinent to each stage of the life cycle. Creating templates and even automating them will streamline your efforts considerably. Make sure to include links to your templates in your workflow map, and don’t forget to use your “brain dump” folder as a reference.

Track your time. 

Even if you don’t bill hourly, tracking your time will help you ensure your pricing is consistent with the amount of time you are spending on projects. If you struggle with remembering to track your time, set a reminder on your phone to go off each hour to prompt you or use the internal reminders in whichever system you use. It can be hard to get into the habit, but when you look back a year from now and have actionable data, you’ll be so glad you did.

Establish Key Process Indicators (KPIs). 

These might include things like how much you are earning compared to how many hours you’re spending per project, what percentage of leads are converting to clients, or how popular each of the services you offer are in relation to each other. Every so often you can run a report from your CRM software or other database to determine how well you are meeting KPIs and you can use this report to take action to better meet your business goals and improve your client experience. Your conversion metric in particular will help you determine how well your client lifecycle is flowing.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully these core ideas get you started on the right track. We’d also love to hear any ideas you have about processes and procedures that have worked well for you. Drop a comment below and let us know your thoughts.


Arielle Minicozzi Figueroa

Arielle Minicozzi Figueroa is the founder and co-owner of Sphynx Automation, a virtual CTO firm that helps financial advisors gain efficiency and maximize their client impact using technology and automation. In addition to her work with Sphynx, Arielle is a partner and financial planner at Modern Money Advisor, where she focuses on working with young, female professionals. Arielle resides in sunny Arizona with her husband (and business partner) Mark Figueroa, and their cat (the namesake of Sphynx), Nigel.

Connect with Arielle here:

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