Kaizen (Japanese for “continuous improvement”) is a strong focus of many large corporations today because they realize that small changes that shave seconds off of a process can lead to huge savings in the long run.
As a new coach, you can save a ton of time by setting your systems up in the most efficient way possible. A process that wastes just 5 minutes can add up to hours pretty quickly!
Here’s an example: I used to work with a friend who kept all his emails in his inbox and never filed them in separate folders. There were several times when I’d go over to his desk and our conversation would steer toward a topic that required us to reference a recent email and I’d just sit there in amazement as I’d watch him re-sort his email a dozen times until he finally found the email (usually took at least 5 minutes – sometimes longer!). Search for 12 emails and there’s a full hour wasted!
Now I’m sure you’re probably much more organized than my friend but I mention this story to illustrate a point. No matter how organized you are, your organization systems will be tested when you start your coaching business. I always felt as though I was highly organized until I opened up the flood gates of information that I was exposed to as I started my coaching business.
My “business” folder quickly grew into about a dozen different sub-folders (marketing, procedures, referrals, website, etc…). Each time I’d expand my system, it took quite a bit of time to re-organize all my materials and I realized that if I had taken the time up front to create one effective folder system in both my email system and on my computer, I could have saved quite a bit of time.
In the Coaches First Year coaching program I lay out a template you can use but here are some of the main points you’ll want to consider as you set up a coaching business.
- Create Email and Computer Folders: As you setup your coaching business, you will be coordinating every aspect of your business. Create a separate folder for each area you come across and use them to store emails, notes and documents.
- Create a “Notes” folder: You’re going to read and learn a lot about business ESPECIALLY during your first year. I found it tremendously helpful to keep a separate “Notes” folder with a different blank word document for each learning category. As you learn a new topic or come across a new resource, I jot it down in the corresponding note file.
- Create a folder to store all your electronic receipts for business expenses: This one is HUGE! You never know when the tax man will come around and ask you to justify some random “Amazon” business expense. I recommend creating a separate folder for each expense category I have in Quickbooks (the software I use for my bookkeeping)
- Create a Swipe File: A Swipe file is a folder you use to store marketing materials and emails you come across that you like or you find to be particularly effective. When one of the “Guru’s” you follow sends you an email for their new coaching program, move it to your Swipe file so you can follow a similar process when you’re ready to roll out your new coaching program.
- Create a “To Read” folder: This one was HUGE for me. I’m on so many distribution lists. I follow all the great coaches and business experts out there who regularly pump out fantastic content and I quickly got to the point where I’d stop what I was doing every time I’d receive one of their emails. Continuously learning is great, but not if you stop taking actions that grow your business. By creating a separate folder (in Dropbox) I was able to proactively put controls in place that would allow me to set specific times to focus on my business, and other times to read that content. Just this one strategy boosted my productivity exponentially!!! And since I saved the folders in Dropbox, I’m able to read them on my iPad or iPhone whenever I’m waiting in line, eating lunch, or sitting in the waiting room when I’m getting an oil change!
- Create a folder with links to useful tools: I can guarantee you’ll need to solve a problem as you start your coaching business. Here’s how the situation will likely play out: You’re adding your logo to your website and your logo doesn’t quite fit in the allotted space. You google “how to resize your logo” and after 15 minutes of reading the top 5 search results, you finally come across a good free online tool that does the trick. 6 months later you run into a similar situation and have to go through the process again. That 15 minutes can be saved if you had just saved the link to that tool in a separate document.
- Create a folder for your procedures and regularly update them: For example, you write a blog post and then tweet it and add it to Facebook. That’s all well and good but did you know there are dozens of other free resources you can use to post your blog post for free? If you have a document with a step-by-step process with links to each article submission site, you can follow a quick and easy procedure to maximize the value of that blog post while increasing your reach among your target market as well as your SEO! (This is one of the tools I’ve created for you in the blogging module of the Coach’s First Year program).
When you take the time to setup effective storage folders up front, you’ll minimize the time you spend searching for an old email or valuable reference.
Your business will grow! As it does, your current systems will be tested. Don’t wait until you’re forced to change reactively. Plan ahead, create systems that support growth, and enjoy the ride!
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