Have you ever wondered what you actually need to have a business that runs like a well-oiled machine? Do you have actual systems in place, or just things that appear to be systems but are really just a piece of tech? #sorrynotsorry Are you making the strategic moves that you desperately need to be making to scale your business? In this podcast episode, Online Business Manager and Business Growth Strategist, Safa Harris, of Safa Harris Consulting, gives us the scoop on setting up your business with the proper foundations and systems from the beginning to prepare you for future business growth and sustainability. If you are an entrepreneur, a mom, or just a busy human, this episode will be super helpful for you.
Meet Safa Harris
Safa Harris is a business growth strategist, an OBM, an outsourcing advocate, and a mother. Safa Harris is a self-proclaimed workflow and systems nerd. She absolutely loves anything that streamlines or makes things easier because “in reality I’m super lazy! I like things to be easy and flow well so that I can enjoy other things in life.” Safa likes to do all the hard work up front to make the day-to-day and everything else go quicker and easier. And then she can focus on what she really wants her lifestyle to be.
Safa got into OBM and business growth strategy work as a natural outflow of what she ended up doing in all her other jobs: making the systems and processes flow better. Safa comes from an entrepreneur family and always wanted to have a business of her own. When she realized that she could help other women set up workflows and systems to get stuff straight for their business and life, Safa Harris Consulting was born. She loves fixing systems for entrepreneurs so that they can free up space in their brain and their life to do things that are actually life-giving.
After all, we didn’t become entrepreneurs just so we could send out invoices all day long. You didn’t get into entrepreneurship so that you could go in and manually do all the things that could be done automatically.
What are some important systems to have in place before opening up shop?
Safa was clear to explain: “When I say system I’m not just talking about a piece of tech or tools. Lots of people think that they have a system because they have a Dubsado or something else, but that’s NOT the system. That’s a part of the system. The system is 5 different things put together to create the end result.”
1. A Client Relationship Management System
She highly recommends that when you first open up shop, have your CRM (client relationship management) figured out before you start marketing really hard. So when someone is like “‘OMG I love you, I want to work with you yesterday, you’re not like ‘oh shit, how am I going to get this call scheduled.’” Have your CRM, contracts, and payment process systems all figured out. This is especially true if you are going to be in a support role or a service provider role. If you’re going to be the one helping people in the back end of their business and your back end is just sad. That’s not a good look. It’s so impressive to clients for your responses to be smooth and your systems to flow smoothly.
You want clients to be wowed by how smoothly your back-end systems flow as much as they are wowed by the work that you do. Your workflow is an important part of letting your clients know what the whole process will be like working with them. Especially if you’re working with people who are high quick start or visionaries, they won’t want to wait for you if you take forever to get back to them. Having smooth systems that work is one way you can take really good care of your people.
2. A Project Management Tool
Safa highly recommends having a Project Management (PM) Software even as a solopreneur, but it’s absolutely necessary when you are running a team.
The right project management tool helps you to stay on top of projects, client work, goals, and when you’re going to be doing all of the things. Put your brain into your project management tool so that it frees up space in your brain. It keeps you from having to think about what all you have going on, what all you have to do, and creates space to think and create.
Creating that space in your brain will help you stay on track and get things done when and how they need to get done. It will help you not drop balls, and get the things done that actually need to be done, and it keeps you accountable to yourself.
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3. A cloud file storage system:
Safa likes either google drive or dropbox. She recommends that you go ahead and save everything on the cloud upfront. Even if you never plan to outsource (which you should) you’re going to need that digital space and all those things in there. Having everything stored digitally allows you to share easily, do your work anywhere, and keep it organized in one quick, easy to access spot.
Safa also highly recommends using ClickUp as your PM. (A girl after my own heart, I will fight someone over ClickUp I love it so much, lol) With ClickUp as your Project Management system, you can link everything and have it all as a little hub or virtual office (Yay, I love that, I’m totally going to use that now, lol). Instead of YOU being the hub of the business, the tools and the systems are and everything is there in that little hub.
There are more systems to implement eventually, but these are the main ones that you need to get started and have a really great foundation to keep yourself straight as a solopreneur and eventually be able to grow and scale on. Because, after all, you want to be future-focused and plan for future growth.
How do you look at the big picture better in terms of your business?
“I always say start with your life. I set lifestyle goals. I know what I want my life to look like, I know how I want to be living, the kind of house I want the kind of car I want to drive, the things my closet is going to have, and the interior decorating that’s going to be going on. I have that vision and it’s very very strong…. I’m very clear on how that’s going to be, what kind of mom I’m going to be, and what kind of activities I’m going to be taking part in. And my business is what’s going to make that happen.”
Let’s say that again because it’s worth saying:
Start with that vision of the lifestyle you want to live and then you know what your business needs to be producing.
Safa recommends breaking that down by knowing what your take-home needs to be and then generally double that for revenue. That can be a big scary number, but if you realize that you have _____ amount of years to make that happen then it’s not so intimidating. Break that down further year by year, quarter by quarter, month by month etc… so then you can figure out what you need to be selling each quarter and each month. Start at the end, where you want to end up, and then work your way down from that in smaller bite-sized chunks. Then create the process of how that is going to happen.
*Bonus tip* This helps you see where the holes are to help push yourself where you are lacking.
When you’re setting goals for your business and aligning your systems with that, start at the end, where you want to end up, and then work your way down from that in smaller bite-sized chunks. Then create the process of how that is going to happen.
When you know exactly what you need to do, you can go in super laser-focused to know when to do your marketing and when you’re doing your pitches, etc.
*Bonus Tip* Strategic business goals keep you from overworking yourself into oblivion. After all, that’s not why we are entrepreneurs. Know what bigger goals you’re working towards and the littler goals that will get you there so you know when you can stop working and enjoy the lifestyle you’re working so hard to create. I don’t know about you, but I work to live, I don’t live to work.
Safa ties all of this strategic goal setting back to business: If you have the proper systems and goals in place then you can make sure that everything you’re building now is scalable for the future. If you know where you want to go, then you’re able to do that intentional action. You can evaluate if the things you’re doing right now are scalable for future goals.
Speaking of building intentionally for future growth.. Have you grabbed the Dynamic Content Generator yet? For less than $100 and a few hours of your time, you can have customized, converting content prompts for an entire year (and beyond).
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Why do you love outsourcing so much and why do you recommend it?
When I asked Safa why she loved outsourcing so much this is what she had to say: “I am a mom. I have a business, and I have a house to take care of, I have big goals and I have lots of things to do. And like I said, I work to live I don’t live to work… I was spending so much time in my business and doing all the work I needed to do, that my house was starting to suffocate me… I couldn’t balance business and home and I was not doing those vital actions in my life that only I can do that I really enjoy or that are life-giving to me. I realized that I need to create space. My life was already systemized and processed, so I knew it was already streamlined. So I asked, what can I outsource?”
Safa started outsourcing in her home with help cleaning. After that, Safa got a mother’s helper to watch her son while she gets a lot of her serious work done. As she puts it, “ I got used to doing that and giving up that control in my life so I was able to do that in my business. Because I already had those systems in place I was able to hire fast and pass off different tasks in my business, and I didn’t have to worry about not giving them what they need to be successful.”
*Bonus tip* Creative businesses or entrepreneurs have to have tons of brain space to work. Outsourcing is so important to free that up for you especially if that work is outside of your zone of genius.
What if someone cannot financially outsource yet?
Safa would encourage someone thinking that they just can’t afford to outsource to actually look at your numbers and start divvying it up. You can probably move things around and actually create that money that you need to hire help.
When it comes to outsourcing, Safa has found that it’s mostly a money mindset issue. Ask what your hourly rate is? Even if you’re doing packaged based, you have an idea what your hourly rate is. If you’re spending 8 hours on Saturday cleaning your house, ask yourself what’s more valuable? If your rate is $100/ hour you are essentially spending $800 of your time to clean your house. Option 1, you could take that 8 hours and go do 8 hours of work and get that money back or even more. So ask yourself, “What is more valuable for $800?”
“Hire a housekeeper.” Safa encourages, “She’s not charging you $800 to clean your house. How valuable is it that while she’s doing that… I can take my son out for ice cream and make a memory. This is not about how much money you’re giving your house cleaner, how much money you’re giving your VA, how much money you’re giving your social media manager. This is about the value of my time and the memories I’m creating. Ask what’s more valuable!”
It’s not actually about the money that you’re giving the people you’re outsourcing to. It’s about creating things that are even more valuable.
Safa has this amazing freebie for us:
Virtual office checklist: It includes her list of all the things that she sets up for her virtual office intensive clients. You can download it and learn exactly how to set up your ClickUp for scalable growth, time, space, and freedom. (DM her on Instagram while her site is down for construction.)
Wow! Were you as inspired by Safa and all of her systems knowledge as I was? Speaking from experience, having systems in place will make you so much more effective in every aspect of your life, especially your work. Your clients will thank you, your future sanity will thank you, and your significant other and kids will DEFINITELY thank you. Don’t wait to set up your systems until you are knee-deep in chaos. Take Safa’s advice and start getting those systems set up today.
copy transcribed & put together by Faith Hanan