The frustration of this reality came to a head for me when I had a particularly busy month with several new clients coming aboard at once. I was forced out of my rose-colored creative space and put on my Business Administrator hat to realize, because I was doing the same thing in repetition, what a slog my process was. A few lowlights:
- Too many bottlenecks.
Everything required me to read an email, respond to a notification, or have the good sense to set up a task or todo to remind me to do something.
- Prone to human error.
Everything from missing an important email to misspelling a customer’s name somewhere to forgetting or poorly prioritizing a step.
Because it was such a manual process, the timing, delivery, tone or language I’d use to communicate with my clients as they came aboard was inconsistent. Everybody got a slightly different version of everything.
I’ve been hard at work on a project, on vacation, on my bike, on a boat or half asleep when a strong lead came in and I’d drop everything to at least get the first email response to their inbox. Newsflash: Those are not the sustainable behaviors one hopes to adopt when one is in business for himself.
As I was churning through the necessary steps to get a new customer going, I totaled up the hours I spent on-boarding these new projects, then multiplied that times a typical quarter, and then curled up in a shivering ball in the corner because I was shocked at how much time it was taking. A few minutes here, a few minutes there, heck just a couple minutes to create a new customer profile in Nusii (proposals), then Wave (invoicing), then Basecamp (project management) then Harvest (time tracking)…that’s eight minutes…multiply by…carry the two…square root of nineteen…divided by pi… turns out this small stuff turns into big stuff. And like any consultant, wasted time is wasted opportunity and wasted money.