How to Build a Productive System for your Freelance Consulting Business

I know how it is to sit down at your desk and just stare at all the work in front you. Systems can help us bridge the gap between overwhelm and productivity. They allow us to put one foot in front of the other so that we can slowly chomp away at goals that feel larger than life by accomplishing small sets of tasks. Thus, the best way to approach systems is to not over complicate them. A system is just a list of small steps toward a desired outcome.

In order to create a system, you need to know three things. First, you need to know your desired outcome. What is it that you’d like to accomplish through the establishment of your system? Are you trying to book a client? Land a gig? Build a social media following? You have to know where you’re going in order to build a system that gets you there.

Second, you need to know your why. Why are you pursuing this identified goal? Is it to build income? Is it for a cause? Understanding your why will help to clarify your building blocks and simplify your process.

Third, you need to know how you’d like to arrive at your desired outcome. Your how is the way that you’ll pursue your goal. It’s the way that you’ll build your steps. This way of pursuing your desired outcome will be informed by your why. For instance, if you ‘d like to land a gig singing heartfelt Americana songs to people in nursing homes because you enjoy it, then you’re going to have pursue this gig in a specific way. You’ll use a different tone in your pitching process to the nursing home than you would if you were pitching a show to a punk bar in Johnson City, TN.

Once you’ve identified your where, why, and how; then you’re ready to start building your system. When you begin, you’ll want to think of every part of your process. For instance, when booking a gig or a client, you’ll start with the “what” and then use your “how” and “why” to craft how those steps will operate in your process.

Example

Simple Client Booking System

  1. Potential client navigates to website, a newsletter pop-up appears within 5 seconds.

  2. Potential client creates an opt-in preference by either submitting email address or exiting the form.

  3. Once opt-in preference is complete, potential client will scroll to home page to find a Call to Action that invites them to a free 45 minute consultation.

  4. Client fills out the consultation form and presses submit.

  5. Client is sent an automated welcome email that contains a link to an appointment scheduler (Calendly, Acuity).

  6. Client chooses an appointment date and time.

  7. Client is sent an automated “Thank You” email with a Zoom call link through Flodesk.

  8. 1 day before appointment, You and Client are sent an automated email with Zoom call link and a reminder of the appointment.

  9. 2 hours before appointment, You and Client are sent an automated email with Zoom call link and a reminder of the appointment.

As you can see from the example above, building a system is nothing more than just identifying a series of steps that will lead you toward your goal. That’s it. It’s so simple. The power of building these detailed system documents for your business, at any stage, is that you get to know and understand your deliverables, timeline, and the committment that is required of you at every step of the process. Having a well-thought system can help you to navigate mistakes, miscommunications, and overwhelm. With systems in place, your work will get done faster and your life will get easier.

I love systems. I love that even though these simple step-by-step documents seem tedious, they allow me to be vulnerable with myself in my business and evaluate what is going well and what parts of my process need careful assessment and revision.

Don’t overcomplicate this. Let every step teach you what you need to know to get better at serving. Let every step teach you more about the ways that you can create better capacity in your business. There is so much to learn and this is only the beginning. Happy listing!