“Ugh, I’m so tired of always feeling disorganized and behind.”
“Great. I need to send another ‘Thank you for your patience!’ email because I dropped the ball … again.”
“When am I ever going to have the time to work on my business rather than in it?”
“I’m supposed to be running my business, but why does it always feel like my business is running me straight into the ground?”
“It’s just a matter of time before another shoe drops. I know I’m forgetting something.”
If any of these sound familiar, I want you to do three things:
I know, I know. You’re already feeling bogged down, like you don’t have enough time to even do the bare minimum. How are you supposed to create more time that you don’t have to address clientflow?
Honestly, that’s a totally fair question.
What I need you to do though is trust me for a moment.
Clientflow is often pushed aside as a priority for small business owners who are struggling to keep their head above water. But together we’re going to discover what clientflow truly is (and why it matters so much), how to know if clientflow is truly a problem in your business, and what you can do about it right now.
Because you deserve to feel excited and passionate about your business again. Now, let’s dig in.
Clientflow is exactly what it sounds like …
From the moment a client first engages with you during the discovery process to the day they offboard at the end of a project, clientflow is the entire experience someone has with your brand.
It’s the experience they have submitting a request to chat with you.
It’s the experience they have when receiving and signing a proposal.
It’s the experience they have when they need to pay their invoice.
It’s the experience they have when they try to reach out to you.
On top of that, clientflow is something you already have running within your business. Right now, your current prospects and clients are working their way through your clientflow, it doesn’t matter how you’ve set up your processes — with or without automation; good, bad, or ugly.
I’ve talked about this at length before, but I’m so passionate about the topic of clientflow because, as small business owners — or, heck, simply as human beings — the most valuable resource we have is time.
For example, let’s say that you fall down an inefficiency rabbit hole for 45 minutes five times a week. Maybe you’re manually sending over invoices, because you don’t have recurring payments setup, or you’re sending out those dreaded “Just following up!” emails for proposals … it doesn’t matter what it is.
At that moment in time, a 45-minute detour may feel annoying, but it doesn’t seem like the end of the world. You’re not really wasting that much time, right?
Well, let’s do the math on that:
Assuming clientflow issues are only costing you 3.75 hours per week, you’re losing over a year that could be spent doing anything else — going on vacations with your family, making core memories with your friends, indulging in self-care … or even maybe working on more high-impact objectives to move your brand forward.
I don’t really care what you would do with that time, the point I’m trying to make remains. If someone came to you at the end of your life and said, “What if I could give you 406.25 days more to live life to its fullest?” you’d jump at the chance. But right now, that’s the time you’re letting slip through your fingertips.
This is why clientflow matters.
You’re not a bad business owner if clientflow is a problem, but (hopefully) now you’re leaning forward to learn how to identify it as a problem in your business and make the time to do something about it.
You want to hear something tragically ironic? One of the most common reasons why a business experiences clientflow problems is because they’re successful. That’s right! While I need you to take clientflow seriously, you’re not a bad business owner for having a clientflow problem. Breakdowns in your clientflow are what happen when you succeed and grow.
When you first opened your doors, you operated with processes, platforms, and patchworked systems that were likely fine and dandy at that scale. But the clientflow processes, platforms, and systems you start with are rarely the ones you grow with.
So, if you’ve increased your client portfolio and friction is becoming more of a feature, rather than a bug, in your clientflow process, it’s time to reevaluate.
It breaks my heart every time I hear someone who is so clearly meant to make a difference with their small business say they don’t feel like they “have what it takes” to be a successful business owner.
If this is you, you’re wrong.
More often than not, feeling like you’re …
… aren’t signs that you’re a bad business owner. These are signs you have very fixable inefficiencies and breakdowns in your clientflow process.
Do you still have work to do to right your ship? Absolutely.
But you are still a fantastic small business owner; you simply need to fully commit to being a smart small business owner who makes necessary changes and pivots when something is broken. And, again, there’s a good chance you’re feeling this pain because you’re good at what you do — see the previous point!
There’s nothing worse than realizing you forgot to reach out to a client or prospect … because they had to reach out with an email to remind you. Oof.
Look, don’t beat yourself up too much. We’ve all been there. The key is when identify your clients having to chase you (rather than the other way around) as a pattern, you fix it. Specifically, you need to think about how to leverage technology so you can work smarter and prevent critical communications from slipping through the cracks.
Speaking of technology …
If you’re sending manual emails with contract documents attached, that’s not a good thing. That should be automated. If you’re manually typing up payment reminders for overdue invoices, that’s not a good thing. That should be automated.
Clientflow platforms like Honeybook will save you hundreds (if not thousands) of hours by helping you transition tasks and client touchpoints that were once manual into an automated masterpiece.
Invoice reminders that send themselves!
Onboarding sequences that run on their own!
Emails that are tracked automatically so they never get lost again!
Seamless proposal and contract workflows you don’t have to babysit!
Contracts and payments that natively integrate with accounting software!
And that’s only the beginning of what’s possible with clientflow and business process automation. Seriously, move over Harry Potter. Clientflow automation is the true Tri-Wizard Tournament Champion.
OK, even if you’ve been nodding your head along with everything I’ve said so far, I know there are a few of you still thinking to yourself:
“I would love more time in my business, but I can’t afford to take the time I need to fix clientflow in my business. I don’t even know where I would start!”
While I completely understand where you’re coming from — I was right there with you with my own small business not too long ago — I need to get real with you for a second. If you compare the small businesses that thrive to those that fold, clientflow is usually the key difference.
Small, independent businesses that prioritize clientflow as an ongoing focus soar.
Those that don’t … well … yeah.
The good news is that you’re not alone in doing this. There are plenty of resources out there (thanks, Honeybook!) to make it easier for you! Also, did you know there are clientflow automation specialists out there who specialize in working with small business owners like you to diagnose your client flow challenges and fix what’s broken? I’m not kidding.
Is it up to you to be honest that clientflow is a problem and be willing to address it? Yes. But once you complete that ye olde first step of “admitting you have a problem,” you don’t have to do it alone.
You just need to be willing to reach out and ask for help.
© 2023 Natalie Franke