All small businesses, including being an author or freelance writer, have many things in common. One is that you must learn to organize your projects. People use different kinds of software to do so. Fred Findley owns his own wedding business, and today shares how Zoho Projects has helped him grow.
While growing your business never ceases to present new challenges, I am sure most business owners can remember the early days. One hundred hour work weeks that begin before sunrise and end well past midnight. A few hours of sleep then start all over again.
In the beginning, everything is new and processes are constantly changing and developing. Eventually, these processes start becoming standard procedures, but everything is in the brain of the owner who is operating off memory. Even the best of us would forget the most minor of steps from time to time, or know that deep down each project you did wasn’t always being done 100% like the previous project.
Eventually, all small businesses have to organize their procedures; projects for clients, processing contracts, social media tasks, or other day-to-day operations. Until that happens, that small business owner suffers from inconsistencies, mistakes (small and large), and the inability to have assistance or employees help because all the processes are in the memory of the owner.
My Introduction to Lean Concepts and Operational Excellence
While I was getting my wedding business started ( www.FineLineWeddings.com ), I was also doing corporate photo and video work. I was incredibly fortunate that one of my earliest clients was an organization that provided operational excellence consulting to firms, manufacturers, and hospitals. If you’re unfamiliar with operational excellence, think of lean concepts, but on a much more iin-depthscale.
While I was photographing and recording their events and lectures, I begin to realize what the next steps were to growing my business: I needed to finally take a hard look at all my operations and outline the step by step processes and understand our process flow.
ZOHO and My Search for Online Project Management
Developing step by step processes for my procedures was only the first step. Once I did this, I knew I needed some kind of tool to track these processes. I began searching the web for an ‘online project management’ tool. Luckily, I came across Zoho, and specifically their ‘Projects’ application.
What is Zoho Projects?
As stated on their website at www.zoho.com/projects : “Projects is an online project management app that helps you plan your work and
keep track of your progress. It also lets the people in the project communicate easily, discuss ideas, and stay updated. This lets you deliver quality results on time.”
5 Ways Zoho Projects Helped Me Grow My Business
1. Eliminated working off memory
2. Perfected our process flow
3. Ensures same service for every customer
4. Enabled distribution of work
5. Centralized shared information among team
Above are the 5 ways in which Zoho Projects helped my wedding business. But let’s go ahead and break down each benefit.
Eliminated working off memory…
Someone who has never built a business from the ground up would never know the extreme amount of operational processes are jammed into the memory of a small business owner in the early days. I cannot tell you what a relief it was several months into using Zoho Projects. Day-to-day procedures and important tasks for client projects were finally something I could allow my brain to stop worrying about. Once all these tasks were broken down into standard procedures in our Zoho Projects it was such a ‘freeing’ experience. It was like my brain could actually be
used for other things again. I could also stop worrying about step by step tasks and start focusing on growing my business and adding new procedures, knowing that I wouldn’t have to store more and more procedures all in my memory banks… Zoho Projects had plenty of room for that.
Perfected our process flow…
Once you finally tackle your process flows and see all your tasks outlined step by step, you can finally improve these procedures. Perhaps one task doesn’t go far enough and during that stage you can do more. Or perhaps some tasks are redundant and can be eliminated. Perhaps you can take a group of tasks and use newer or better software to achieve better results during that stage. Once your process flow is figured out, you can easily work on constant improvement and THAT is a huge key to growing your business.
Ensures same service for every customer…
Zoho Projects allowed us to make sure that each of our customers received that exact same customer experience 100% of the time. As we proceeded with tasks such as processing a wedding contract, exporting images, importing video footage, etc. as long as we followed our outlined list of tasks for these processes step by step, we could make sure that each client received the same experience as every other client.
And when you consider my previously mentioned benefit of perfecting your process flow, this means that not only can you ensure results for your customer, you can continue to raise the bar higher and higher for those results.
Enabled distribution of work…
This is perhaps one of the most important steps in growing your business. Eventually, to grow your business past a certain point, you have to be able to replicate procedures with more people. With Zoho Projects, gone were the days of not being able to have employees do tasks because only I knew how to do things. Instead, all the tasks were outlined within Zoho Projects, and once trained, the employee only had to follow the same list of tasks for each project handed to him or her.
Centralized shared information among team…
When you are able to distribute work, you can suddenly have different team members working on different stages of a large project. But there are times when team members need data or files or information from another team member. To overcome this, we simply standardized steps for the team members working on early stages of a project to record the information that other team members would need later in the process. This kept the machine humming without constantly having slow downs.
Fred Findley is a wedding photographer in Pittsburgh, PA. His company, FineLine Weddings was established in 2007 and offers wedding services including photography, video, DJ, and photo booth rentals. FineLine also has a professional portrait studio located in Greensburg, PA.