Understanding the different types of templates and where to utilize them in your organization can significantly enhance your workflow and improve overall efficiency. This article will explore various templates that can be used across the four business pillars – Leadership, Marketing and Sales, Administration and Finance and Business Fulfillment.
Small business success is highly dependent on the leadership of the owner, and templates can provide a solid foundation for effective leadership.
As a business owner, two categories of leadership affect you:
Templates can be effective in both areas of leadership. For example, goal-setting and time-management templates can provide focus as you manage your workload, responsibilities and personal growth in the personal leadership space.
Regular readers of our blogs will know that I am a disciple of Michael Gerber, the author of ‘The E-Myth’ and ‘The E-Myth Revisited’ where he talks about “A systems-dependant business, not a people-dependent business”.
When it comes to the leadership of others, the development of systems, i.e., standard operating procedures and templates for everyone to follow, is an integral part of leadership. Note: Part of your role as a leader is to ensure your team adheres to the standards.
Business planning is a crucial topic for success that small business owners often ignore.
A solid plan helps entrepreneurs outline their goals, strategies, and objectives and track their progress over time. However, creating a comprehensive business plan can be overwhelming and time-consuming.
That’s where business planning templates come in handy. Pre-designed templates can provide a structured framework to write a business plan efficiently and effectively. They provide the key information you can customize, such as executive summaries, market analysis, financial projections, and marketing strategies.
Our previous article (link below) discussed the importance of consistent branding materials. But it goes beyond just visual materials. It is actually about consistency throughout all marketing and sales activities.
Your ‘brand’ is what comes into someone’s mind when they hear your business name. So if you have a schmick website, social media and supporting materials, but your customer service sucks, poor service will resonate in your customer’s mind.
Templates are very useful in developing consistency.
Here is a simple example we implemented in our Cashflow Manager business that everyone had to use, including myself as the CEO:
When a phone call came in, the team member had to say, “Good morning/afternoon. This is….”
The words “this is” prepared the caller to listen to the team member’s name, and the caller would generally respond by offering their own name.
If a team member had to place the caller on hold for any reason, the script was: “Can I ask you to hold, please?” and wait for a response.
This might sound minimal, but how much better is that than the common response of: ‘Hold please”. This scripted template successfully developed the relationship right at the beginning and also helped if the customer had a complaint.
And I have included this in ‘marketing and sales’ because the telephone is often the first point of contact with the customer, which means that it is the first link in the marketing chain… and first impressions count. Every person in the business has a marketing role.
Simple, but effective!
Here is an example of another simple system we implemented with a hardware store client. When a customer came in to buy paint, the salesperson had a templated system to ensure they had everything they needed to do the job “so they wouldn’t have to come back.”
The salesperson would say, “Is it OK if we run through this quick checklist to ensure you have everything you need.” They would then list the various items on a checklist.
This was effectively the “Would you like fries with that” template and, once again, was very effective.
There are many areas in the sales and marketing process where you can use templates:
Managing a small business’s administrative and financial aspects can be overwhelming, especially when you’re wearing multiple hats.
Thankfully, various templates can help save time on repetitive tasks, boost efficiency, and provide a solid foundation for managing your business finances.
One essential template (often ignored by smaller entities) is a cash flow budget that allows you to plan the timing of money coming in and going out of your business.
By tracking your cash flow and comparing it to your budget, you can make more informed decisions about where to allocate resources and identify areas where cost-cutting measures may be necessary.
Invoicing is another critical aspect of small business finance that can benefit from templates, both in invoice creation and follow-up.
Email has become most businesses’ primary means of correspondence, but crafting personalized messages can be time-consuming. This is where email templates come in. With a suitable set of pre-written emails, you can simplify your communication processes and boost efficiency.
Email templates are customizable frameworks allowing you to create consistent and professional emails quickly. Whether responding to client inquiries, scheduling meetings, or sending follow-up messages, having a library of well-crafted email templates saves valuable time and ensures that your communication remains clear and concise.
Templates also enable better communication among teams and departments. For instance, using a template for meeting agendas ensures that all relevant topics are covered during discussions while keeping everyone focused and engaged.
When a business takes on its first employee, it enters a new level of administration requirements that is vital to get right.
As we mentioned in our article on the benefits of templates (link below), one key benefit is systems that simplify managing employees, and maintaining compliance with legal requirements and employment laws.
In business (or product) fulfillment, where delivering products and services is critical for customer satisfaction, templates can be utilized to systemize various tasks and ensure consistency in operations.
Here are some areas where businesses can use templates in product fulfillment:
In summary, templates are an essential tool for all parts of the business.
This series has looked at the benefits and where templates can be used. In our next instalment, we will consider how to create effective templates and customize them for your needs.
Other blogs in this series on small business templates:
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