As a solopreneur, small business owner or freelancer, your time is precious. You work hard to maximize the hours in a day, and routine tasks and repetitive processes can slow you down. It’s important to find ways to streamline your work so that you can get more accomplished in a day, week, year – especially as your business grows and expands.
There are many ways to streamline your business processes and tasks. These include delegating, outsourcing, and automation. But each of these requires a great deal of investment in time and resources. One easy way to streamline right now, with almost immediate results, is to create templates.
A template is any kind of document or graphic with a preset layout, formula, and/or style that is saved for re-use later. Templates can be used when creating everything from reports, project outlines, marketing plans, and internal documents, to social media posts, graphics, business emails, and newsletter articles.
With templates, when you’re ready to create a document, communication, or graphic, simply choose the appropriate template and change and adjust as necessary. Remove, arrange, or add updated information, and you will have the document or graphic you need in far less time than it would take to create from scratch.
Creating and implementing templates in your business saves time, but also offers a number of benefits that can have a major impact on all areas of your business.
In this article, you’ll learn the top 5 reasons your business needs templates
Reason 1 – To Increase Efficiency
Just imagine – you’re sitting down to write an email to a blog owner, reaching out to see if you can submit a guest blog post. You know you need to emphasize your expertise and the unique value you can offer, as well as pitch your idea, but somehow the words aren’t coming. If you had a template email, all you’d need to do is plug in the information and hit send.
One of the main reasons businesses use templates is that they increase efficiency. It takes time and effort to create and organize your templates, but what you’re doing is front-loading the work so that it’ll be a breeze when you need to use them.
Without templates, you have to start from scratch each time. It can feel like you’re reinventing the wheel. Using the guest blog post example, first you have to create a quick outline to make sure you cover all the important points. Then, you need to write the email and go over it a few times to make sure you’re not missing anything and proof for any errors. But make a template just once and you can use it every time you need it.
What about when you’re in a hurry and you need a document fast? If you have to pull it together at the last minute, you’re sure to make mistakes, not to mention the stress caused by time pressure. Templates make it easy and reduce the margin of error.
The same goes for emails, text communications, graphics, invoices, reports, employee reviews, and even complex documents like marketing plans. You don’t have to create them from scratch each time.
- Think about all the areas where you could use templates in your business. Estimate how much time this would save.
Reason 2 – To Establish Consistency
Templates don’t just save you time. They offer other benefits as well. One benefit is that they establish consistency in your business operations and communications.
Imagine you’re using a template to request a quote from your supplier. Each time, you ask the same thing, in the same format. This makes it easy for your supplier to take in key information at a glance. It reduces the probability of confusion and miscommunication.
Consistency is also helpful for public communications. When you publish material about your products or services, it’s good to use a template so that you present it the same way each time. This makes it easy for people to understand and makes sure you are communicating the same thing every time. As you grow your audience, they’ll come to expect this consistency from you.
This consistency is one of the key elements that creates a strong brand. People expect to see the same wording, design elements, and content types from you. When you meet these expectations, you create a clear image in your audience’s mind of who you are and what you’re all about.
When you create your templates, you should consider branding to make them as effective as possible. Think about your organization’s core values and how you communicate them. Create templates that reflect these core values to your audience.
For internal communications, templates can help you reinforce standards and protocols. Branding internally is also important as internal communications reflect your core values as a company.
Even more importantly, there may be key information you need to convey or remind the recipient each time you send out a communication. Creating a standard template helps you do this and ensures that you don’t leave anything out.
- What communications do you need to standardize?
- What templates can you use to help?
Reason 3 – To Gain Respect and Trust
Templates allow you to establish brand consistency and in turn, helps your business come across as more professional and polished. People will take you more seriously and gain trust in you, your brand, and your product/service.
Big companies use templates for their communications. Even if you’re running a small organization, you can leverage the power of templates to put yourself on an equal footing with larger competitors.
For example, when creating a template for your newsletter, you can add professional design elements. Subscribe to some newsletters from more established companies in your niche to get ideas. You’ll see how they use the same design elements to add a professional look.
The key is to design your templates with professionalism in mind. This is especially crucial for email templates. The emails you send give a strong impression of your organization. If you’re following up with people you met at a networking event or reaching out to someone to propose a business arrangement, you can plug the information into a professionally worded template and you’re ready to hit “send.”
Professionalism is important for external communications but also within your organization. To some extent, businesses need to brand internally as well as externally. However, it’s important to strike a balance so you don’t lose the personal touch. There are also some communications where it’s better to write a personal note rather than using a template.
- How can templates make your business look more professional and in turn, gain the trust of your customers, clients, suppliers, and other stakeholders? Brainstorm areas where you can use templates to boost your image.
- Choose design elements and tone for your templates.
Reason 4 – To Simplify Your Processes and Increase Productivity
Using templates greatly simplifies your business processes and increases your productivity.
For example, you may have a social media calendar that requires you to post multiple times weekly, announcing promotions you’re running. Even if you change the wording for each post, using a template as your foundation will turn a 20-minute task into a 5-minute task.
By reducing the time it takes to generate documents, issue invoices, create graphics, and send out communications, you’ll have more time to focus on other things. You’ll have fewer errors to deal with as well, which will further reduce your workload. Especially for small businesses with limited human resources, this is a great help.
The main reason templates are so helpful is that we have a tendency to get stalled at the creation step. Everyone has experienced sitting down to write and no words come. When you create a document, it’s easy to get hung up on layout and formatting, while you also need to focus on the content of the text.
If you use templates, you simply choose the appropriate one, make whatever small changes you need to, and then enter a handful of details. There’s no risk of getting stalled at the beginning. This is especially helpful for those who suffer from procrastination and perfectionism.
- Identify areas of your business where using templates would increase productivity.
Reason 5 – To Focus on What Matters
A great deal of document generation and communications is admin work that takes time away from more important activities.
As a business owner, you can’t afford to get drawn into its day-to-day operations, especially if these are routine tasks that anyone could do. You need to reserve your time for higher-level communications, strategic planning, big-picture thinking, and exploring new business opportunities.
If you’re spending time on mundane admin tasks, this not only takes away from your time doing more important things, but also drains your energy so you may not have any left for what really matters.
Using templates helps to make your business more efficient so that you can focus on more important things. This is especially helpful if you run your business by yourself. Templates can also eliminate the need for outsourcing or using your limited human resources for unnecessary tasks.
In fact, you can use templates for a number of “high level” areas of your business, such as managing meeting content and business or marketing plans. You can also create productivity templates such as to-do lists and schedules to help you be more productive as a business owner.
- Estimate the time you’ll save through using templates and plan how you’ll use that time.
- Identify productivity tasks where templates could help.
Getting Started with Business Templates
Using templates for your business will increase your productivity, decrease the potential for error, and will help establish brand consistency. Ready to get started?
The first step is to look at your regular business operations and see where implementing templates would help. Look for repetitive tasks or repeatable processes in your business planning, internal operations, communications, and marketing and advertising. There are some tasks that could use templates and others where it’s better to start from scratch. The first step is to identify which is which.
Once you’ve identified a few areas, it’s time to get organized. Identify any tools you’ll need to create and use your templates. Start with simple and free tools you already use like Word. Word offers many ways to format and save templates.
You should also have a file naming and storage system so that they’re easy to quickly grab whenever you need them. You may create a folder for file templates and separate into categories if you have a great deal of them. Title them so that they’re easy to find in an alphabetical list.
Then, it’s just a matter of implementing!
Do You Want to Learn How to Create Powerful Business Templates That Free Up Your Time & Improve the Quality of Your Business so That You Have More Money Flowing In?