set your month up to be productive and profitable
How do you want to feel in your business?
Take a second and see what words come to mind.
Creative, in flow, powerful, on top of things, at ease, inspired, generous, abundant…anything else?
I would argue that systems are the key to literally anything you want to feel in your business. Too far? I don’t think so…
Creative — you need to have freed up time and mental space to let the wheels turn. Systems help with that.
In Flow — having to stop and start every time you try to do something is the opposite of flow. Systems help with that.
Generous — you’ll have more time freed up to be generous in whatever way you want if you have…you guessed it…systems.
You get the point. Systems make everything better!
So when a colleague asked me what my routine was for closing out a month I was shocked that I don’t have one documented. It’s not that I don’t do things every month, but I had just never formalized an “end of month” routine.
All that changes today. In this article I’ll outline what I do in my business every month, and some ideas of other things you might want to consider as you transition from one month to another. There is no “right” routine since all of our businesses are different, so take this as a template and see what could work for you. Some of the things I list you may need to do more often than monthly, and others might not apply to you at all. The point is to build it so you don’t waste precious mental energy each month recreating the steps from memory.
And remember, you don’t have to do all the steps in this yourself. If you have an assistant or a team, they can certainly help you with these routine tasks. You don’t have to bear the weight of this all yourself.
Goals and Planning
Although you may be reviewing your goals and plans on a more regular basis, monthly is a nice time to check in with them more deeply. It’s good to wrap your head around what needs to be done in the month and what you got done from the previous month.
· Celebrate accomplishments — I wrote about this in a previous post and shared my accomplishment tracker there. Personally, I fill out the tracker as things happen, but I also glance over the whole thing when the month changes over.
· Plan tasks — I use Laura Posey’s Simple Strategic Roadmap to plan my quarterly projects and I use my mastermind coach Caroline Leon’s Planning Dashboard to plan my monthly priorities and tasks. I may also take this time to update my Courage-Based Plan. You don’t have to over-complicate this. You can simply just look ahead and see what you’d like to get done this month, keeping in mind your bigger picture goals. This is so much easier when you’ve planned your year from the start. In this step you might also look at if there are outstanding tasks from the last month and decide what you’d like to do about them.
For me, all my financial cycles are monthly so this makes sense. I’m reviewing my finances on a much more regular basis, but there are a few things I do at the end/beginning of every month.
· Send invoices — I tally up the hours I’ve been tracking, verify that they’re correct, and send my invoices. I also follow up on any outstanding invoices if I haven’t already.
· Pay myself — Using the Profit First method I pay myself the allocated amount that’s due
· Pay other things — like daycare, credit cards, tax installments, and whatever else is due. Plus I usually put money into my retirement fund or any other savings accounts like education savings for my daughter.
· Budget — My family uses You Need a Budget, so I make sure after I pay myself that the money gets allocated appropriately in there.
· Tracking — This is new for me, but I’m now tracking my sales and income on a monthly basis.
Those are the two main categories of tasks I do each month. Throughout the month I’m also monitoring my time off and how I’m feeling, and checking if I need to schedule a day or two extra off in the next month. I wish I was better about getting to Inbox 0 each month and I should probably also review any outstanding tasks in my Action Journal, but so far those are both haphazard things that just happen when they happen.
Some other things you may need to do each month might include:
· Anything related to employees or contractors — team meetings, payroll, renewing contracts, etc.
· Touching base with vendors or referral partners
· Reconciling receipts and expenses
· Sending clients progress updates or reviewing their projects for the month
· Making loan payments, paying rent, or any other expense or finance related thing
· Reviewing inventory, supplies, or any other goods
· Tracking mileage
And there are probably hundreds of things I’m missing on that list.
How to Keep Track of Your Monthly System
This is where we talk about actually putting this information to use. My way is pretty simple, but yours might require a bit more finesse if it’s more complicated.
I simply use my time management method of putting everything in my calendar and putting it on repeat. So for example, invoicing clients is set to repeat for the last week of every month. Then I just move the time block around to the time it makes the most sense to do it. I put all of these monthly tasks in placeholders on the appropriate Friday, then move it to the time I’ll actually do it closer to the day. You can read all about what I mean in this article here.
For something requiring a bunch of steps, I make a checklist in Asana (my project management system) or I would make a template. For example, if you wanted to have a monthly team meeting, you might make a template for what typically goes in those monthly meetings. Then throughout the month you would add notes to that document so you didn’t forget anything by the time the meeting rolled around.
So that’s it! I have to say, having writing it all down I realize I had more of a system than I gave myself credit for. And you probably do, too. The key is to get it written down and out of your head so you can free up some space for all of those wonderful feelings you want to have in your business. Because the point isn’t systems for systems sake — it’s to give you the freedom and to create your business and life exactly how you want it.
Looking for an alternative to the mainstream business advice you read online? Stephanie gives you permission to do business on your own terms. No nonsense, thorough, and immediately useful, her wisdom cuts to the chase of what you really need to succeed. To get articles and behind-the-scenes business insights delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to her weekly Permission Slips here.