Workflows: what they are and why you need them in your business

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Do you struggle with productivity? Are you a business owner managing your business and household at the same time? You’re not alone. I know first hand how difficult it is to balance work and life especially if you’re a working mom.

The number one thing I hear from small business owners (and people in general, really) is they wish they had more time. Time is our most precious gift – it’s truly something we can’t make more of. 

Workflows: what they are and why you need them

But what if I told you there were simple ways to help you free up more time in your schedule and create a clear step-by-step process for literally everything you do in your business? If you constantly find yourself working in the weeds of your business (things that don’t necessarily move the needle in your business) and you never seem to have time to create or work on your big dream projects, chances are you haven’t implemented workflows and automation in your business yet. 

Related blog post: How to automate your small business

Before I explain why you need workflows in your business, let’s understand the lingo that people are often confused about. 

  • Processes are the high level experience or steps you share with your clients in order to achieve the end goal. For example, booking, planning, executing, and delivering.
  • Workflows are the detailed lists of all the tasks and steps required to execute your processes. 
  • Systems are the tools you use to automate your workflows (e.g, your CRM or your scheduling app for your social media posts).

Why workflows? 

Now that you understand what the difference is between a process, a workflow, and a system. I want to address a conversation that comes up quite often when I chat with other small business owners. What I hear all the time is people don’t think it’s important to set up workflows or they don’t see the ROI by doing so. 

I totally get it. Workflows and systems are definitely not the sexy topics in the creative industry but I’m going to give you some tough love. If you don’t know what you’re doing in your business, how much time you spend on each task, and why you’re doing it, you will never be able to scale your business and grow a team effectively. 

It’s crucial that you document all the steps you take for every single task you do within your business so when the time comes to hire your first team member, you can train someone effectively and trust them to be able to deliver the same, if not more, level of experience to your clients. Instead of having them come to you all the time asking about what to do and how, you have a standard operating procedure document they can easily refer to.

I know it can be challenging to get started with setting up workflows, here are three easy steps to help you take action and get more time back!


1. Define what your ideal day-to-day life looks like (both personal and professional)

It can be tempting to look at what everyone is doing and follow their footsteps. While it can be valuable to learn from others, I want to challenge you to ask yourself what do YOU really want for your life and your business?

What do you envision yourself doing everyday that will bring you closer to your goals and give you more joy, presence, and fulfillment? This will help you see what areas/tasks in your business that bring the most impact, therefore determine what workflows you should set up first, which leads me to my next point.

2. Start with your top 3 types of workflows based on the level of ROI

The sky is the limit when it comes to building out your workflows and it’s not a once and done kind of thing. However, when you first tip your toes into working on workflows, I highly recommend starting with the most impactful ones. Think through which types of workflows will likely give you the best ROI and pick three to start. 

For examples: Onboarding, Marketing, and Offboarding 


3. Map it all out in one place

Now, open a Google Doc and start writing down all the steps you take to execute each stage of your process. Every business is different so just start with a brain dump of what you do. This is typically what a workflow looks like:

  1. Send contract and invoice (I personally use 17Hats for this)
  2. Once the contract is signed, order client gift
  3. Send link to schedule a kickoff call
  4. Do this ______ after __________

The best part about creating workflows is we get to see exactly what we do and automate most of the steps by using the right tools. This is also a good exercise to see what you are spending the most time on. Maybe you will notice some tasks you can remove from your list completely.  I will go more in-depth on the topic of automation in my next blog post. Stay tuned.

Creating workflows truly doesn’t have to be complicated. By investing your time and energy in documenting, streamlining and building out your workflows up front, you will have a strong foundation and systems in place to serve you and your clients effectively.

What questions do you have about productivity, systems, and workflows? Comment below and I’ll be sure to answer in a post soon!

Be sure to check out this blog post to learn more about how to automate your small business!

Workflows: what they are and why you need them

  1. […] task and document them. For example, if you need to teach someone how to do social media for you, your workflows might look something like […]

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