Do Systems Help or Hurt Creativity?

Kristen Baird is a 28-year-old woman who owns and operates a (multiple) six-figure small business in a male-dominated industry.

 

Do I have your attention?

 

Kristen certainly has mine.

 

I met Kristen Baird in a business association of which we are both members.  She stands out, not only because of the exquisite jewelry that she designs, sells, and wears, but also because she has a dynamic personality that immediately draws people to her.

 

In my few conversations with Kristen, I knew that there was something smart happening there, and I just knew that she belonged among my #ProductivitySuperheroes.

 

So, I interviewed her.  And, I was right.  Kristen’s success is not accidental.

 

Kristen is the Chief Visionary Officer of her self-branded line of fine jewelry.  She designs jewelry collections and produces commissioned pieces for clients.  She graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) with 4.0 GPA and a valedictorian nomination.

 

As if that weren’t enough, she opened her company, Kristen Baird Jewelry, in 2015 and began designing wearable art pieces that are currently sold up and down the east coast.

 

She is running a successful new business in an industry dominated by family legacies.  Nobody handed down this brand to her.  She built it.

 

 

How is this not simply a craft room hobby?

 

First, Kristen is tremendously talented.  However, as we all know, talent isn’t enough.

 

Kristen runs her business like a business.  And, she documents everything.

 

I am a huge proponent of systemization of business processes.  I write about it, and I teach my clients how to do it.  Kristen lives it.

 

Kristen documents her business workflows, procedure manuals, best practices, templates, resources, and approved vendor lists.  Her goal is to get business process information out of her head and into a collection of Google Docs accessible to her staff and interns.

 

She has built a spreadsheet containing links to each document.  The spreadsheet is a portal into the innerworkings of Kristen Baird Jewelry.  Her goal is to add ten new systems to the spreadsheet every week.

 

 

How has this creative millennial become a rock star of procedure documentation?

 

She documents processes as she works.  For example, Kristen was ordering packing materials one day.  As she went through these steps, she made note of everything she was doing.  She listed the vendor contact information, item #s, prices, and ordering instructions.  She decided how often she wanted these packing materials ordered, put that on a calendar, and turned the entire process over to her assistant to handle in the future.

 

She found ways to hold herself accountable to the task.  In early 2017, Kristen applied for (and won!) the Halstead Grant.  This grant encourages small jewelry business owners to think about their business holistically:  marketing, strategy, partnerships, finances, etc.  It is an intense process.  Just like folks who sign up for a 10k to get into shape, applying for the Halstead Grant inspired Kristen to systemize her business.

 

She is tech savvy and finds tools to use.  Kristen has built a business toolkit consisting of:  Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Drive, Schedugram, Vox, Loom, and others.  She values efficiency and takes the time to research and select tools that will help her streamline the processes she is documenting.

 

 

Why should anyone bother documenting their business processes?

 

Documenting her business systems has allowed Kristen to spend more time being creative.  It is difficult for Kristen to switch back and forth between jewelry design and business administration.  Having business systems that her staff can enact on her behalf allows her to set aside large blocks of time for uninterrupted creativity.

 

And, isn’t that the fun part of owning a fine jewelry business anyway?  Lots of time spent with expensive metals and sparkly rocks?

 

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, developing standard operating procedures (SOPs):

  • Makes your business more valuable. Ever want to sell your business?  Your SOP manual will put money in your pocket.
  • Frees up your time. If you are the only one who can snookelflaken, then you better not ever take a vacation, enjoy a break, go to sleep, or die.
  • Allows you to delegate while still maintaining appropriate control over the business. Kristen has specified how she wants phone calls and emails answered.  She is not handcuffed to these tasks because of fear of how they will be handled.
  • Invites possibilities. If all you are doing is working IN the business, how are you ever going to find time to work ON it?
  • And so much more…

 

Even if you don’t own your business, you can still benefit from developing SOPs.  They can help you work yourself out of a job, which is a good thing.

 

If you are struggling with where to begin, I can help.  I teach individuals and teams to document, and improve, processes at work.

 

Let’s schedule a no-cost-to-you initial assessment to discuss your needs.  Call 912-417-2505 or email me at getproductive@melissagratias.com.

 






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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at getproductive@melissagratias.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.

 

8 Comments

  1. Charlotte Fleming

    Excellent and informative. Shared with my millennial, my entrepreneurs, and friends. Well done to both of you!

    Reply
    • Kristen Baird

      Thank you so much Charlotte! I hope my story can be helpful to your friends. Systems can be daunting at first but are addictive once you get the hang of it. There’s just something about organization and processes that is good for the entrepreneur/business owner soul. Also, Melissa is fantastic at capturing the details and putting them into an excellent article that we can all learn from! Thank you Melissa for being a superhero when it comes to keeping us all organized and productive.

      Reply
      • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

        My pleasure, Kristen! This was an easy article to write – so much good content.

  2. Kathy

    Great tips! Thank you for sharing a process for establishing systems.

    Reply
    • Kristen Baird

      Hi Kathy! I hope my story and systems building process can help you. It’s been a lifesaver for me as I’ve rapidly scaled my business. Best of luck to you!!

      Reply
  3. Gesa Pickbrenner

    This is so very helpful indeed. The entrepreneurial approach of Kristen Baird is also very inspiring to a new business owner.
    A big thank you for sharing the story!

    Reply
    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Kristen does have the right approach – she works ON her business rather exclusively working IN her business. Many experienced entrepreneurs struggle with that.

      Reply
  4. Seana Turner

    What an impressive entrepreneur. I agree that having systems is vital to a smooth operation. I need to do a better job of documenting my systems in case something happens to me. A system that only one person understands isn’t very helpful, right?

    Reply

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