As a creative entrepreneur, “rework” can be one of the most demoralizing pain points in your business.
You know… that sinking feeling you get when you accidentally lose a file you spent hours on. Or when you pour your heart and soul into a project, only to find that it’s not quite hitting the mark with your clients or audience.
Rework comes in many shapes and sizes and can feel like a constant uphill battle, stalling your progress and draining your creative energy. Sometimes it looks like going through yet another round of client revisions and other times you may just realize that you misunderstood the assignment and need to start from scratch to realign with the original project goal.
No matter the reason, this never-ending cycle of iterations isn’t just a time and energy killer. It’s also draining your resources, tainting your client relationships, fueling your self-doubt, and making any semblance of a work-life balance laughable!
Not to mention, it’s so darn frustrating!
Instead of creating space for new ideas, creativity, and opportunities, rework is directly hurting your business.
In this week’s blog, I’ll break down my best strategies as an outsourced Chief Operations Officer for doing away with rework for good so you can overdeliver on client projects, maintain your sanity, get a handle on things, and feel confident about the creative work you love!
Let’s get your creative business humming along like a well-oiled machine!
Getting it right the first time can save you a load of trouble. But, often it’s easier said than done.
Luckily, as an artist and designer myself, I’ve had a ton of experience figuring out where to focus your attention as a creative to cut back on extra work, optimize your time, and improve the quality of your services or products!
When you nail it on your first go, you can actually cut down or even wave goodbye to all that pesky rework!
Put in some extra effort upfront and you’ll be able totally blow expectations out of the water on every single project.
Dodge the whole messy business of fixing and firefighting down the road.
Over the past 15+ years in my creative business and during my time as a business coach and outsourced COO for creatives, I’ve learned the two-fold secret to kicking rework to the curb in your creative business once and for all:
Put your focus on how things run behind the scenes and how you connect with and serve your clients.
To steer clear of rework in your creative business, your internal systems need to become your allies instead of foes.
Imagine if your studio was always messy, and every time you wanted to create or do something, you had to clean up first.
It would be tiring, right?
Well, the same goes for the backend systems and ops in your creative business. If things are all over the place and you start each project from scratch, it’s not just a lot of upfront work—it also means you’re more likely to make errors and might have to do things over and over again!
So, here’s a better way: spend some time making a clear plan for how you’ll keep your digital stuff (like software systems and files) organized and how you’ll do your projects.
When you have a plan, you won’t waste time and energy, and you’ll be able to do your creative work without always redoing things.
Staying organized is a crucial aspect of managing your projects effectively and avoiding unnecessary rework. Knowing where your digital assets are can save you valuable time and frustration.
I recommend you create an intuitive, reproducible system that will take the guesswork out of your organization process so you can focus your attention where it really counts.
By implementing these organizational strategies, you can minimize the chances of rework due to lost or misplaced work. Instead of just thinking of organization as a “nice to have,”, reframe it as an investment in your creative business (and your sanity)!
COO Tip: These tips translate to physical files as well! A lot of the world has moved away from physical files, but it’s still very much a thing for visual artists, illustrators, makers, and designers. Whether it’s flat files to store artwork or a shelving system to store and manage products, stock, and prototypes, they all need to be organized and have a system!
Once your file and asset management systems are in place, it’s time to nail down your project workflows.
I know your work is far from standard, but that doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch every time you begin a new creative project. If you do a task in your business more than once, it should be systematized and standardized to ensure efficiency and consistency from project to project.
You can do this by creating and implementing SOPs. SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedures. It may sound like a fancy term, but essentially an SOP tells us exactly how, when, and where something should be done (and if you have a team, who is responsible).
These copy, paste guidelines, and repeatable systems ensure you’re never flying by the seat of your pants! Plus, you can hone and refine your SOPs over time so they can grow, expand, and evolve with you!
COO Tip: Product-based businesses can use SOPs too! This is a great way to standardize the creation process. If you create handmade pottery, for example, your SOPs can outline the process including clay preparation, shaping, drying, firing, glazing, and final quality checks. This will help you emphasize safety measures and thorough documentation to ensure consistent quality and safe, efficient production.
I am also a big fan of harnessing the power of templates! You can easily weave these into your SOPs to make them even more actionable, clear, and specific!
Create them once, and use them over and over again!
You can use standard templates for…
Templates streamline your operations, saving you precious time and energy while making sure you have all the essential information you need in one easy-to-access location.
This kind of one-stop solution helps you avoid piecemealing scattered information together haphazardly from multiple emails, messages, and notes!
Not only do these templates make your life a heck of a lot easier than constantly needing to email, call, or Slack someone asking for this, that, or the other thing, but they can also help you look super professional and put together in the eyes of your client.
COO Tip: Templates can also give you insight into when and if things are going off the rails (as soon as they do!). They help you stay on the pulse of how your project is moving along so you can nip issues in the bud before or as soon as they arise. This is a great way to avoid rework or reduce the amount of rework that needs to be done before things spiral out of control!
Now that you’ve got the internal gears running smoothly, let’s zoom in on the client piece of the puzzle!
This is where the magic of client experience comes into play.
A well-crafted client experience does more than eliminate surprises (except the occasional good AND intentional ones) – it builds trust, ensuring your client feels valued and acknowledged. Trust paves the way for comfort and confidence in your work.
So how can you improve the client experience while reducing rework in one fell swoop?
Simple: It’s all in the way you communicate, the checkpoints you set, and the positive attitude you embody!
It may seem obvious that communication is important.
But so much time is wasted each and every day as a result of poor communication. And when information gets muddled because of these communication breakdowns, the likelihood of needing to tackle rework skyrockets.
Instead, when you communicate efficiently, your work becomes better, faster, and more impactful in the long run. You save yourself from the stress of working on the wrong things or moving in the wrong direction.
From resolving issues with clients to successfully tackling major projects with your team, the impact of effective communication is profound!
My 3 best communication tips are…
By ensuring that everyone is on the same page through clear, timely, and proactive communication, you eliminate unnecessary distractions that can derail your progress as you’re getting things done while reducing the amount of rework you need to manage in your business.
Want to keep your projects on track and slash rework?
Here’s a game-changer: set up checkpoints at critical milestones in your projects: beginning, middle, and end.
These moves will keep you laser-focused on your goals, and ultimately save you a ton of time, headaches, and energy.
Last but not least, you need to consider what you do if your client ends up sharing some not-so-ideal feedback OR you make a mistake (you’re human after all, give yourself some grace),
Sometimes, rework is inevitable.
If you’ve put in all your effort to organize, communicate, and strategize, but still receive negative feedback, there’s one thing left to do:
Sure, it stings to hear that your creative work didn’t match your client’s expectations. But remember, creativity is subjective, and you can’t please everyone all the time.
Instead of seeing rework as a setback, view it as an opportunity!
With an open mind and a balance of your vision and expertise, rework can actually be a positive thing.
Shift your mindset, and everything can change! Feedback is a chance to learn, grow, and improve. While you’d prefer to get it “right” the first time, the truth is, there’s always room to enhance your art, client experience, and process. Welcome the opportunity to make your work and your business even better!
COO Tip: I know failure doesn’t feel good, but it is a necessary part of growth! I’m all about failing, but failing fast and forward. You can learn more here.
To overcome unnecessary rework, the key is to strike a balance between your behind-the-scenes and client-facing processes.
Internally, staying organized to avoid misplacing or losing digital and/or physical assets and standardizing your repeatable processes as much as possible can help you save time and proactively prevent errors.
Open communication with clients from the outset, setting clear project objectives and milestones, and ensuring a thorough understanding of your client’s needs can help reduce the need for extensive rework.
Additionally, embracing feedback as an opportunity for growth and improvement can turn the frustration of rework into a valuable learning experience.
Remember, even the most successful creatives have faced setbacks and rework throughout their careers – it’s all part of the journey!
My 90-Minute Clarity Calls are the perfect way to get you out of the overwhelm and into aligned action.
We can work on:
Then click here to get the ball rolling and I’ll be in touch!