How to create systems when you’re just starting your business

This post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.

When you are just starting your business, you may have a hard time figuring out all the systems and processes you need to have in place.

I mean, understandably, right? You have so many new things to consider and so much that you’re still learning all whilst trying to serve your clients and your business at the same time. It’s like you’re trying to build a house on a moving truck.  

Here’s a quick overview of what I cover in more detail below. In order to figure out what systems and processes you’ll need, you need to first list out and understand your services. Once you have your services, take each of them and write out steps (in order) that you have to do as the business owner AND the steps your lead/client have to take from inquiry to offboarding. It’s also important to create systems that can be used across multiple services so you’re not trying to recreate the wheel every single time. Once you have a system in place, it is much easier to scale your business.

So, let’s dive into this with a bit more depth, shall we?

ONE: Understand your services

Write out all the services you’re offering or want to offer. Remember to include any add-on services or upsells you want your client to buy. It’s very easy to overlook what processes you need to deliver those too! Make sure you don’t forget about them by treating them like they’re the main service. 

TWO: Write out your ideal process

Write out each step from the time a lead contacts you, to booking them, to onboarding them, delivering the service, and offboarding and collecting testimonials.

It’s helpful to break up the steps into steps the lead/client takes, and the steps you as the business owner takes.

Inquiry phase steps example:

Lead step – Inquiries via website (usually using a contact form)

Business owner step: Automated response acknowledging inquiry (Usually an email sent out letting the lead know when they can expect to hear back from you)

In order to have a service that your clients love, it is important to have a list of the things you want to do. It is also important to have the steps in place to make them happen. Ultimately, the best is to add in every dream step you’d like to have, even if you have no idea how to automate or make it a reality. For example, if you would like to add client gifting to your client experience, write out the steps you would like to happen for this. Then, later when you have the time, research how you can actually implement these steps. 

get your systems checklist!

THREE: Understand what’s needed to make this process work

Decide what assets you’ll need to make all of your steps possible. This can be anything from the points of contact on your website to the copy for any communication needed, or even a calendar booking system and Google folders for client assets. 

Inquiry phase assets example:

Lead step: Lead contact form

Business owner step: Automated email copy (aka a canned email gets sent to them)

FOUR: Deciding on a platform

The big decision: which system to use for your automation! This is an often overwhelming part for many business owners – because there are a lot of good client management systems out there! However, two of the most spoken about ones are Dubsado and HoneyBook! Both of these are great options depending on your needs and way of working. Let’s go through a quick pros and cons list for each one!



  • Once setup properly, Dubsado is quite simple to navigate with no hidden tricks up their sleeve of where to find basic things! 
  • Dubsado offers many automated workflow actions and triggers, as well as a form builder where you can customize your proposals, questionnaires, contracts, lead forms (contact forms) to your brand.
  • You’re able to manage multiple brands on one account, so if you have different businesses or areas of business this is a great way to keep the two separate.
  • Their trial period has no time limit, but rather a client limit which means you can take as much time as you need getting used to the system


  • The initial set up can be quite a process, especially if you have multiple services and processes that need to occur at certain times 
  • Workflows can be tricky to set up if you don’t know how each step will work



  • The learning curve for HoneyBook is not too steep and users generally get the hang of it pretty quickly
  • They have an app, which is great for on-the-go use
  • You can batch emails to send to all of your clients in one go rather than emailing each client individually (this is great for out of office notices)


  • HoneyBook has fewer automation options to choose from compared to Dubsado 
  • You have to use the HoneyBook payment processor which might not work well if you’re already using other payment systems
  • HoneyBook is only available in the USA and Canada (for now!). So, if you’re like me in South Africa, HoneyBook isn’t an option!

Ultimately, both are great options, however I work in Dubsado because it’s incredible for customisation, client project tracking, and creating in-depth workflow steps that allows Dubsado to be my business sidekick! 

So there you have it, how to create systems in your business even if you’re just starting out – and to tell you a little secret, starting with systems even in the beginning of your business is great because it will allow you to work without the overwhelm and build a client management system that grows as you do.

get your systems checklist!

Dive Deeper:

Kendra Courtney

Kendra Courtney is a Certified Dubsado Specialist and workflow pro. Her love for systems began when she started working as a photographer back in 2017.
She discovered the need for time-and-energy-saving systems when she found herself spending more time doing admin than taking photos and working on projects.
Since then she’s been streamlining admin and automating anything a human doesn’t *really* need to be doing manually (we start our businesses for people, not paperwork!)
When Kendra isn’t setting up workflows, she enjoys running and doing ministry with her husband at their local church in Cape Town, South Africa.