Do you use templates in your business? Most of us have a few places we use them, but you probably didn’t realize that they can save you time (and offer other benefits) in every area of your business. If you’re not using templates now, it’s time to start.
What Are Business Templates?
Business templates are readymade documents where you change just a few details each time you use them. You save the template on your computer or online and whenever you need to create that type of content, you use the template.
Here’s a list of possible Templates which can be used for various purposes:
- Transaction paperwork, like invoices, sales orders, order acknowledgements, and quotations
- Documents for meetings like invitations, agendas, and reports
- Email communications that you send regularly, both internally and externally
- Organizational documents, like to-do lists, calendars, and time management documentation
- Material for education, such as course outlines, session agendas, and checklists
- Job descriptions, onboarding and training materials, and employee review paperwork
- Contracts and agreements
- Professional bios for social media sites, blogs, and other online publishing platforms
- Company newsletters and email newsletters
- Annual reports, bid proposals, project checklists, and budgeting documents
- Long-term planning materials such as business plans and marketing plans
You can use a template for any type of document that you need to create repeatedly. You can even design templates for things like social media images and other software-based content that you use regularly!
What Problems Do Templates Solve?
Content creation can take a lot of time and effort.
With templates, you can shorten the process. Just go to your folder where you have templates and choose the appropriate file. Open it, and you have your basic content. You’re now ready to make whatever changes need to be made.
Starting out, it takes a little effort to plan and create these templates. But it’s time that you save later. Once you have them designed and filed where you will easily find them, they’ll significantly reduce your (and your team’s) workload—freeing you up to do other things.
Other Benefits You Can Enjoy Using Templates
Aside from saving you time, templates offer a number of other benefits:
Cut Procrastination. Because you have your content already formatted, you’ll spend no more time getting started with a blank slate. You can just open the necessary file and get started right away.
Better Consistency. Since you design all your content at once, you’ll have better consistency and improved efficiency. You can make sure all your materials are standardized.
Reduce Errors. In a rush to create a piece of content under time pressure, mistakes can be made—important details can be left out. With templates, you can get standard details right the first time and focus on improving quality instead.
Branding. While creating your content, you can choose design elements that help with your branding. This is especially important for templates you’re using externally.
Present a More Professional Image. With better consistency and fewer errors, templates will make your business look more professional.
How Templates Work
To see how they work, let’s look at a few examples.
Invoices. Many businesses do this already with their invoices. On an invoice, your company’s name and business details don’t change. So, your template would have a basic format that includes that information. You just worry about the details that change each time, such as your client’s name and address, invoice items, and prices.
Online Courses. If you do online courses, you might have regular templates for parts of the sessions, such as: warm up, presentation, discussion, and action steps. You can create outlines with the format and parts that stay the same, and just fill in the new material each time. You can even create standard graphics for announcing each session, where you just change the topic, time, and date.
Marketing Plans. You might be surprised to see that templates can be used for larger projects too, like marketing plans. In this case, your template might have multiple parts to it that can each be pulled out. For example, if you target different segments of a market, you might have templates for separate target audiences. The same goes for your budget and timeline. With the format and formulas already on templates, you can just plug in the information for your next campaign and see costs and dates calculated for you.
How to Get Started with Templates
Although you can create these when you feel the need, the best strategy is to approach it in a systematic way.
Start by identifying content you can turn into standard formats. Don’t stop with just routine paperwork. Review the list of ideas above and decide which ones you can implement. Make a list, and prioritize the ones you most commonly use (ones that would save you the most time in the short-term).
Next, create a workflow for getting the templates done. An easy way to do this is to take content you’ve already created and make adjustments. This keeps you from having to make each template from scratch.
Before you start creating your templates, create a filing system. This is very important, as you’ll want to be able to immediately find them when they’re needed. Create a folder for templates, inside which you have categories for different tasks or areas of your business.
A good way to organize is to name your templates using key words so that they’re automatically alphabetical within the files. This also makes them easy to search for. Make sure you delete old versions whenever you update a template, so you don’t use the wrong one.
Keep Creating New Templates
Once your templates are created and organized, keep looking for content you can transform. Go beyond the ideas here and see where else you can create standard templates that will help you save time so you can focus on more important things.
You can get started by looking at exactly where you’ll benefit from using templates in your business, using our free worksheet – “Are You Ready for Templates?” HERE.
And if you’d like to get 18 proven worksheets, templates, and resources for your business, check out this bundle: