Utilizing templates is an effective way to streamline your workflow, enhance your branding, and improve your overall productivity. In this post, we look at the advantages of incorporating templates into your business and provide tips on how to find the ideal templates for your needs.
Where do you use templates in your business? Many businesses have a few places where they use templates, but you might not be aware of how they can save you time and offer other benefits in many areas of your business. If you’re not using templates yet, now is the time to start.
What Are Business Templates?
Business templates are ready-made documents where you change 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 can use the template rather than creating it from scratch.
Templates can be used for various purposes including:
Email communications or series that you send regularly, both internally and externally
Organizational documents: to-do lists, calendars, and time management documentation
Material for education such as course outlines, session agendas, and checklists
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
Transaction paperwork: invoices, sales orders, order acknowledgments, and quotations
Documents for meetings: invitations, agendas, and reports
Job descriptions, onboarding and training materials, and employee review paperwork
Contracts and agreements
Professional bios for social media sites, blogs, and other online content publishing platforms
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 posts and other software-based content that you create regularly!
What Problems Do Templates Solve?
Content creation takes a great deal of time and effort. Consider the hours you spend sitting in front of a blank screen, thinking about how to get started. With templates, you cut out this unnecessary step. Just go to the folder where you have your templates and choose the appropriate document. Open it, and you’re ready to make whatever changes need to be made.
It takes a little effort to plan and create these templates, but this is time you save later. Once you have your templates designed and organized where you will quickly find them, it will reduce your workload, and your team’s, significantly - freeing up time to do other things.
Other Benefits You Can Enjoy Using Templates
Aside from saving you time, templates offer many other benefits as well.
Because your content is already formatted, you’ll spend less time than getting started with a blank page. You can just open the necessary file and get started right away.
Since you design all your content at once, you’ll have better consistency and efficiency. You can make sure all your materials are standardized.
We often make mistakes when we’re in a rush to create a piece of content under time pressure. You might also leave out an important detail. With your templates, you can get it right the first time and focus on improving quality instead.
While creating your content, you can choose design elements to help with your branding. This is especially helpful for templates you’re using externally.
Present a Professional Image
With better consistency and fewer errors, templates will make your business look more professional.
Focus on What’s Important
Most important of all, using templates frees you up to focus your energy and that of your team members where you need it most.
How Templates Work
By looking at a few examples, you can quickly understand how templates work.
Many businesses already have templates for their invoices. Since your company’s name and business details don’t change, your template would have a basic format that includes that information. You just focus on the details that change on each invoice, such as your client’s name and address, invoice items, and prices.
You might be surprised to learn that templates can be used for a high-level project such as a marketing plan. In this case, your template might have multiple parts to it that could each be pulled out. For example, you might have target audience templates if you target different segments of your market. The same goes for your budget and timeline. With the format and formulas already set out, you can just plug in the information for your next campaign and see costs and dates calculated for you.
If you use templates for your online course session outlines, you might have regular parts of the session, 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.
How to Get Started with Templates
Are you ready to start saving time using templates? Although you can create templates when you feel the need, the best strategy is to approach it in a systematic way and plan.
- 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 you can implement. Make a list and prioritize the most commonly used templates– the 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 the content you’ve already created and make adjustments. This keeps you from having to make each from scratch, which saves hours and days.
- Before you start creating your templates, create a filing system. This is especially important as you’ll want to be able to instantly find a template when you need it. A good way to file would be to create a folder for templates, inside which you have categories for different tasks or areas of your business.
- Name your templates using keywords 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 and effort so you can focus on more important things.
Written by Anne Albright