It’s easy for experts to advise that you should be “working on your business and not on it”, but the reality of small businesses and startups makes that very hard to do. Especially if you’re the only person in the business! At the same time though, it’s definitely true! We do need to find a way to work on our businesses – but how?
Free Up Time For Working On Your Business
Of course you can’t work on your business while you’re spinning your wheels at 100 miles an hour. There’s no time and you’ve probably got no headspace left to think clearly. So, the first thing you have to do is free up some time. I know you’re working as hard as you can, so a few things will need to change. Here are some ideas;
Resist the Urge to Micromanage Everything
Being good at a lot of things is probably what gave you the confidence to start your own business. It’s great, but most all-rounders also end up as control-freaks. Think about all the different tasks you do and the ways you spend your time. Can all of it be so important? Can you;
- Start doing spot checks instead of checking everything?
- Batch your tasks so that you deal with certain things only once a week? (Eg banking, accounts receivable, invoicing, social media posting, etc)
- Give yourself time limits for certain tasks and accept that they might not be perfect? (Eg writing customer proposals)
- Get more clarity on your vision so that you can let some fires burn?
Delegate – When You Can
Although perhaps not possible for people just starting out, there is usually much more room to delegate than you might imagine. What’s that? You think that your staff can’t do what you need them to do? The problem is really that you haven’t invested the time in their training. Try setting a goal to have them taking responsibility for something new each week. Actually have a list which outlines all the things you’d eventually like them to be able to do. Tackle them one by one and before long, you’ll have a really useful team member. (Don’t forget to recognise and reward them for their increasing responsibilities as you go though!)
Even if you don’t have employees, you can still build a team of people around you. Perhaps you need a bookkeeping service, an outsourced web expert, a graphic designer, a copywriter? And with these people on board, think about expanding the breadth of their responsibilities. Just because they’re not on your payroll, it doesn’t mean that you can’t delegate tasks to them.
Set Up Processes, Systems and Procedures
If you find you’re constantly swamped with lots of little things, the first solution is usually to start batching your tasks. Instead of creating invoices as they come up or chasing overdue debts the moment you realise someone hasn’t paid, designate one or two times a week when you’ll do all of your invoicing or debt collection. The same goes with social media posting, paying your bills, and lots of other tasks.
Once you’re forced to do a lot of one task in a batch, you’ll soon start thinking about ways to do it more efficiently.
Make Working On Your Business Easy
Once you’ve freed up even a small amount of time, you’ll have some ability to start working on your business. But time and headspace is not all you need. You also need to put a few things in place to make it easy to work on your business.
Set a Clear Business Vision
Unless you know where you’re heading, it’s very difficult to get there – so this is where you business vision statement comes in.
If you haven’t already done this, here’s an easy way to create a business vision statement. And if you already have a clearly defined business vision, keep it in front of you so that this is always top of mind.
Use a Business Plan
With a clearly defined vision statement, you also need to be working from a Business Plan. If you haven’t yet created your business plan, here’s a one-page business plan template you can use. Whether or not you use this format, your first task for working on your business should be to create a practical business plan which links together;
- your business goals and targets
- the specific strategies you plan to use to achieve those
- and, then the specific actions that you’ll take to implement those strategies.
Spend some time doing this thinking and then commit to taking action. Don’t fall into the trap of overthinking by staying in planning mode. Instead, realise that tacking action is what will move your business forward – so most of your time should be spent implementing.
Block in the Time
Now that you are very clear on exactly what you should be working on, you just need to make that happen. The easiest way to do this is to block in specific chunks of time on your calendar. Think about when would be a good time to do this though – for instance, if there is usually an influx of customer service problems on Monday morning, don’t schedule it then.
Decide on one or two time slots a week when you’ll deliberately work on your business – and then, stick to it! You’ll be amazed at the way taking small actions consistently can add up to huge improvements.