Four Tips To Help You Stop Running Your Small Business In Circles

As we start and grow our businesses, many of us adopt practices and take on administrative baggage that might hold us back fromFrustrated child at desk working toward our goals and vision. With the vast majority of 2016 still ahead of you, now is the time to take an honest look at your business and ask yourself, “What should I be doing differently?”

 

So, where do you begin? Here are a few simple ideas to get you started…

 

Four Ways To Save Time And Streamline Your Small Business

 

  1. Focus!

 

If you think you’re doing your business a favor by multitasking, think again. A Stanford University study revealed that multitaskers have a hard time filtering out irrelevant information, and they’re more distracted and less productive. Give up on trying to multitask—it’s a surefire way to mess up. Focus on one thing at a time to get more done, more accurately, and in less time.

  1. Use your own photos or source from a site that has clearly stated attribution information.

 

When you pull images from the Internet for your blog and social media, you may or may not easily be able to tell who they belong to, what rights you have to use them, or what attribution requirements apply. Avoid running down a rabbit hole to chase the information you need by using your own photos or finding an online source of images that has very clear use and attribution rules. When I’m not using my own photos, I use freedigitalphotos.net (they have large selection of free photos). I also regularly purchase images from Canva—at $1 per image, you can’t beat the economy of their offering.

 

  1. Don’t let paperwork pile up.

 

Even though we live in a digital world, we still have a lot of cold, hard sheets of paper floating around our offices. In fact, approximately 50 percent of the waste generated by businesses is from paper. Many of us still keep printed copies of client agreements, invoices, receipts, and other documentation.

 

If you let your paperwork pile up, the process of filing it in its proper place can become a gargantuan endeavor that requires hours of your time. The bigger the pile, the more work you’ll have on your hands because you’ll need to sort through and organize it before you can actually put it in its place. Instead, place it where it belongs within hours or just a few days of when it hit your desk to avoid a marathon cleanup session down the road.

 

  1. Give your business a raise.

 

Many of us grandfather long-standing clients into rates from years gone by. It’s a wonderful way to show your appreciation for their continued business. Unfortunately it can cost you when your services are in greater demand and you discover your time spent on lower-paying clients doesn’t allow you time to take on more lucrative work.

 

If that’s the case, you may want to consider raising your rates to existing customers. I recently did this and found that overall my clients (with one exception) were fully accepting and understanding. Just be sure to review the contracts you have in place before taking that leap. And give your clients plenty of advance notice and an explanation as to why you’re increasing your pricing.

 

Running a more efficient small business doesn’t always require making big changes. Little tweaks can mean a world of difference in how much you can accomplish and how smoothly you can tackle your day-to-day to dos.

 

What changes will you make this year to streamline your business and make it more successful?

 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ways To Make Every Day A Take Charge Tuesday

It feels great when you know you’ve got control of your day, doesn’t it? As a small business owner, steering the ship versus getting Take Charge Tuesdayconstantly caught up in rogue currents allows you to chart your course and accomplish more. What better day than today to start making a more conscious effort to be the boss of your business instead of letting it be the boss of you?

Here are some ways to take charge of your Tuesday—and every other day for that matter:

 

Plan! Schedule your work for clients, your administrative tasks, and anything else that you know will demand your time.

Sure, the unexpected will sometimes arise and interfere with your best-laid plans. But with a schedule to guide you, you’ll be less likely to veer too far off course. Bonus tip: Schedule some “wiggle room” into your day to accommodate unanticipated client needs, technical issues, etc.

Don’t let email rule you; rule it. 

Suppress the urge to constantly check your email. Consider limiting the frequency at which you open your inbox so it doesn’t disrupt your workflow. Rather than let it interrupt your productivity all day long, plan to check it 2 – 3 times per day, applying the advice in bullet point number one.

Don’t keep your smartphone in the same room while you’re working on projects or tasks.

If you’re not expecting an important phone call from a client, project partner, or vendor, keep it out of reach. Or at the very least, turn off notifications and the ringer or forward calls into voice mail so you won’t find yourself distracted by the constant rings, dings and buzzes. Of course, if your business is one that by nature needs to regularly deal with emergencies, this tip may not be a realistic option. But for most of us, our contacts will experience no hardship by needing to leave messages we can respond to later when we can give them our full attention.

Don’t accept projects or clients that aren’t a good fit.

Sometimes you’ll quickly realize an opportunity isn’t ideal because of the scope, volume, or type of work. Other times, you may need to go with your gut instinct. As a business owner, you need to respect and make the best use of your time, talent, and energy. Choose projects and clients carefully, selecting those that align with your aspirations and goals rather than those that will suck the life out of you.

Begin the day by deciding to do one thing differently.

No matter how small or seemingly insignificant, think about what you can change in your processes, systems, and habits to give you more control and make your day run more efficiently. The three previous bullet points might be a good place to start.

A few other ideas:

Delegate a task that would be better done by someone else.

Start using a social media management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to save time.

Unsubscribe to email newsletters that you never read.

Eat better.

Get enough sleep.

How will you take charge today?

How To Avoid Administrative Angst & Procrastination Pileup

They appear innocent enough.

Those seemingly non-urgent pain in the @*# tasks you figure you’ll get to sometime. Maybe on a slow day or some other time when you find yourself Piles-of-workmotivated to tackle them.

So you put them on the back burner.

You’ve got more important things to do, right? There’s no sense in letting them take you away from your “real work.”

But the problem with ignoring small—yet eventually necessary—tasks when you’re self-employed is the longer you put them off, they bigger they become. They pile up. And then, instead of demanding just a few minutes of your time, they transform into mammoth undertakings that could require hours on end to get them under control.

Sound familiar?

Avoid Unnecessary Stress: Take a few minutes; Save a few hours.

 Working as a freelance writer these past five years, I’ve learned that procrastination nearly never has a positive outcome. It’s true when approaching work for clients—and when taking care of the administrative details that come with running a business solo. Here’s my short list of tasks that can go from “manageable” to “mayhem” if you save them for later rather than nipping them in the bud.

Generating invoices – Depending how many clients you have, you could find yourself spending hours producing invoices and sending them if you wait to do all of them at the same time. For project work, consider billing customers after you’ve completed the work instead of waiting until the end of the month. If you’ve got multiple recurring monthly assignments requiring invoices dated the first of the month, set a schedule to create them ahead of time so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

Logging your accounts receivables and deposits – Matching up invoices with checks and logging deposit dates can get harrowing if you’ve got a pile of them awaiting your attention. Save yourself the headache by tracking them in your accounting system as they arrive.

Filing paper copies – As much as I do business electronically, I do still keep some paper records on file. I know many other solopreneurs and small business owners who do, too. Again, putting them where they belong nearly as soon as they cross your desk can save you the hassle of shuffling through mass quantities.

Balancing your checkbook and reconciling your bank statement – If you like nightmares, let two or three or more months pass by before you pay attention to these tasks. While reviewing and matching up your checkbook’s records with those on your bank statement and in Quickbooks (or Freshbooks or Excel or whatever accounting tool you’re using) may never be a dream come true for you, it will go so much easier if you take care of it promptly each and every month. Plus, if there’s any discrepancy between what you’ve recorded and what your bank’s reporting, you’ll want to address it with them ASAP.

Logging your business mileage – That 56 cents per mile deduction can add up—and so can the time you’ll need to spend if you wait too long before logging the miles you’ve put on your car going to business meetings and events. I regrettably procrastinate on this one every quarter and then find myself muttering choice words under my breath as I scour my Google Calendar for the appointments I attended over the prior three months.

 With all of the above, I’ve learned that a few minutes now can save many minutes (sometimes hours) later. While you may feel tempted to put off those little to dos until tomorrow…or the next day…or the one after that, don’t procrastinate! It’s a mean, spiteful practice that will come back to bite you.

What administrative tasks have piled up on you lately?

By Dawn Mentzer (Struggling with writing fresh content for your blog? Drop me a note!)
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

 

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net