As small business owners, we run the risk of getting so focused on our clients’ businesses that we forget to tend to the growth and development of our own. I have to admit, it took me almost a year to finish my website. I also couldn’t find the time to automate my own timekeeping and accounting system—and that’s a service I routinely provide to clients!
So, if you find yourself pushing off administrative tasks—like budgeting, business development strategy, task management and/or filing and organizing—or if you feel like your business is starting to run off the rails, then I have a few tips and tricks that may help based on my own experiences. Here are the basics:
1. Outline a budget
First, put together a personal budget for yourself. This will help you understand what amount of money you have to put into your business. Then, work on your business’ budget. Ideally budgets are done annually, but my clients who are new to budgeting experience the most success when they work in three month increments.
2. Organize a file structure that makes sense to you
It may seem like a small detail, but having your files sorted and keeping on top of them can save you a major headache down the road—especially at tax time. Whether it’s electronic or hard files, make sure you have an organized file structure that works for you.
3. Put a timekeeping or accounting system into place
Even though I’m guilty of procrastinating on this one of myself, it is important to have some sort of timekeeping and accounting system in place to manage and track your finances. This will also save you a lot of frustration come tax season and help you see how profitable you are on your projects. Can’t figure out which system to choose? Let us help.
4. Make a conscious decision about what to take on
Recently, I received the most valuable advice ever. My wonderful friend Anna Maria, CEO of Lumenis Partners, told me to, “Always make a conscious choice about what you decide to do and what you decide not to do. Start each decision with the words, ‘I choose to…’ or ‘I choose not to…’” Since taking Anna’s words to heart, my life has become magically less stressful. I highly recommend applying this mantra to your personal life, as well as your business.
5. Schedule time for your business
Similar to scheduling a client meeting, block out time in your calendar to sit and “meet” with your own business. I schedule time each week for my administrative tasks—email, filing, researching a new tool, analyzing my financials, scheduling and taking CPE—and for my business development tasks like managing LinkedIn, reaching out to colleagues, attending a networking breakfast or lunch, etc.
6. Celebrate the accomplishments and reschedule the unfinished
At the end of each day, I review what I’ve accomplished and what I didn’t have time to do or finish. For the accomplishments, I take time to enjoy the fact that I completed something—especially if it was a large project or something I didn’t feel like doing (we all have those “procrastination” tasks!). Give yourself a pat on the back for those “wins" instead of beating yourself up for not getting A, B, or C done. For the tasks that didn’t get done, I review the rest of the week to see where I can fit them in and re-prioritize if need be.
7. Accept that it’s always a work in progress and burn out is never worth it
It’s important to realize that you’ll never be finished or done with everything no matter how much time you spend on your business—and that’s okay! It’s just as important to let go of what you can’t do and take a mental break to enjoy your personal life, too. For me? If I don’t ride my horse at least twice a week, I’m a grumpy bear. I am MUCH more productive and effective with my business when I allow myself to enjoy my passion. While it’s true you may need to work a weekend here and there, don’t get sucked into working all your weekends trying to get everything finished. Burn out will take much longer to recover from than taking the time to give yourself small periods of R&R.
These are my go-to tips, but I’m sure there are dozens more out there. How do you “take care of business”? Do you have any tricks to help your small business stay on track? Share them below!