Do you feel like you’re ready to be a bigger little business? Read on! If you love lists as much as I do, you will enjoy this method of planning how to free up your own time.
In seven years, my web design studio, Aeolidia, has gone from being just me on my couch, to a team of 22 people (including me, still on my couch). While I have been very diligent about learning and improving all the time, I have never put together a business plan or seriously set goals for the business. This has worked out for me so far, but this year, I am working on being purposeful!
Most of our business milestones just happened to me, and it was my job to jump into them with open arms. Now that I’m not resisting growth, I can see that I could have sped up the process by seeking out these opportunities. Clearly, a structured plan is not a prerequisite for success, but it seems to me it couldn’t hurt to prepare for it.
Our slow and careful growth at Aeolidia has served us well. If our growth and popularity had happened very suddenly, I would be worried about it UN-happening. I don’t think you should be in a rush to be the biggest or the greatest or the most famous. You don’t want to be a trend of a fad. Instead, stay small and learn from your customers or clients. Do your best work and build a solid foundation for the success that will eventually come to you if you’re diligent and conscientious.
What do you do all day, anyway?
When your are your business, of course you are doing everything. When everything gets to be too much, remember that there is only one of you, and you don’t want to be your own slave!
You will know when it’s time to grow when you’re working efficiently, but you never feel caught up, and when you can afford to invest in some help. This is one of those steps forward that seem like a “chicken and egg” problem: you need more money to hire help, but you need the extra help to make the extra money. With a solid plan, you can trust that the investment and the subsequent lean period will pay off.
I got some awesome advice about delegating tasks during the Hiring Help talk at Alt Summit this year. You may be so busy working in your business (instead of on your business) that it’s hard to be sure what exactly it is you do. I barely knew, and I had some pretty huge lists when I finished this process.
What do you WANT to do?
Spend a work week or so writing down every task you do to run your business day to day, from small to large. Make sure you add in anything you do on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis as well. Then, either color code each task or copy it over to one of these lists:
List 1: Things I am good at that I enjoy doing.
List 2: Things someone else should do.
List 3: Things I intend to do, but don’t have time for.
You’ll now have a great picture of what needs to happen to run your business. Does the #1 list look reasonable, like you’d have enough time in the week to make it all happen, and live your life? If not, glare at it again, and be realistic. You don’t have to hang on to any tasks but the ones where you are truly the only person who could get them done well, or you find that they bring pleasure and/or satisfaction to your work.
Trash any unproductive busywork
Now that your lists are reasonable, take a look at each. Ask yourself:
- Are there any tasks here that could be automated or streamlined? Perhaps you just need something like an invoicing tool, or a program to schedule social media posts.
- Are any of these tasks a one-time project, rather than recurring work? Perhaps you could hire an accountant, a photographer, or a web designer (hi!) to take over a big project that’s making it hard to get your routine work done.
- Which tasks are necessary to run the business? Can you drop unnecessary ones?
- Which tasks will bring in income?
Cross off any non-qualifying tasks, and feel the freedom of losing those time wasters! What’s left on the lists now should all be vital tasks that help your business bring in income.
Divide up the real work and make a plan
The #3 list can be divided up – put the things you want to do that you will be good at on your own list, and put the rest on the #2 list. What do you have on the #2 list now?
If it’s just a few tasks, you may be able to delegate them to someone else in your company (if it’s not just you!), or hire part time help, a virtual assistant, or an intern. If it’s a big list, stand back for a moment in awe of how much you were trying to do by yourself, and start making a plan to hire an employee.
Share your story
What about you? Is your business just yourself, do you work with family, or have you hired employees? Do you outsource some of your work to contractors, freelancers, or virtual assistants? Do you feel like it’s time to grow your business?
What questions do you have about the specifics of hiring? We’d love to tackle them in a future post on Oh My!