By Dinette Rivera
Ever wonder how on earth you’re going to get everything done without working 16 hour days? Are you experiencing business paralysis? You have so much to do, you’re paralyzed at the thought of trying to get everything done? Your business has grown but you don’t have the steady cash flow to hire a team? How to get the job done without working yourself to burn out is a common problem among solopreneurs (businesses owned and operated by one person).
After working with hundreds of solopreneurs and starting out as one in my business, getting to the point of burnout and business paralysis can take the joy out of being an entrepreneur. Knowing I chose to become an entrepreneur to have greater freedom over my time, I had to understand how I was going to manage everything I needed to do. Instinctively I looked at time management first. Maximizing productivity starts before you even look at how you spend your time. Getting the job done, while avoiding burnout, will take the following 5 steps:
1. Get clear on what you have to do every day?
Make the time to create a list, in no particular order, of everything you must do to run your business. On my board of sticky notes, there are 24 categories. Each category has its own sub-set of categories. Categories include things like:
- Policies and Procedures
- Research and Development
- Accounting & Finance
- And so much more!
Think like big business. What does it take to run a large retail operation or a large training company? As a former employee in any business, what had to happen every day? What systems did they have in place to get things done? Understand that your systems, as a solopreneur, may not be as complicated as a larger business, but there have to be some systems in place that work for you and prepare you to grow.
2. When you think about your business, ideally, how would you manage it and how many hours would you work per day/week/month?
Why did you set out to be an entrepreneur? What was the reason? Did it include working long hours every day to infinity? Being a business owner requires work, but I have come to understand that we seem to work more not less, inspite of the new technologies created every day to “simplify” our lives. That’s a topic for another day. At issue is the belief that you have to work hard to make a living. The truth is you have to know what you’re working for and then decide how your work fits into your life and not your life into your work.
I was working from 6:00am to 10:00pm, six days a week and spinning my wheels for years. I finally did what I am sharing here because I was starting to burnout and had little time for the rest of my life. I now work from 6am to 1pm, I am more productive and have more free time.
- Take a good, hard, and honest look at what you’re doing everyday in your business. Are you missing out on your most productive time? What are the constant interruptions and can they be managed differently?
- Are you a morning person or work best later in the day or evening? You are the boss. Make your schedule for tasks requiring undivided attention around the time of day when you are most alert, energized and focused.
- Can you schedule appointments, meetings and calls outside of your most productive time?
3. Organize each of the main categories into a simple, step by step system
Within the categories you’ve chosen for your business, how can you create simple systems to manage the day to day operations? At first, this may seem a daunting task and you’re already too busy to get the income-producing activities done. If you don’t implement a foundation of operations systems now and your business experiences sudden growth, you won’t be ready. Remember, we’re establishing systems for a solopreneur.
- Start small. Start with one category and ask yourself what it takes to do the tasks? Make a list of what you do and how you do it. Is your office organized? Can you find things easily? Would someone else know where to find things?
- How can you organize what you do into a simple, step by step process that you can do easily and could be turned over to someone else?
4. What are the income-producing activities?
- Of all the business operations, which are the most important for bringing in new revenue and maintaining positve realtionships with existing customers?
- Create your step by step list for the revenue categories.
5. Implement your operations systems and manual
Its time to put everything together. If you’ve taken the time to do steps 1 through 4, you have the foundation for an operations manual. Take the step by step systems information and put it into a digital file. If you don’t have the time or inclination, eventually you can hire someone to turn your digital file into a formal Operations Manual. The manual will be there to provide valuable information for any new hires. As you continue to grow your business, keep a record of how you manage the tasks and create your step by step list. Add them to your operations manual.
- From the list you’ve created for your business, which take priority?
- Which operations are important, but might be manageable using software, free online services or automating?
- Put systems to work
- Schedule your time around your vision, priorities and systems
No system is perfect and it must fit you and how you function. One thing for sure, without systems your business will manage you instead of the other way around. I didn’t become an entrepreneur to burnout and I’m certain you didn’t either. Follow these steps and watch your business grow and your personal life improve.