What does “better” mean? I think it has the same variant as “successful” in that for some it means more money but for others it means more time or less stress or more choice, and so on. So how do you build a better business? You start by focusing on the aspect you want more or less of and go from there.
Sounds easy, yes? It’s not. Not for most. Not for me. For me, it took the implementation of systems and processes so this is what I’m going to share with you. It helped me immensely and allowed me to grow my business, free up some time, decrease my stress, and double my revenue. Here’s what I did:
- Learn focus management (not time management)
- Start time tracking (and budget tracking)
- Refine client processes and procedures
- Have a plan.
1. Focus Management
There’s a lot out there around managing your time, but it’s really about how you spend that time and how effective you are on that task. Developing better focus allows you to do more in less time. Here are a few tips to try: have a clear plan of what needs to get done before you start, make sure you’re in a comfortable environment and a positive mood (various ways to do this but some may not be able to control this as much), schedule your breaks and put an end timer on to get you back to the task, log out of email (if possible) and social media to minimize distractions. Building a sense of urgency in your work is also helpful as without an end-time the task will extend to fill the time. This is not only a waste of time, but also a waste of money for your business.
2. Time Tracking
I didn’t start doing this one until I started taking on agency work. Best thing I ever did. I track what needs to get done, how long I think it will take, and then how long it took to complete. Not only does this help you predict bandwidth for taking on new work, it also helps you recognize your slacking and distractions. I use TimeCamp myself but there are many to choose from depending on the functionality you need. I also use a custom Excel Sheet to map out project work and estimate daily and weekly bandwidth. This has been really helpful as I’m a chronic over-scheduler!
3. Client Processes and Procedures
This is the part of your business where you open the curtain and invite your new client backstage. It’s an exciting moment if you’re ready for it but can be anxiety inducing if you’re not. It’s important to your client relationships to appear ready to take them and their business on. Think of any onboarding documents or processes like welcome emails/packages, kick-off meetings, thank-you notes, testimonial/review requests, and so on. If they follow a procedure unique to your business make sure it’s named and branded accordingly. This can take a while so if this is something that resonates with you, make sure you start setting aside time to build that out and allow time to have things professionally designed e.g. fillable charts and tables, Excel sheets that have built-in calculators, PDFs with instructions or steps. If these things don’t exist for your business then consider where something like this would be useful. It makes you look prepared and experienced.
4. Have a Plan
Having a plan is something that a lot of small business leave by the wayside. It’s unfortunate because a plan is something that summarizes your goals and how you’ll achieve them – which is an important part of small business growth. It is the culmination of your brainpower spent on what your business will be doing – make sense? Without a plan you will focus on tasks that might be disconnected or contradicting. You will have a harder time reaching your goals without a plan – business or marketing. A business plan will help you keep your vision and business growth goals clear. This will inform your marketing plan and what your marketing goals are so you can work towards them. A good plan will break it down from quarter to month to week -even to daily tasks. Start with defining your annual goals then break it down into the steps you need to do to achieve the goals. From there you can schedule when to achieve these goals (I like to spread this out over weeks or months).
Build a better business by being intentional with your time, prepared with clients and ready for growth. Investing effort now for these things will make you more efficient and will make your business run more smoothly.
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