I became a business owner when I was 25. I started as a sales consultant and worked to become an owner of Border7. I LOVE owning a business. I enjoy thinking of new ways to help our clients, problem solving and figuring out how we can improve the business.
Maybe I was naive, but I didn’t fully appreciate how tough of a job running a business would be, especially when life throws a few unexpected challenges at you.
When You’ve Gotten Working Hard Covered
2018 was a tough year. A close family member was diagnosed with an aggressive type of cancer. My family was shocked by the news, and looking back, it was such an out of body experience.
I chose to take time away from the business (I had been spending 60+ hours a week working) and accompany her to all of her appointments, treatments and stay with her in the hospital for her surgery.
I was scared. I worried that my team would need me in the office and that the business would suffer. More than anything, I worried about the treatments and if she’d respond to them.
But, when I made myself drastically reduce the time I spent in the business, my team had my back and I was able to gain clarity
I wanted to share my experience and these tips because I know what it’s like to put so much of your time, heart and soul into your business and feel absolutely exhausted.
So, here are 7 tips on how to work smart in your business (when you’re already working hard enough)…
7 Tips to Work Smarter
1) Get a Planner & Prioritize
Use a planner to block out chunks of your day for meetings & 3 things you need to get done that day (I prefer mornings for meetings and I block out Tuesday as my day to work ON the business).
Being able to look back at what I’ve accomplished each week is a huge motivator in keeping my momentum going. It also serves as a useful way to record my progress with the business, so I can look back and see when specific things were completed.
2) Stop the Back & Forth Emails
I used to think I was being accommodating when I’d say “let me know what time works for you” to a client or partner. I realized that emailing back and forth or playing phone tag is inefficient for both sides.
I respect my client’s time, as well as my own. Save a huge chunk of your day by getting a scheduling app to help you set meetings without the back-and-forth emails! (I use Calendly because it integrates with my Outlook calendar, so I get reminders and can make sure I don’t have overlapping appointments).
3) Set a Schedule & Stick to It
Decide what you want your week to look like and set your app’s availability around that time. (Do you want time to work on the business instead of in it, or do you want to attend a networking event?)
As the owner of your business, it’s important you keep enough energy up, and some thinking power in reserve for when you need to make important business decisions. If you let yourself get exhausted or run down, you won’t be your best and it can hurt your business.
4) Use Tech to Streamline
Once you’re in the habit of recording your daily & weekly activities, you can now see what areas could be streamlined.
You might also notice that some tasks could be delegated to other team members, or automated by technology. If you find you or your team is doing a repetitive task manually, chances are that you can use technology to automate it.
5) Get Optics on Your Business
Create a business dashboard spreadsheet that details the key optics you need to gauge the performance of your business and the availability of your resources. (If you don’t know how to read your business dashboard, you don’t really know how well you’re performing).
Some of Mine are:
- # of New Projects
- # of Quotes Sent
- % Conversion Rate of New Projects
- % Billable Hours
- Total Monthly Revenue
- Total Monthly Expenses
- Total Monthly Profit
- # of Active Projects
- Average Time Spent per Project
6) Trim the Fat
Even when your business is doing well, consider if you can downgrade a monthly subscription or get rid of it altogether. (I realized we were paying for several 3rd party apps that we either didn’t use enough to justify paying for them, or, we used features that were available in a free plan).
You might also have employees that are nice people, but they aren’t profitable. It’s important to assess if everyone and everything is helping to generate a profit for the business.
Cutting back the unnecessary allows you to focus on your vision for the business and your main goal.
7) Use Data to Make Important Decisions
Stop using “your gut” or feelings to make your decisions. Schedule a block for “Thinking Time” and write down an important question you are considering. Make sure you don’t have any distractions and spend 20 minutes writing down what pops into your head.
Some of it will be random thoughts like “why am I doing this, I could be doing xyz”, but you will get some new ideas you had not yet considered. Make sure you then refer to your optics dashboard to support your decision, and if needed, schedule more thinking time to consider what the data is telling you.
Bonus: Take time to Enjoy Life & the People Who Matter to You
Although many of the months in 2018 were filled with doctors appointments, infusions and surgeries, I enjoyed getting to be there for my family. It also reminded me a big part of why I became a business owner in the first place: to have control over my own schedule and have the freedom to take time away from work when I needed/wanted to.
Thankfully, she is in complete remission, and I’m so grateful for her all-star medical team. This experience also taught me the importance of working smart, not just hard. As a business owner, chances are that you feel responsible for EVERYTHING. And the truth is, you are responsible for a lot.
BUT, if you have a good team, optics on your business, and a personalized road map on how you plan to realize your vision, you can be happier, more productive, and have more time to enjoy life!
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