One of the best parts about owning your own business is you’re the boss. One of the worst parts of owning your business is you’re the boss. In fact, when you’re a solopreneur, you are the whole business – CEO, salesman, accountant, marketer, service provider. It can be overwhelming. You find yourself working 70-80 hours a week, and barely getting by. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to manage your time better and bring balance back to your life. Here are 5 time-management tips for solopreneurs.
Track your time – The best way to see where you’re wasting time is to first track it. Write down everything you do from the time you wake up, to the time you go to bed. And yes, this includes personal time like meals and exercise. Use color blocks on your calendar to categorize your time – Billable hours, Marketing, Networking, Personal, Admin, etc. Do you see patterns? Are you wasting your time in one area when you should be focusing on another? Are you spending large amounts of time on tasks you can delegate or hire out? Take action now to start altering your habits. Don’t try to change or eliminate everything at once. Start small, with something like forgoing your morning routine of trolling Facebook for 30 minutes. You’ll find yourself freeing up time for more important tasks.
Prioritize – We all know that when a deadline has to be met, that should be the number one priority. But what about the rest of your work? If you were to write down everything you have to do, what on that list MUST be done? Like a proposal for a potential client. What can wait a few days? Like writing your next blog post. What doesn’t NEED to get done, but it’s something you’ve been looking to explore? Like creating a product to sell. Prioritize your tasks for the day, week, month and year. Schedule time for yourself to work on the top priority items. Fill in spaces with the lower priority items. But always remember to leave white space on your calendar – time to handle emergencies. And don’t forget to schedule personal time for yourself too, to stay healthy. Finally, write it down! Even those with the best memories can forget things if distracted too many times.
Learn to say no – Admit when you have a full plate and can’t take on anything more. This may be volunteer work. Or it may even be a new client. While nobody likes to turn down a client, if you can’t find the time to get the work done, then either be open with them that they will have to wait a few months, or refer them to a trusted associate. They will appreciate your honesty and more than likely return for future projects. Be selective in the networking groups you join and the events you attend. Your purpose for visiting these groups is not to find clients, but to make connections for referrals down the road. Find the groups of people who are most likely to refer to you, and spend the most time with those people.
Productivity tools – Make the most of your technology. Whether you are familiar with the old standby, Outlook, or want to explore an online CRM like HubSpot, give yourself enough time to both learn it and maximize its potential. Keeping in contact with clients and associates will keep your business out there. Then when times are slow, you can draw on the contacts you’ve made. Tools like Google can also handle large volumes of email and help you sort through the important messages. If you’re not sure what product to use, ask around within your industry. See what others are using, and how it has helped them.
Delegate – Being a solopreneur means you don’t have employees to handle some of the small tasks like invoicing. You don’t want the expense or hassle of hiring an employee, though. The solution? Hire out what tasks you can, like bookkeeping and social media to a virtual assistant. VAs are experts in their individual fields, whether it’s creating and newsletter template and sending our campaigns, or managing your Quickbooks account. They work virtually, from their own homes, so there is no overhead for you. Yes, it may mean an outlay of money, but it will free up your time for billable tasks.
In order for your business to succeed, you need to work on it, not in it. You should be strategizing and creating and planning, not wearing all the hats. Ninety percent of new start-ups fail because they’re too busy doing nothing but work. Don’t become a statistic. Plan your time wisely.