(Without being too overwhelmed)
Today I'm sharing with you one of the many sources I used when I started my business. As a fellow business owner, I completely get the crushing feeling of having to "DIY" everything. You have to learn how to be your own marketer, financial adviser, researcher and sales person.
The internet can quickly become your best friend. However, in a vast sea of over-complicated articles on hundreds of topics, it can be hard to find a comprehensive list of everything you need to accomplish. The source I pulled from above is a great example of the straightforward lists I used to help my business take shape. It is practical and includes many of the technical steps needed to make your business a financial reality. While this source is a great start to getting the technical foundation of your business put together, it is just as important to set up an organizational foundation within your life so you can accomplish everything on this list and more.
You're here because you have a passion or a great idea that you are looking to build into a profitable business. You're also here because you are a few Google searches away from a chronic migraine. Whether it's registration, finances, bank account set-up, business structure, marketing campaigns, business cards, websites and more, there is a lot a business owner has to juggle when getting their business put together. Your first step to maintaining your sanity is to build structure around your small business set-up within life. Below are some tips I have compiled from personal experience and research.
You will always have a million different things to do as a new small business owner. Your first step everyday in your career should be to prioritize what you should be doing as soon as you can and what can be rescheduled for another day. For example, you probably shouldn't be working on your website without a logo and branding idea. You'll end up spending all this time on a website that ultimately won't match your business branding. A good way to start is to try listing all the immediate tasks that come to mind to get your business started and organize all your tasks by which have an immediate deadline and which tasks can wait a little longer.
While this tip may seem very straightforward, it can actually be one of the most difficult practices to instill in your daily life. You will find that your weekly schedule might seem feasible and productive, there will be at least 10 roadblocks or unexpected problems a week. No, this doesn't mean that you are failing at being a business owner, this is just a part of the entrepreneur lifestyle. There is a principle I found during my research that has stuck with me throughout my experience. When you are met with an unexpected obstacle, you can:
A. Tackle head-on
I understand the inherent need to complete everything immediately. It is also a part of my nature, but this can ultimately keep you from completing the more important parts of your business set-up. Is this obstacle something that needs to be done right away because it prevents you from moving forward? Is there a pressing deadline? If this obstacle has these kinds of consequences, then it should probably be done as soon as you can.
B. Reschedule it for a later time
I find that most of the obstacles I am faced with fall within the reschedule category. While most of the time I might want to handle something right away, it can often put me way off my weekly schedule. Planning to handle the obstacle at a certain time can help you finish your tasks for the day and concentrate on handling the obstacle. If the obstacle is not in the immediate category, then handle it another time.
C. Delegate the work to someone else.
Unfortunately as small business owners, this isn't necessarily a possibility for most of us. However, even if you don't have a team of employees ready at hand, there are many ways that you can outsource work to others. Whether it is online management programs, outsourcing to another company or hiring an intern to do the more tedious work, delegating work to others can help you focus on the more important tasks integral to your business.
This mantra has helped IMMENSELY in keeping my head in place while constantly trying to catch up with my own to-do lists.
This is included in the first tip but I am mentioning it again as it's own point. (Yes, lists are that important to me). If your mind is anything like mine, you probably have a million thoughts that flow through everyday (most of them irrelevant to my business). I write everything down, from my tasks for the day, to what I have accomplished, surprise conversations and even new ideas for my business. It's the only way to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks. I recommend having separate lists for different aspects of your business and even your personal life. One can go in the kitchen for groceries, one in the office for business notes or one in your laptop case. You never know when you're suddenly going to remember something you might have missed writing down earlier.
I bought these notepads from Amazon that are now scattered around the house scribbled in notes and lists. They are SUPER affordable - you can get 12 of these for only $6.99. They are also the perfect size for a busy desk or a cluttered kitchen without taking too much space. These are integral to the prioritization process since it can help you keep an eye on your daily priorities while also keeping track of the tasks you completed that may have not originally been a part of the plan.
3. Google Calendar
While I prefer to hand-write my notes for the day, I have most of my organizing and planning done online. Having programs with desktop notifications are the best way for me to keep track of most of the important meetings I have for the week. It also helps you keep a "bird's-eye" view on your monthly schedule to keep you from over-booking yourself and possibly missing an important meeting. This is also one of the most compatible programs for nearly every other online program you might use to keep your life organized. Syncing your Google Calendar notifications on your phone is also a great practice that keeps you from ever getting too distracted.
Since my business is remote, most of my work is done online and it is so much easier to keep everything together and organized through great platforms like Google Calendar.
Yes, using both Google Calendar and planners might seem like overkill. However, it is a great way to help you balance both your personal life and your business life. Do you have any hobbies or passions that you want to dedicate your time to? Do you have a family that you want to set aside weekly time for? Or, do you have personal interests and skills that you want to develop separate from your business?
Having a planner that keeps these personal goals in mind while also giving you space for your daily and weekly business schedule is integral to achieving the elusive work-life balance as an entrepreneur. I ordered this clever fox planner from Amazon and it offers so much more than a place for organizing your work-life.
With places to write about what you're grateful in life to daily rituals you would like to establish, this planner helps you keep in mind what is most important to you. While I have never created a vision board beforehand, it was definitely fun to put together a visual representation of my yearly goals. This planner is also focused on self-improvement with monthly and weekly sections to write down what you would like to improve.
5. Remember to let Yourself Relax
I definitely don't claim to be a small business owner expert. In fact, I am still learning myself every single day. Admittedly this is one of the hardest tips for me to keep in mind. Starting a business is often a slow and grueling process and you won't be getting clients as quickly as you might want to. This doesn't mean that you don't deserve time to yourself to work on your life. Remembering to let yourself relax and pursue other endeavors will allow you to focus even more on your business when you finally get back to it.