Not another one!
Whew…I just made a list of the categories of things we must handle regularly as business owners. Before I started to list them, I was thinking that it would fall into four or five categories. The list grew. I came up with ten areas that entrepreneurs must work on regularly. I’ve listed them here in the order that they came to mind. I think I just figured out why we are so busy!
- Unexpected client issues or requests;
- Manage and answer email;
- Marketing your business, i.e.: promotion;
- Sales, i.e.: speaking to prospects about your services and inviting them to work with you;
- Service delivery or client work;
- Long term projects, i.e.: product development;
- Growing your reach (outside of general marketing) such as networking, reaching out to affiliates/JV partners;
- Professional growth/training;
- Product launches (while this technically falls under both marketing and sales it seems to generate a life of its own), and
- Administrative work, this would include staff management, financial reviews, contract negotiations, etc.
The question rightly asked after looking at this list (and frankly, I’m feeling a bit queasy after seeing it myself) is how the heck do you do it, especially since under each category there are another million little jobs to do?
Here are seven suggestions that I’d like to offer you.
- Before you take on a new project, or get struck by “bright, shiny object syndrome,” ask yourself if there are other things that you are already doing that achieve the same goal. If you are already doing something, decide which ONE way makes the most sense for you.
- Think about all of these categories in general and identify where your strong points are and the areas that you are absolutely the only person who can do it. It would serve you, your clients and your bottom line, best if you hire support for the other areas.
- After your overall review of the categories, look at the specific tasks that fall into each. Decide if you’re the best person to do it. Can you have a team member take care of it? Can you hire an outside consultant? Can you hire a full- or part-time staff member? While a lot of things can be delegated, I don’t believe that there is a single category here that you as a business owner can walk away from entirely.
- Set boundaries. Decide when you are going to work on something and stick to your commitments. For instance, decide when you are going to handle email (I handle it three times over the course of the day) and truly deal with it. Unsubscribe to the things that you don’t read or take advantage of regularly. Also set boundaries for your clients. Let them know what type of turnaround they should expect from you and when they need to get information to you.
- Regularly review these ten categories and identify what you’re doing in each. Then outline your next steps in those tasks.
- Layout your work week and decide when you are going to put focused attention to each category. There are some categories that you will need to do daily (or multiple times a day, like I do with my email) and other things that need to be done regularly but not necessarily every day. At a minimum you will need to put attention to each of these categories once a week.
- Make time for yourself each day. Yes, I know the list is huge and overwhelming and there are times when you simply have to go and get it all done. However, it is important to balance your own personal needs with the needs of your business. Entrepreneurship takes energy and if you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to do any of it.
Just like most things we do, we need to take it one step at a time…what are you going to do today to help you calm the overwhelm in your business? Share it on my blog.