If you’re anything like me, you started your own business because you love creative problem-solving, working with clients you love, and being the captain of your own destiny. Am I right?
And then, there’s the reality of being a business owner. 🤔
That moment when you realize that running a business requires SO many small, repeatable, boring tasks that need to be done for the whole operation to run smoothly. From sales + marketing and managing your projects, to finance + admin, there are LOTS of tasks that need to be done. All of which can take a creative business owner away from doing the work they love (and are good at) and keeping them firmly in the miserable zone of busy-work.
If you’ve ever felt:
- Overwhelmed by all the tiny details that need attention but are NOT your zone of genius
- You’re letting balls drop all the time
- You’re spread so thin you don’t have time to focus on getting and serving new clients
- You’re spending way too much time doing things you hate
You’re not alone. But there’s good news! You CAN build a small but mighty business that runs like a dream without having to hire an army full of people to help.
Read on for 3 ways to transform your small business into well-oiled machine.
Step 1: List ALL the things that need to get done in your business
If you’ve ever done a budget and spent a week writing down everything you spend money on, you’ll know how many purchases you make that you don’t even think about or remember – it adds up! Your business is no different. There are a million small things that need to happen, and if we’re not careful, we find ourselves drowning in the minutia and putting out fires instead of doing the work that counts. The first step to getting out from underneath that pile of doom is to get a clear picture of what it consists of.
Action step: Divide a piece of paper into 5 columns and under “daily”, “weekly”, “monthly”, “quarterly”, and “yearly” write down ALL the tasks that need to happen in your business.
Bonus: This first step not only gives you a clear picture of what needs to happen but it also is a great catalyst to using your time more effectively. For example, if you find you’re sending invoices or following up on late payments whenever there’s a need, you could make the decision to make Friday your finance and admin day and do it all then. This cuts down on multi-tasking, freeing up Monday-Thursday for you to focus on getting and serving new clients.
Step 2: Define your role within your business
Ever felt you’re the chief executive, creative, and bottle washer? Yep, as small business owners we often wear a lot of hats. And that’s OK. What’s not OK is not knowing you’re wearing lots of hats and staying in the place of doing everything yourself. Forever and ever. The first step to outsourcing work is understanding the five key roles in every business.
- Value Creation: Figuring out what people need
- Value Delivery: Making and delivering what people need
- Marketing: Getting your service or product in front of people who don’t know you exist yet
- Sales: Moving a person from prospect to client
- Finance: Making sure the money works out
Now, I love a visual (and think you might too!), so here’s what those roles might look like in a design business.
To do: Remember all those tasks? Start assigning them to a role. You can literally re-create the image above on a big piece of paper and write the text next to each bubble. Now, identify what roles YOU WANT TO KEEP in your business. These should be things you’re good at, enjoy, and serve you and the business. Go by what your gut tells you, not common wisdom. For example, common business advice might recommend a business outsource marketing and sales as soon as possible. But in my business, I decided I want to keep those roles because (a) I’m good at and enjoy them (b) it serves the growth of my business, as well as the well-being of my clients to do so.
Step 3: Identify what roles need to be outsourced
Now that you’ve got all your tasks assigned to a role, see what tasks might be bundled together and taken over by a person, a piece of technology or a process/system in your business. Let me give you an example. In the early days of my business, I found myself bogged down with marketing. I loved writing the content (value creation), but the distribution of it – posting it to my newsletter, blog, social media platforms, etc. (value delivery) was taking tons of time and taking me away from the work I needed to do. Between a person (my virtual assistant), technology (the software and platforms we use to deliver the content), and process/system (a standard operating procedure for how it’s done every single time), I’ve gotten HOURS back per week to focus on what I do well – value creation and delivery.
Do you have a process or system that helps you run a better business? Or maybe, you’ve resisted developing processes and systems in your creative business because you don’t know where to start. I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or click here if you’d like to chat.