Simplify Your Business: 12 Secrets to Entrepreneurial Freedom
By Stephanie Chandler
Finding balance between work and the rest of your life is not always easy, but it is essential. Your business cannot truly thrive if you are the center of everything, and your family cannot thrive if the majority of your attention is spent on your business.
Many entrepreneurs say they own a business because they want freedom and flexibility, yet when it comes down to it, these benefits are few and far between. Without systems and processes in place, the owner ends up like an over-worked dog trying to swim against a current. It becomes nearly impossible to get ahead.
You can make the choice to change the entire course of your business. By making a few important changes, you can remove the handcuffs that are keeping you chained to your business and rediscover the benefits of entrepreneurial life.
1. Step Away from the Electronics
Itâ€™s easy to feel like the world might end if you couldnâ€™t check e-mail for several hours or if you turned your phone off (gasp) all afternoon. But if you can break the electronics habit slowly, you will discover that the world continues to turn. Clients will still be there, problems will not put you out of business and sometimes, problems might even get resolved before you even knew they existed. Most importantly, you will gain back your most valuable commodity: time.
2. Schedule Your Time
Jumping between various tasks throughout the day makes it difficult to focus and sabotages time management. Create blocks of time in your schedule with specific days and times for meeting with clients, working on your business, taking care of paperwork, updating your blog, etc. For example, you might catch up on paperwork on Mondays, attend client meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, work on business development on Wednesday afternoons and make cold calls on Friday mornings.
3. Get Organized
A tremendous amount of productivity is lost due to disorganization. If you no longer know what the top of your desk looks like, itâ€™s time to put some systems in place. If you need help getting there, hire a professional organizer. This service will pay for itself in multiple.
4. Create Templates
Anything you do repeatedly, such as developing proposals for new clients or sending sales letters, should be done with templates. Create an outline that you can update and reuse over and over again.
5. Develop Process Manuals
You can dramatically reduce training time and ongoing support needs of your staff by providing a procedures manual. Set the expectation with employees that they must check the manual before calling you.
6. Create a Price List
Too many service providers arbitrarily set prices. If you are guilty as charged, your business will benefit from a price list. The key is to be consistent, give some serious thought and analysis to your pricing structure and then stick to your prices. You donâ€™t have to publish your price list unless you want to, but use it as an internal document.
7. Set up E-mail Filters
When I began creating filters for e-mail, my productivity shot up. You can set up filters to route non-urgent messages to various folders such as â€œSocial Networking Requests,â€� â€œDiscounts,â€� and â€œSave for Later.â€� Schedule a block of time on your calendar to deal with these messages once each week.
8. Manage Bill Payments
Put your bills on auto-pay and minimize the amount of time and energy wasted on this task each month. If youâ€™re not comfortable with that, at least take advantage of online bill pay with your bank. This is a simple, effective way to quickly get the bills off of your desk.
9. Collect Payments Online
If you invoice your clients for payment, consider sending electronic statements. Most credit card processors (including Paypal) allow you to send electronic invoices. Theyâ€™re quick and easy and as a bonus, can speed up the time it takes to collect payments. Many clients find it convenient to simply pay with a credit card or check online in order to move the item out of their Inbox.
10. Hire a Bookkeeper
If youâ€™re doing your own books or worse, you are operating on the â€œshoeboxâ€� method of accounting, you are not taking your business seriously. This is why bookkeepers and accountants exist. For a reasonable fee, you can have a professional take care of the details while you focus on what you do best. You donâ€™t have to hand over your checkbook, just your receipts.
11. Get a Filing Basket
Since filing is about as much fun as scrubbing a toilet, many busy business owners let this task slide. If this sounds like you, simply put a basket near your desk and toss in all receipts, paid bills, notes, etc. that need to be filed. Though the magic filing fairy doesnâ€™t exist and wonâ€™t swoop in to help, it will help clear up your space. You can tackle the basket once each month and it wonâ€™t be nearly as painful as you imagined.
12. Get Help
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is trying to do it all. Unless you have superhuman powers, there comes a point when you must admit that it is impossible to do everything for everyone every day. Decide at what point it makes sense to hire help. If you canâ€™t afford an employee, consider hiring a virtual office assistant â€“ someone who performs administrative tasks from their own home. You can also find subcontractors for all kinds of work through Craigslist.org, elance.com or rentacoder.com.
About the Author:
Stephanie Chandler is the author of several business and marketing books, workbooks and e-books including FROM ENTREPRENEUR TO INFOPRENEUR: MAKE MONEY WITH BOOKS, E-BOOKS AND INFORMATION PRODUCTS. She is the founder of http://BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs and http://ProPublishingServices.com, a custom writing business specializing in electronic newsletters.
*This article can be reprinted provided the author bio is included.