It is Monday morning. The business dilemma this morning is to write a blog post or start working on client work. So, I am up early working on setting up a client’s marketing automation campaign, so I can work on my business later. The client comes first right?
The business dilemma we all face as service-based entrepreneurs is working on our business versus working with our customers business. The business dilemma is pretty straightforward. We need to increase revenue, but we also have to serve the customer. What becomes a priority?
How I Handle It All
Running a business is hard work. There is no doubt about it. Working on your business is important for growth. Here are my tips to handle all the needs of the business, every day.
Get A Great Team in Place
Your team is your business. The better the team you have, the more you can handle and accomplish. I learned this the hard way. I never thought that I would be able to put a dream team in place because it was always so hard to find the additional revenue to pay them. Going from yourself to one teammate means you need to double your revenue to pay them, yourself, and cover overhead.
I built my team creatively. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I then looked for a person that was great at the things I failed at. This was one of the most important lessons about failure, knowing what you are actually good at. I also looked for someone that had the same fire inside that I had, also very important in a business partner. We then build an agreement that would be beneficial for both of us. We got creative and both looked long-term, not short-term.
Get creative, you may not have to increase revenue to bring someone else on. The goal here is to get the best people around you that want to build something amazing.
None of us are as smart as all of us – Steve Boehle
Work from Lists
Every night before I go to bed I sit down, look at my project management system with all the projects I have in the pipeline. This includes both client and business projects. I take the pressing items that need to be done and estimate how long each will take. These tasks take priority and I then figure out how much time I have left for other tasks that are due in the future.
I then place in my outlook calendar the time needed to get everything done and schedule time to do the task. By scheduling my tasks, I am able to focus on a set timeframe and not work on anything other than that specific task. This helps me get better results and dominate the day.
Use a Project Management System
Your daily task list is important. But that is for the short-term tasks or execution. A project management system is going to hold your long-term projects. This is how I create the daily tasks needed to get things done.
For example. Building a website takes time. There are design and copy needs for each page. Your project management system is going to hold all your pages, posts, and whatever else you need to publish your website. Now you can take the individual tasks and place them on your daily list to keep the project moving.
A project management system is going to help you organize your projects and ensure that you are moving everything forward. It will also help you do more because it will help you focus on the important stuff and not let your mind wander.
Automate Routine Tasks
This is important. If there is something that you can automate do it. Invest in the system or piece of software that will save you time and effort.
When I first started my marketing agency, I put off the cost of a CRM and marketing automation. I figured that I could save money and do things manually. This was a huge mistake. In the long run, I ended up spending more time following up with every lead than the couple hundred dollars was worth.
I get it when you are first starting out, automating tasks can be costly and you may not have the budget to get started. But start small. Start with social media with a system like SmarterQueue to save yourself time.
Automating your routine tasks will give you more time to focus on the important things, like engaging on your social media account, creating content to drive your business forward, or handling that client request that came in last minute.
Wake Up Early
They say that waking up early is the key to being successful. Well, I think that you can also stay up late and get the same effect. The key is to work on something when it is quiet, and you can focus. There is no email coming in, the kids are asleep, or whatever is holding you back. You need to find your time to focus.
Personally, I wake up early before the kids get up. This gives me 1-2 hours of complete silence before the day starts. This is where I either catch up on any tasks that did not get accomplished the day before or get a jumpstart on the day. I enjoy the morning, but the night can be your time.
By getting up early I am able to stop working around 4 pm when the kids get home from school and hang out with the family. That is what works for me, you may be a night owl and working at night makes more sense for you. Just find that time outside of the normal business day to keep things going.
Schedule Meetings in Bulk
I am not a fan of meetings. I believe that people in business schedule too many meetings because they are trying to justify their role or look busy. However, I do believe in a 15 – 20 minute daily scrums to keep the team moving forward and on task.
I do think that meetings can have value when scheduled for the right reasons. They can align the team to a bigger goal and help set direction. Meetings are necessary to help set strategy, collaborate, and gain alignment. Once there is a clear vision, use your project management system and scrums to get more done.
All that said to make one point. I schedule my meetings in bulk. If I am going to be out of the office for a meeting, I try to schedule 3-4 more meetings to use my time effectively. This way I can focus on the meetings versus trying to work my tasks. My goal is to have one day per week full of meetings and then have the rest of the week to get things done.
I schedule the time to look at email, there is time at the beginning of the day, at lunch, and before I leave for the day to catch up on email. It takes 15 minutes to get in the rhythm of a task. So, if your email is popping up every 5 minutes with a new offer and you get distracted, it will take you longer to get things done.
Email is important. This is my main form of communication with clients and internal teammates. I just want to be able to focus 100% on the communication versus pushing out some garbage and putting out fires.
Part of my daily tasks includes sending proactive emails to clients and teammate to keep projects moving forward. This helps me focus on the right communication, not reacting to communications.
If you turn your email off and schedule the time to respond, you will get more done. You will also set expectations with your clients and teammates.
Turn Up the Jams
I like to listen to music loud when I am working. It helps drown out the world around me and focus on the task at hand. I also think this has become mandatory because I work at home and have 4 kids. So yes, the music helps keep the noise to a minimum.
Music has many benefits for your productivity. Music will help you focus on the tasks at hand and move things along. So, turn up the jams and get to work.
Most Important – Let the Little Things Go
When I was in corporate America, this was the one thing that drove me crazy. As I started my marketing agency and worked with clients, it had not really changed. For some reason, we are unwilling to let the little things go. This keeps us from moving forward and getting the job done.
I get it, your message needs to be right, your creative needs to pop, and you need to ensure that your features are working before going to market. But the fear of putting something out to the market that is not 100%, hold you back from getting to market and testing.
There are things that you need to just let go, especially when you are working with a team.
For example. I have a client that uses the majority of their retainer on the rework of copy. We have a great copywriter that has worked for CNN, she is a great writer. The content copy comes over and our client reworks the entire thing. This causes a simple email to be delayed for days and places more pressure on the team to execute. Ultimately, they get less marketing and growth because they cannot let the small things go.
Get to 95% and move on. The additional 5% is not going to make or break your business. In fact, you are probably leaving a ton on the table. Gets things done, test, and focus on what is working.
The Business Dilemma Conclusion
Handling both your business needs and the needs of your customers can be hard. In order to make it work you need to focus on your priorities and ensure that you are moving things forward. Your time is valuable to ensure that you are using your time in the best way possible.
I hope these tips can help you focus on the right things, not just put out fires all day. I also hope that by getting a framework in place you will be able to get more done. Once you become a well-oiled machine and start to focus on the important tasks, you will move your business forward.