When it comes to being a solopreneur, too many emphasize the ‘solo’ part and try to do everything themselves. After all, it’s your business and you want to run it your way. No one will dispute your right to do that, but slow down and grasp this crucial truth: Pride in DIY could be killing your business. If you are trying to do everything in your business yourself, you are likely disorganized and inefficient. And that can be a lethal poison to your success.
According to a 2017 Business Attitudes Study by Staples, disorganization appears to have a direct effect on how much a business will enjoy success.
- 53% of thriving/surviving small business owners describe their workplace as very organized, while only 23% see themselves as disorganized.
- 1 in 3 business owners believe that workplace disorganization leads to less productivity.
- 3 in 4 owners with struggling or failing businesses believe disorganization has affected their company’s productivity.
If this is true of small business owners, likely with more than a single employee, how true must it be for the solopreneur who is trying to accomplish everything?
“Your business should be a machine,” says Joe Pardo from www.SuperJoePardo.com. “Every step of the way should be an optimized process that enables business, not disables it. Disorganization creates chaos and inefficiencies that will add up to be costlier than most will ever realize.”
How can solopreneurs create that smoothly running business machine that will materially contribute to their success? Here are some vital tips to help you become organized and focused on your goals.
Manage External Time Wasters
There will be times when your time is affected by external factors, like unexpected visitors or meetings with clients that necessitate travel or drag on. There are a few ways you can learn how to manage these outside forces. One is by setting a specific time to respond to phone calls and emails. When you’re working, turn your notifications off and use voicemail.
Another is establishing blocks of time when you’re free to meet. When you’re not available, you can keep your door closed, place a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside, or politely ask people to return at a more convenient time.
Focus on finding a time management technique that works for you. Just because one person has had success using a certain technique doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. Don’t be afraid to try out several different ideas until you find the one that helps you manage your time best.
Use a Project Management System
Even as a solopreneur, using some version of a project management system can help you keep every task before you on a single screen. This makes it easier to keep up with tasks from different clients because they are all organized in a single place. Asana,Wrike, and Trello are a few of the most popular project management tools available. They have affordable plans for solopreneurs and are built for teams, so when you’re ready to add another person to your business mix, everyone can use the same system.
Define a Process That Works for You
Some solopreneurs claim that being disorganized is a pre-requisite for getting yourself and your business organized and on track. Within your current controlled chaos is a system that works; at least it has worked up until this point. Now you’re likely so busy that you feel overwhelmed. Relax a bit and review how you have completed tasks successfully up until this point.
Next, refine your system and define a process, then set up systems to support it. You may find value in engaging other solopreneurs to discover how their system works and if it is adaptable to your own situation. Where most business owners can engage their teams, employees, and associates in the process, solopreneurs must set a structure that works themselves. Find one that is right for you and use it.
Adopt a Common Filing System
If you must shift between different locations and sources for your business files, you are losing hours of productivity. Along with a project management system, you need a common filing system where all your company-related material is stored and readily accessible. There is nothing wrong with storing your important files locally, but in this day and age, storing your documents in the cloud equals security and accessibility.
By filing your work in the cloud, no matter where you are, what time it is or what you’re working on, you have access to everything from your favorite device. This is especially beneficial for solopreneurs who may choose to work from different locations. And, when you are ready to add a team member or two, collaborating in the cloud, like with Google Docs, is a snap.
Solopreneurs Must Learn to Delegate
As a solopreneur, sooner or later, your growing business will demand that you add a team member or two. In fact, it is said that the art of delegation may be the difference between solopreneurs who flounder and solopreneurs who succeed. The BBC reports that “delegating gets harder to do the higher someone goes up the corporate ladder.” For the solopreneur who has constantly been in DIY mode, delegation can be even more difficult.
Here are some of the things that solopreneurs should delegate in order to free up time to be more productive:
- Anything you don’t enjoy doing
- Anything you don’t do well
- Anything that will help to increase cash flow
- Anything that is getting in the way of growing your business
- Anything that is process-oriented (easy to do) but time consuming
- Anything you want a team member or aspiring leader to learn to do
In fact, if you delegate most of the things that fit the above categories, you may discover you’re left with very little to do. Does this mean you have delegated too much? No indeed. Instead, you’ve unlocked the secret of master entrepreneurship. You’ve freed yourself of administrative minutiae and can take your business to extraordinary new heights.
What are the organizational strategies that have contributed to your success? Share them with our readers in the comments below.