When you are trying to build a business from the ground up on your own, there will likely come a time when you reach a point where you can no longer do everything on your own. Having been there, I can tell you that it’s really really hard to give up bits and pieces of your business, your “baby”, to put your trust in another person and their ability to do those tasks just as well as you have been doing them.
Skip to 5 Ways I Get More Done if you Don’t want to Read It
Way back in 2011, I finally reached a point where I was burned out and exhausted so I knew it was time to hire help. I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I never had to be in charge of other people in a job before so managing staff was a big step. My first assistant was only here in the evenings which wasn’t ideal but the extra hands helped. From there, I went through a couple other part-time assistants over the next few years.
In the fall of 2014, I finally hired my first full-time assistant. She was honestly too good to be true. By that point, I had a pretty good idea what I wanted in an assistant but she seriously met all those needs and then some. The first couple of months started out slow while she learned the business and got herself settled in but once that happened, she was more like my equal than my assistant. She really grew her position and with her at my side, my business growth truly multiplied.
Of course there were serious downsides to this arrangement and when she left suddenly toward the end of 2016, I had built my business to a point where I had a third, part-time assistant as well. My assistant’s sudden departure left me kind of high-and-dry. It wasn’t pretty, but since I still had help, I was able to get by while I found a replacement. I soon hired another assistant but her experience and background made her more of an entry-level employee, rather than a seasoned manager that could get up to speed and take charge. I know this was not one of my smarter business decisions but it was done.
I knew early on, my new assistant wasn’t going to stick around. She never really showed much initiative. She just didn’t love it and that’s not her fault. She needed a job and she took what she could. Shortly after hiring this new assistant, my part-time assistant left to finish up her last year of college. By that point, things had slowed down so two people were enough.
By last summer, I began realizing my business was headed in the wrong direction. I’d spent too much time getting over the bad break up of my full time assistant that I’d just been doing enough to get by and no longer focusing on the future of my business.
I decided to figure out a way to budget for a business / marketing person and allow my current assistant to take over day-to-day running and logistics of the shop.
After lots of interviews and feeling like I was finally coming out of my fog, I realized I had found someone I wanted to hire only to find out my assistant was leaving. I think this was my final wake-up call that I needed to take a step back, regroup and then figure out what I really needed. Quite honestly it took me very little time to realize that I needed to take some time with the business on my own, without an assistant, without marketing, without anything and figure out what it was that I was actually working toward.
Last year was also the year I started Twig & White and I know in my heart, that if I could build this into a business, I’d walk away from RC pretty easily but a girl has to have a job that pays the bills.
I attended the Conference / Convention in LV which gave me a fresh perspective on my business, I started planning for 2018 and planned equally for this space. When January rolled around, I was feeling very positive, very energized for the first time in years. I signed up for two new classes knowing they’d benefit my business but also here and I’ve worked….hard.
In less than three months, I’m in a very different place and my business has taken new leaps forward. When I look around at all I accomplish, more than ever before, and without an assistant, I realize more than my business has been transformed. I have been transformed both in how I work and how I prioritize and that’s what I want to share with you today.
5 Ways I Get More Done in My Business (even though I no longer have an assistant)
No matter where you are in your business or blog, these five things can help you work more efficiently and get more done is less time. Here we go!
When you can’t identify the tasks, projects, or work that is going to be the most successful to propelling your business forward, then you may be wasting time on tasks that may be fun or easy but maybe not the right ones for maximum return. Prioritizing starts with your goals. You need to define clear, measurable goals so you know what you are trying to achieve and then keep track of the progress you are making toward those goals. Focusing on only the tasks that are propelling your business toward reaching your goals should be part of your daily work.
I mentioned in my backstory how I was just going through the motions for a year. Because I emotionally shut down, I didn’t sent any goals for my business for 2017 so I had nothing to work toward, nothing to track and my business suffered for it.
Cut the Clutter
This goes hand-in-hand with setting goals and prioritizing but it can also be hard to do. When there are things in your business that you love to do or just want to do, you may not see clearly that it may not be the best use of your time.
For me, it’s blogging. I love to write and create content for my business blog. There is so much to write about, I could write every day and for a while I tried. I always beat myself up because I couldn’t maintain a blogging schedule of 5 posts per week and then I took my emotions out of it. I may love blogging but it’s not a financially profitable task; in fact, I haven’t made $1 from the blog so I cut out the waste. I now blog twice a week; once during the week, and once on Saturday so I can still do this task I love but in smaller chunks that takes up way less of my valuable time.
Batch Similar Tasks
I’ve seen a lot of blog articles out there about this topic lately and I chuckle to myself because this is something I started to do naturally when I started getting my act together late last year. When I had new products to photograph, I’d wait till I have five or ten and then I’d identify any products that needed updated photos taken and plan one chunk of time to do it all at once. Then, I’d edit all the photos at one time and then update or set up new listings in groups.
For the blog, I’ll spend one day planning out my editorial calendar. Then when I’m feeling creative, I’ll write several at one time, create graphics for several posts at one time, etc. Online orders will have proofs done in one chunk of time, ordered process in a chunk of time and so on.
I have found that simply by batching like tasks together, I am actually getting more done in one day than I did when I had an assistant. I’m no longer changing directions every time I have to move on because I’m getting a lot of little things done in one block of time and it amazingly all adds up in the end.
Learn to Say “NO”
I am by nature a people pleaser. I hate to let someone down for any reason big or small. I have taken on projects I knew I’d loose money on, I’ve worked with clients I knew I’d despise simply because I didn’t want to disappoint. And do you know what doing that did? It led to horrible client experiences, my being stressed out and bawling or sick to my stomach, late hours working to finish up a rush project and refunding orders that weren’t my fault in the first place.
Now that I’m on my own and don’t have time to deal with those kinds of projects so I’ve learned to say no. To focus only on the projects (especially custom) that are truly the things I love and where I can exceed client expectations. The rest aren’t worth it to me, my business or my sanity. What you say “no” to may look different than me and that’s ok. The key is to know where your priorities are, cut out the rest and say no when something doesn’t fit into your goals.
Owning a business, whether you have a team of employees or you’re on your own, takes a lot of work and energy. It is common, when talking with other business owners, to hear others say how exhausted and burned out they get. I’m the same way and most days by mid-to-late afternoon, I feel myself beginning to slump. While I used to just push myself through it to finish out my day, I now listing to my body and when I start feeling sluggish, I take a break.
Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, I’ll roll around on the floor with the dogs, pop over to the house and do a load of laundry, start prepping for the evenings dinner or go out into the yard to run around with the dogs. It doesn’t matter what that break consists of, getting up and stepping away does wonders for revitalizing my mind and body so that I can come back to my work and finish out my day feeling fresh and at my best.
Some days are more productive than others. I have days where I feel like I didn’t accomplish anything and I still struggle with doing it all but these five things have definitely helped me work smarter, not harder and get much more done than I did when I had an assistant.