Solo Business Owner? 4 Easy Ways to Eliminate Stress and Be More Efficient
When you’re a solopreneur or business owner, you wear many hats. Tasks and work can pile up, and your efforts to manage it all can end up adding to the stress and lowering your productivity. Ditch the scads of “helpful” apps. Instead, lighten your load by getting others (virtual or otherwise) to do the work for you. Here are our 4 ways to increase your efficiency so you can spend your time on what counts the most.
Being a “one-person-show” doesn’t mean you can’t fulfill all the tasks you want done, but you shouldn’t try to do it all alone. By outsourcing the parts of the job that usually require an in-house team, you can save on business costs and create the freedom to work on what matters to you as the owner. There are typically five functions you’ll need to fill:
- Marketing and promotions. Outsourcing your communications tasks to a PR firm or a solo pro gets you the help of experts in the field without having to pay a pro to work full time, in-house. With the industry knowledge and media contacts you need to get your business noticed by the right people, PR is worth the investment.
- Web management. Your online presence is the first impression people have of your business, and if it’s not up to the level of your competitors you’ll end up turning prospects away. Unless you’re a tech wizard, don’t try to create and maintain your site, e-store, or even social presences alone. Get a referral from another business owner you know who has a successful online presence.
- Consulting. A business consultant who has specialized expertise in your field can help you identify problems, solve them, and determine processes to maximize your productivity. Other types of consultants who are experts in certain fields you deal with regularly but aren’t necessarily well-versed (in logistics, for example), can also save you time and costly mistakes.
- Warehousing. If you deal with physical products, holding inventory and fulfilling orders requires a facility and a staff. For a monthly fee, distribution facilities will hold and ship products for you, so you only have to worry about sourcing products.
- Accounting and / or bookkeeping. The tasks of keeping your day-to-day finances on track, and piecing it all together (for budget preparation, tax requirements and annual tax filing), are important parts of running a business. Hire an expert from an accounting firm to help you out.
Get a virtual assistant
Virtual assistants are contract or freelance workers who do their work remotely and focus on administrative tasks that are similar to those of an executive assistant or secretary. Websites that specialize in contract workers (like Guru and elance.com) are marketplaces for assistants and workers, complete with reviews.
You can use a VA for everything from making customer service calls to sending out thank you cards to prospective clients to writing blog posts. It’s important to build trust, just as you would with a permanent employee. Your VA is like a team member, working remotely.
Automate your Money
We spend a lot of time thinking about money and trying to get answers. Should you be saving more? How much should you be saving, really? What about investing? Paying off debt? Did you send in that phone bill on time? Faced with an overwhelming number of choices, it’s easy to just do nothing.
Instead, lessen the overwhelm by making your money a set-it-and-forget-it effort. Have a look at Ramit Sethi’s 12-minute guide to automating your finances via (Tim Ferris blog), which shows you a run-down of what you should “set” to happen on each week of the month. Paying fixed costs, transferring funds to savings and investments accounts, paying yourself, etc. This automated infrastructure allows you to spend less than an hour per week monitoring your money. So you can focus on everything else that matters.
DYK, it takes an average of about 25 minutes (23 minutes and 15 seconds) to return to the original task after an interruption? Distractions don’t just take up time when you’re focusing on other tasks, but they derail your train of thought. That takes times to get back.
Some of the ways the most productive people eliminate distractions — in addition to checking e-mail on a schedule, (you can set up an autoresponder to let senders know when you’ll be checking e-mail again), take advantage of features that prioritize messages by sender. Set alerts for your most important vendors and best customers. Turn off smartphone notifications.
Notice the digital clutter that grabs your attention (multiple tabs, Outlook notifications), and if they don’t help you, eliminate them. If you’re a blogger or active social media enthusiast, your laser-focus is key. Download the Freedom app when you really need to focus, or write with WordPress set to distraction-free writing.