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woman_phone_computerRunning Your Business Solo!

Getting Clear On Your Business Priorities

by Trina Newby

Let's face it, many businesswomen live a multi-tasking life and being able to juggle things at a moment's notice has its advantages and disadvantages.  Let's take running a business for example:  If you're a solo-entrepreneur one disadvantage is that you have to manage and complete lots of tasks if you don't have the budget to contract others to help you and for most businesswomen this is the case. 

Day-to-day tasks can include handling correspondence, making prospect calls, marketing the business, bookkeeping, closing the sales and oh yes, providing the service or processing the product order.  What's a businesswoman to do when handling all of this?  Well the answer is not an easy one, but an advantage point is being clear on your business priorities.

When you operate your business solo there are many things that you might feel are important, but you will have to prioritize them to ensure that you are addressing the most important things.   One way to look at it is to consider your business to be a child that you are raising to be a responsible adult one day.  In order to do that you must nurture and do what's in the best interest of the child. For a businesswoman, it means your business priorities should include:

  • Planning your daily work flow
  • Sticking to a strict work schedule
  • Strategically planning how you will market
  • Keeping all expenses to a minimum
  • Working on documents and materials needed at least 2-3 months ahead of time
  • Staying connected to your current client/customers
  • Managing your finances and bookkeeping
  • In order to implement the above practices, it's important to know that you will need to develop a system that you will commit and hold yourself accountable to. You will also need energy and sharp focus, so this means that you must include getting the proper exercise and sleep in your life routine.

Below are 10 suggestions to consider when building your business management system:

1. Have a clear picture of your personal and business vision
Your business is simply a conduit or means to help you accomplish and financially support your personal vision.  It is important to keep this fact in your mind at all times.  Like seeing a beautiful vacation spot in a glossy color magazine, you must also be able to see your vision just as clear.

Note: Write your personal and business vision based on what you want to experience at some point in time.  If you're new to writing your vision, building your vision for the next six months to 1 year is a good start.  Once you know what you want to experience then you are ready to identify the goals and tasks that can help you accomplish your vision.  Keep in mind that your business vision supports your personal vision, so the two should not conflict, but blend.

2. Eliminate habits that are preventing you from accomplishing your business vision
Many women feel that their vision is not being accomplished because of obstacles or habits in their way.  Identify and eliminate habits that you might have that are preventing you from accomplishing your goals.  It could be something as simple as cutting out television or temporarily suspending certain activities.  Only you know what habits you need to eliminate, so take the time to identify them and start taking action to rid yourself of them. It's not always as easy as it sounds to get rid of a habit, but with persistence and determination to see your vision accomplished you can make it happen!

3. Identify your business goals each year to support your vision
It is best to plan on an annual basis, because it gives you more leverage and allows you to properly plan on a quarterly basis.  Knowing what your life and business visions are makes it easy to identify the goals that you need to set to support them.

4. Set milestones (deadlines) to accomplish goals
Once you have identified and set your goals you should hold yourself accountable by setting milestones (deadlines).  To do this simply purchase a planner that includes a monthly view with blocks to write in along with your daily schedule or use the monthly view in your calendar software.  Mark the dates that you would like to see your goals accomplished by.   Those dates become your milestone markers.  Next, identify and find solutions for any challenges that might prevent you from meeting your milestone.

5. Identify and plot tasks to support your milestones
Tasks are the arrows that hit the target goal - without them nothing gets done.  Once you have set your milestones, it will be important to identify any tasks that are needed to accomplish the goal.  Plot your tasks in your daily calendar giving yourself double-time to accomplish them.

Note: If you seem to be procrastinating in accomplishing tasks, ask yourself why.  Perhaps you need a resource or need help in executing the tasks.  The important thing is don't allow yourself to let a tasks go uncompleted.

6. Develop a quarterly schedule to support completing your tasks
Now that you have plotted your goals and tasks you should be able to have a quarterly view of items that need to be completed and resulting in your goals being accomplished.

Note: It is best to stay a quarter ahead in planning.  This will help you to better focus and manage your schedule in a more relaxed manner.

7. Create a daily work flow schedule
Whether you run your business full-time or part-time you must develop a consistent workflow.  Your workflow will depend on how you service your clients or process customer orders.  For example, you might see clients 3 days a week and leave 2 days for marketing and administrative work.  Another example would be to make and process product orders 4 days per week, attend networking events on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and leave one full day for administrative work.  If you have small or school age children their schedule will definitely impact yours; therefore, careful planning is needed.

8. Develop a follow-up system to prevent items from slipping through the cracks

Make it a habit to review your time management planner daily.  For items that need to be followed up on at another time, go ahead and schedule that on the appropriate date.  Simply saying, "I need to follow up on that" will not make it happen.

9. Use virtual assistant or administrative services whenever possible

Being a solo entrepreneur doesn't mean doing it all alone.  If your budget permits it, contract a part-time assistant to help you with administrative work.  If you don't have time to design a brochure, consider contracting a graphic designer or college student.  If you seem to be constantly procrastinating with doing your bookkeeping - you need a bookkeeper!

10. Reward yourself weekly
Managing your business is hard work!  Reward yourself at the end of each week with something you really like to do.  This will help you to get excited during the week to get your business work completed.  If you didn't complete it, you shouldn't get the reward.

Running your business solo can be both challenging and stressful at times, but you can also feel empowered and in control by knowing that you are contributing to your vision and seeing results.  Being clear on your business priorities will help you to be clear on your business goals and run your business in a more efficient manner.  Implement some of the suggestions above and see the difference!