I have to admit it, today I’ve been working all day long. For around 10 hours or so, I’ve been perched like a parakeet in front of my computer screen but I am getting things done on an EPIC SCALE!
While it’s probably not so great for the eyes, it’s absolutely fabulous for business.
Every Monday plays out pretty much the same in my business: Francesca (my business partner) and I spend time online, engaging with teachers taking our online course from all over the world. Then, we finish up a few administrative tasks from our to-do lists and end our work day with some emails.
Now I know what you’re thinking: this is NOT what you have in mind when you think about starting and running your own business! Who would actually WANT to spend 10 hours working on a computer all day?? Well hang on for just a minute or two…what if I told you that this is actually part of our preplanned, proven and power-packed business strategy? You heard that right. Working 10 hours straight on Monday allows us to be more productive so that we can have extra time off and and have less work on other days.
Through our years of working together, we’ve realised that we always look forward to the weekend but we also love taking the last day of the week off. And sometimes, we even enjoy a half-day on Tuesdays too. This is the beauty of being an entrepreneur-you have the freedom to make your own rules and fix your own schedules. You can design your life to work around YOU and what suits your lifestyle best. Maybe you like to work on your business late at night after your kids are asleep, or maybe you’re an early bird who packs in 2 hours each day before anyone else is up. If this works for you and helps you get things done, then stick to it. Starting out as an entrepreneur means you’re going to have to experiment with the best way of working and the most effective ways of getting your business out into the world so don’t worry if you haven’t got it all figured out right away. Having been my own boss for the last 9 years, I’ve picked up several high-priorities and business strategies that have proved to be life-savers. I’m going to give you my top 4 tips to help you be more productive (and less overwhelmed) in your business but I also want to focus you on how to prioritize activities that will bring in sales. We can all do with more sales, especially if you’re a new entrepreneur! Here goes:
#1: GET A NON-NEGOTIABLE ROUTINE
In order for us to have such a flexible schedule, we need a routine. Sounds a bit like an oxymoron right? Giving ourselves flexible days means that the work we do on the other days needs to be planned and somewhat non-negotiable. For example, every Sunday is our “planning” day where we meet at a cozy cafe and plan the week’s tasks. We decide on our priorities and then make sure we’ve completed everything from the previous week. We also spend time scheduling meetings for later on in the week and send important emails. Sundays are a day to set ourselves up for success so that we run our week without it running us. We almost never book any other tasks or meetings on this day. Having a non-negotiable routine frees-up mental space and energy. It allows you to be more efficient and focused. Remember Steve Jobs’ wardrobe? He claimed that wearing the same outfit allowed him to be more efficient because he never had to think about what he would wear each day. He realised that he could automate this component of his life and by doing so, he managed to free up additional mental space. By setting aside fixed blocks of time for you to work on your business, you are setting yourself up for success. It’ll soon be a habit and you’ll come to appreciate the time that you spend strategising and planning your work. You might also be surprised when you see just how much you can get done. Another benefit of having a non-negotiable routine is that your family and friends get used to the fact that you’re not able to be with them on this day/time and it starts to become routine for them too.
#2: BATCH YOUR TASKS
“Batching” tasks simply means that you tackle similar kinds of tasks you have in one specific block of time. This way, you’re more likely to be productive. For example, in our business, we have to do a lot of writing and content-creation (e.g. pre-recorded videos, articles, etc.) so we try and batch all of this on one day every two weeks. This way, we’ve really got the mindset and mental preparation to deal with these things and it helps us get much more done than if we were to do a little bit every day. Imagine making calls, meeting potential customers, writing blog posts and doing your social media all in one day! When you try and do so many different things in one day, you actually get fatigued really quickly. Batching can help you prepare your mindset and get uber-prepared for your tasks so that you’ll get things done more efficiently and with less downtime between tasks. It’s one more way for you to make better use of your time and conserve your mental space.
#3: BUILD “BUZZ”
Remember that one of the most important things you can do for your business, especially if you’re just starting out, is to spread the word about your company. You want to build awareness of your brand, your products and services and you want to let people know exactly what you do so that they can come to you or refer you to someone who might need what you’re offering. Essentially, you want to consistently create “buzz” or interest and excitement in your products/services. This will keep people talking and can really help spread your message. One of the easiest ways you can build buzz is to attend events where you can network, connect and talk about what you do. You might like to join specific networking events for businesses but you should also consider getting out to events related to your industry where it’s really natural and fitting for you to share your products/services and expertise. If you’re an online business, you can build buzz by writing blog posts and then sharing the articles through a Facebook ad for example. Or maybe you can make a short, captivating video and share it on Instagram. You might also do a TV or radio interview, etc. Building buzz means that you make impact with your marketing and you make deliberate efforts to get people learning and excited about your business. There are so many ways to build buzz these days, especially with all the technological tools available to everyone.
You should always plan one buzz-building activity per week in order to keep up the excitement and educate people about your products and services. Remember though, you need to think about who your ideal clients are and how you can best reach/excite them. If you’re a dance teacher, you might get a few of your students to take part in a difficult dance routine and film a clip, sharing it on your social media channels, for example. In our business, we often arrange webinars (online trainings) for our teachers all over the world. We share information about the event on a sign-up page on our website and then we spread the link through social media and our email list. Then fairly quickly, other people start to share it with their friends and colleagues. Afterwards, we have a lot of potential customers talking about what they’ve learned and this makes it easier for us to then send them our offers. Building buzz not only let’s you spread awareness of your business but it also helps you ‘warm up’ potential leads so that they’ll be more likely or more open to buying from you.
#4: GENERATE NEW BUSINESS
Just as you should always carry out one buzz-building activity in your business per week, you should also have one plan to generate new business. I say one because this is achievable and can keep you focused without making your feel overwhelmed. There’s always a tendency for business owners to get distracted and to put focus on things that don’t help you generate any sales. For example, spending too much time perfecting a website that’s already good will take away from potential sales-generating activities that you should be doing. Remember you want to have a business, not a hobby, so it’s essential that you dedicate your time to your business-generating strategy each week. That could be crafting a special promotion, meeting someone who is going to share your offers to their members (either through their email list or maybe through Instagram, etc.) or participating in an event to sell your products. You need to think about the best ways to sell based on your ideal clients and also around specific holidays/themes or time of year, for example. When you have your own business, there are always a million things you could be doing but you need to ask yourself, “Will this get me any sales?” and go from there. Maybe the task is important but it might not be a top priority right away.
This week, I want you to think about how you can take action and implement some of these strategies in your business. Use this quick checklist to start getting results:
- Do you have a non-negotiable routine with blocks of time dedicated to your business? If not, look at your weekly schedule and see where you can slot in time. Also consider rearranging your schedule or getting rid of some of your responsibilities (e.g. have a friend drop your kids off to school on a specific day, reduce some of your parent volunteer activities, etc.).
- What similar tasks can you batch in order to be more productive? Maybe you can design all of your Facebook quotes and Instagram photos in one block of time or maybe you can arrange all your business meetings on one day and at the same location?
- What’s ONE THING you can do this week to build buzz in your business? Will you attend a networking event or social activity where you can talk about your business, products/services? Will you do a community talk? Can you share a gorgeous video that people will forward to their friends and family?
- What’s ONE THING you can do this week that will lead you to more sales? Will you create a special offer or promotion to send out to your audience? Will you reach out to potential customers you forgot to follow-up with?
Someone once said that success is a series of small actions over time so try to focus on consistency and high-impact efforts. I promise you that if you can keep yourself from getting overwhelmed so that you’re working smarter and with more enthusiasm, you’ll start to get good results and feel great about your business.
I’d love to hear how you get on!