Getting organized can free you from some, if not most, of the entrepreneurial pains and equip you to function successfully in your field.
1. Be Teachable.
Put pride (and arrogance) aside and allow humility to drive for a bit. Sure, you need confidence and a can-do spirit, but these grow exponentially when paired with a readiness to be taught.
Evaluate your schedule and carve out at least 60 minutes a day (and more if you can) where you approach life as the student. The beauty that comes from a teachable spirit is that others who have traveled the path before you will take you under their wing and help you to AVOID some of the common mistakes that result from striking out on your own. Facebook groups like Groove Learning are a powerful tool for bouncing ideas and receiving quick, corrective feedback. Each mistake you avoid is a headache and HOURS saved!
2. Make Time to Work ON Your Business.
Most entrepreneurs are great at working IN their business – handling leads, creating products, and generating sales. But this can only go on so long before you run into a very big problem. All that fun, “in” the business stuff doesn’t leave much room for maintenance of your company.
If you want to KEEP doing what you love, you’ll have to take some time to do the things that aren’t as enjoyable. Be intentional as you develop your business’ scaffolding (procedures and practices). Continue to revise and improve so that your infrastructure grows with your demand instead of lagging behind.
This means scheduling 10-25% of your “work” time solely “on” the business rather than “in” the business. If you’re dedicating just 10 hours a week to your start-up company, then plan to set aside 1-2.5 hours where you’re refining the backend so that it will be able to support you when the floods of orders come.
3. Create Manageable Filing Systems.
No matter what kind of business you’re pursuing, you’ll have a litany of electronic and/or paper documents to manage. These will appear in 3 categories: Creation, Continuance, and Client. (You don't have to call them that --- I just thought a little alliteration would be fun!)
Your creation documents will be those one-time and annually updated documents that keep your business in good standing with local, state, and federal governments. These include your tax ID, LLC (and all other designations), legal paperwork, and business licenses. These Creation documents are the vital documents of your business. Store these in a separate folder so that you know where to find them, but they’re not getting mixed in with the day-to-day matters.
Continuance documents keep your company up and running. These are regularly updated and refined as you work ON your business and may include agreements with other vendors, forms created to work with leads and products, as well as policy, procedure, and training manuals. Think of this as the oil that keeps your machine running smoothly.
Client documents are interactions with leads and clients that are occurring real-time. There are customer relationship management (CRM) systems available online like Salesforce, Insightly, and Highrise in addition to the good old-fashion Rolodex. These pieces of information are always on the move and ever changing. They need to be readily accessible and preferably ordered in a standard form so that anyone on your start-up team can track them down.
Don’t get stuck with piles of papers. Piles create confusion, frustration, and a total waste of time. Wise entrepreneurs know that they must have a clear filing system from the get-go. Learn more about tackling your papers, and different ways to organize them in this one-week series.
4. Keep Track of Your Tasks.
Nine to five jobs typically offer an auto-pilot scenario. You show up, you work, you go home. There might be some hiccups and surprises, but for the most part, you know what to expect. Entrepreneurship is nothing like that….at least not in the beginning.
Every day is like a new race into uncharted territory. You’re working as fast as you can to create as much as you can to service as many people as you can without a firm blueprint to success. Don’t get lost along the way. Plan ahead.
At the end of each day (which, sadly, isn’t going to be 5pm), create a list of the things that you need to do the following day (or moment when you get a chance to work on your new business). Post-it notes are great for this because they can easily be rearranged to create priority and then removed once the task is complete. Lists are great for some people, but beware of the never-ending list that bogs you down and leads to avoidance rather than freedom.
5. Set Weekly, Monthly, and Annual Goals.
Reach for the stars with those annual goals and use your monthly and weekly goals to break those end desires into achievable stepping stones. If you want to make six-figures within the next 365 days, find out what it will take weekly and monthly to get there. Check out this handy calculator if you need some help!
Go one step further and create categories of goals so that you’re improving all-around instead of in just one direction. Education (time to be taught), maintenance (working ON your business), tracking (document organization and client interaction), and growth goals (financial and team-building) are just a few ideas. Your goals will enable you to stay on track and see the bigger picture.
It’s easy for entrepreneurs to get caught in the weeds. Getting your time, systems, and tasks in order can alleviate the microfocus that suffocates and slowly kills start-ups. Keep your energy and attitude high by developing these 5 healthy habits! Good luck and keep me posted about how these tips have helped your business!