Small business advice is available in spades, but I thought I’d add my 2 cents worth to the mix after my first foray into business in 2000 (I think it was) with a brick and mortar gift shop business, to local festivals, events, and markets and my first experience into e-commerce. I have even co-run a few local handmade markets during that time too.
The business bug certainly stuck as I then continued until this day. Some businesses were side hustles, and then a short break was had here and there during kids and then into part-time as the kids grew older and as they started school it was to full time nearly 2 years ago. So, I’ve learned a thing or two (I hope).
Easy to implement
One thing I’ve learned is to try and keep things simple and easy to implement. Difficult things can’t be avoided, unfortunately, but when they arise, break them down.
I try to be a big follower of KISS:
- Stupid (no offense meant)
I find the more I simplify things, the less I procrastinate, and the more I conquer and stay motivated.
Learn from my mistakes
It’s life, and I’m human, so mistakes are going to happen.
The most important thing is to learn from your mistakes.
- when it happens, stop and take stock of what’s happened and why.
- what can you do to rectify the situation?
- what can you do differently, so it doesn’t happen again
Allow yourself a quick wallow or poor me moment. I find vodka (after hours, of course) and chocolate great options for this. 😉
But pick yourself back up and move on. Which is easier said than done, but the more you do, the easier it becomes.
Small business start-up problems
Probably the main start-up problem for small businesses is finances.
So, lay your foundations right. Set up a budget and be realistic.
And the most important aspect and the biggest game changer for me was PAYING MYSELF FIRST.
It’s along the same lines as Profit First, but I don’t think I technically follow it to the letter.
But it’s about allocating money to pay yourself first, then separate money into:
I allocate my tax and GST to a separate bank account too. My system is very similar to The Barefoot Investor if you follow him.
In my earlier businesses, I always paid myself last, and whatever was leftover. It was really just an afterthought. How wrong was that mindset! And it’s amazing once it became a priority the change that is made to our bank account. 😆
How to overcome small business overwhelm
Another aspect I found overwhelming when first starting and growing my business was setting boundaries with customers and clients.
In this technology heavy world, we live and where we can do so much on our mobile phones. Which we’re usually not very far away from either. It can be expected that we’re always “on” 24/7, which gets exhausting in my opinion and not very sustainable.
The best thing I did was set boundaries. But not only do you need to set them, but you need to enforce them too. Some effective ways I find to do this is:
- not check my email after hours or on weekends. If I don’t know it’s there, I don’t think about it or feel inclined to respond
- turn my phone on do not disturb – that way, I don’t get notifications going off, but family and friends can still get through on the phone or text
- out of office email. When I go away for a long weekend, have a day off, or part-day, I turn on my out of office. That way, my clients know what to expect and how to get in touch if it’s an emergency
Urgent jobs – are they really urgent?
Are you finding urgent jobs coming up from clients regularly and pose a problem to your workflow? Having to rearrange your schedule to accommodate can become disruptive and frustrating. And it means to keep things on track with other projects that you have to work extra hours, whether that be in the evenings or weekends.
If this is something that occurs in your business, have you thought about adding a rush fee? If it’s not very frequent, you might be happy to accommodate, but if it becomes common practise. Then a rush fee can be enough to make clients think, is this really that urgent. Or even better, change their processes/or get organised, which will deter those last minute rush jobs.
Set your business hours
Set your business hours and stick to them! Something I still struggle with, but now my kids are older and all at school full time, it gets easier on the one hand. But if you’re working school hours, geez, those hours between 9am, and 3pm fly by.
But schedule your projects accordingly given the hours you have to work, and don’t forget to allow for non-billable time too:
- meeting – although some of these might be billable
- discovery calls
And think in advance and plan for the school holidays. And develop a plan for when the kids get sick:
- can family or friends help with other aspects of life to give you some extra work hours
- can you take it in turns with your partner, so you both get some work done, whether it be half days or alternating days
One of my kids nearly without fail gets sick the week before the end of term finishes. So I’ve started scheduling in a lighter workload then. Which also gives me time to catch up to allow for some scheduled time off over the holiday period.
And if you’re kids are at school, don’t forget to schedule in all those school activities:
- athletic and swimming carnivals
- cross country
- special assemblies
- parent help if you wish to
- book week parade
And why not add some white noise blocks into your schedule, too, to give you room to breathe.
Need free business advice?
Check with your local business enterprise centres as they have great resources and offer one-on-one advisory services no matter your industry.
In Tasmania, there is also the Digital Ready Program, but I’m not sure if this is available in other states too. I was actually a participant in the original pilot program when Digital Ready was launched.
Or, if you want to get specific regarding any aspect of digital marketing, then let’s chat about my Consultation sessions. Where you can pick my brain, or we can delve into a particular digital marketing problem you’re having. Or I can help you plan out your website from start to finish. Sound good? Book in here or reach out if you have any questions.