As a solopreneur who's just starting out on their business journey, there's no doubt you're living the dream! You've finally bitten the bullet, and you're doing something that makes your heart sing every day. But more than that, the best bit is you get to be your own boss!
The downside of that, though, is that you also get to be everyone else's boss…because you are everyone else!
When your new business is in its infancy, there are very few people who meet their staffing requirements from day one. Depending on the nature of your venture, in those early days, roles become filled by paid personnel only when there is no choice. Rarely is a team of staff a luxury afforded from the outset.
So, who are you at any given moment on any given day?
You're the CEO. You make the decisions, you represent your company, and you're the one the rest of the word associates with your brand.
You're the Accountant. You control the accounts payable, accounts receivable, company credit card, the petty cash tin and, in short, you're responsible for every cent that comes in; and every cent that goes out.
You're the Lead Sales. You're the one who makes the outgoing calls, and you're the one the punishment falls on when you don't reach your targets.
You're the Marketing Manager. You're responsible for marketing campaigns, social media, and making sure that your messaging is consistent with your brand.
You're the Service Provider. You must ensure that your customers receive their product or service with 100% satisfaction, so they continue to remain loyal to you.
You're the Maintenance Team. Leaky roof? You! Health and Safety issue? You! Dodgy cabling? All you!
You're the Administration. You answer the phone, send the mail, organise paperwork and provide service with a smile.
You’re the Chief Decision Maker.
In a potentially overwhelming amalgamation of all those roles, you are also the Chief Decision Maker! There’s nothing that can go ahead without your say so, and the buck for all decisions stops firmly with you. Decisions about budgets, procedures and company protocol all rests on your shoulders and you need to make sure you’re prepared for the weight of this responsibility.
To put it shortly, in the early days you are everyone from the ground up. And sometimes you need to be more than one of those people at once!
Now don't become overwhelmed, that's a lot to take in, but when you're just starting out, those roles aren't all full-time, so you're not expected to work 400-hour weeks!
With a bit of careful planning and consideration, it is possible to fit in everything that you need to do, and do it well!
Here are my tips for keeping all the 'solopreneur' juggling balls in the air when you're starting your business.
Starting before you launch, you'll have a to-do list the length of your arm, and if you're like most people who are launching a new business; it won't ever appear to get any shorter!
But don't get disheartened, the moment your list of things to do does become manageable, it means you have everything under control, and that's never a good sign for a new business!!
Learning how to prioritise your tasks is the key goal in business ownership.
First, tackle the tasks that generate cash flow. That means calling customers who want to make a sale, raising invoices, and chasing those late payers. Anything that can put an extra dollar in your bank account must come first.
Next focus on the tasks that will impact your reputation. A bad review in the press, an irate customer or social media feedback must also take a high priority. If your reputation suffers then so will your business, so it's vital that you stay on top of your customer service and the public perception of your brand.
Everything else comes next. Prioritise the remaining tasks based on meeting your customer and supplier’s deadlines and on those tasks that will help your business grow.
2) Avoid procrastination.
When you have so much to do it's easy to become overwhelmed and focus on those menial tasks which could wait until everything else has been complete. Or perhaps avoid your list altogether and spend your afternoon browsing social media profiles. None of which is of value but it does make you feel better at the time!
Laziness doesn't cause procrastination; it occurs when you're faced with tasks which overwhelm your brain to the point that it's easier not to do them. Check out an article giving you tips on how to avoid procrastination here.
3) Utilise local freelancers for support.
While you might not be in a position to employ permanent or even casual employees, use the skills of freelancers either online or in your local area. Skilled professionals are available to complete one-off tasks at a time and cost that is convenient to you without the ongoing commitment of wages and employee benefits. If a job is going to take you ten hours, but a freelancer could get it done (and probably better!) in five hours, look at the value of using their time against what you could achieve in your own time.
4) Don’t ignore things.
When you have a lot going on it can be easy to push things so far down the list that they just don’t get done. When you’re faced with a harder task that will take more brain power or effort to complete, it can be extremely tempting to spend your time carrying out the easier, more menial activities.
Don’t fall into this trap!
The success of your business relies on you being active and able to accomplish everything that needs to be done and in a timely manner.
If there are particular roles which keep getting buried, or that you find consistently cause you a metaphorical headache, engage with freelancers to get the tasks complete.
In this situation, ignorance is definitely not bliss and when the responsibility of success sits firmly on your shoulders, you need to rise to the task.
5) Don't tread water.
When there's so much to do, it can take all your time and energy to keep afloat but don't get caught up in just batting problems away. Always look for ways you can improve systems and procedures to save you more time in the future. Some things might take you longer in the first instance, but if this frees up more time on an ongoing basis, it's better to spend the time from the outset.
Learn to trust that the people around you, such as the freelancers you've engaged with, have experience in their particular areas and are the best people to help you improve your systems. While you are the CEO, you're also the administrator and can learn a lot from the people around you.
6) Take time out.
While this might sound counter-productive to completing your work, taking time out for yourself is one of the best ways to make sure you get through everything you need to. When you switch off completely, whether it’s for a day, an afternoon or even just a couple of hours; your brain becomes much more equipped to deal with your long list of duties.
Also, during those times of rejuvenation, your creativity starts to flow and ideas on how to do things better form.
Watch a movie, go for a walk, exercise, or catch up with friends; whatever you need to do to get time out from your business will help you get perspective on everything that needs to be done.
As a business owner, it’s incredibly hard to get that time away from a ringing phone or a pinging inbox, but switch your phone off for a few hours and focus on you. I can assure you that nobody will begrudge you this and it will benefit you and your business in the long run!
7) Don't be a perfectionist.
To multitask like the boss you are, you need to make sure that you don't give in to perfectionism because that takes up precious time! Of course, it's important that you get things right, but it's also important that you get things done! Learn to see 100% as everyone else sees it, and you'll get through your list a lot faster (before you have to start all over again!)
There's no doubt that you have all the skills that you need to juggle all those roles well; otherwise, you wouldn't be in this position! By following these simple tips and with a little time management and planning, you'll be on your way to employing a staff of plenty before you know it!