Being self-employed feels great but, it can be nerve wrecking too. Yes, you’re the boss, you call your own shots, no more 9 – 5. Yes, it’s all fun yeah? What they didn’t tell you dear is, you are on your own. On your own as in every aspect of it. There’s no guaranteed pay check at the end of the month, there’s no hid and seek and sneaking around. There’s no longer any dodgy tea break, cigar break, hiding in the loo and late coming. You are totally responsible for the outcome of your business. If you generate income all well and good for you but if you coil up on your bed or party away your time, you have yourself and only yourself to blame.
After series of my conversations with self-employed entrepreneurs, I have come up with this 5 smart ways to stay on top of your game. These are based on the 5 most slacking things keeping self-employed people from getting ahead.
GET OUT OF BED
Yes, now that you’re self employed, it’s no longer 9 to 5 for you. Agreed. But what you don’t know is now night to night. As a self employed, you have to be out of the bed and be on your feet almost 24hours, 7 days a week. Nothing to scare you, it’s the truth. Whether you’re sleeping, walking, working, partying or eating, your business is always on your mind following you. Especially during the formative years, just like a new mum nursing her new-born. There’s no running away from it until it can stand on it’s feet. Even then, you have to still supervise and make sure every aspect of the business is doing what you intend it to do.
MINIMISE PHONE CALLS
When you’re self-employed it’s easy to be buy doing absolutely nothing. Unnecessary telephone calls are time wasters. Study has shown that 80% of good customers do not ask too many questions and have no need calling you unnecessarily except you’ve not made buying clear and simple.
Because you’re a small business, there’s every likelihood that most of your buyers know you personally. Therefore, their calls are not going to end on the straightforward buying and selling. Often times, the time spent discussing things that have absolutely nothing to do with your business is almost guaranteed and unavoidable. The only sure ways to avoid this are
a. Have your business line set with automated voice instructions.
b. If you must pick up the phone, make sure you’re standing on your feet, keep a hasty tone and wrap up the call as soon as possible. Let your caller (friend) know you have another client to serve if necessary to call back during your out of business hours if the gist is necessary.
c. Stick to emails. Insist that your prospect email detail of their enquiry or proposal and if necessary schedule a telephone call for a maximum of 30mins if need be.
d. The best is to make sure your website is updated with clear and easy to follow instructions of what your clients are looking for. By so doing, you’re better off referring them back to the website. Have an updated Frequently asked questions on your website where people can find answer to what they’re looking for before they can call you. If necessary keep them on the phone while directing them on the website. By so doing, you’re not distracted into discussing irrelevant matters.
MANAGE AND PRIORTISE YOUR TIME EFFECTIVELY
Time is money literally . This is one solid fact that most people take for granted. Any time lost will never be recovered so why waste it?
If you will not use your working time as an employee to entertain friends and family, why use your business hours for chatting over a cuppa, meeting friends, catching up etc. Nothing wastes entrepreneurs’ time as having a lunch, tea whatever they come up with. Even a prospective client can only be booked for meetings if you are over 50% sure that they are going to sign up to your business. Otherwise such meetings are time wasters and often useless. They can be avoided.
Every so often those friends who ask that you meet up over a cuppa do have their regular 9 to 5 and are sure of their pay check at the end of the month. They only want to meet you on their day off. Why do you a self-employed want to meet on your business working day when you clearly know you’re catching up has nothing to add to your business. Be wise with your time.
WRITE OUT YOUR DAY PLAN DAY BEFORE.
Planning your day out from previous day can never be over emphasised. Writing down what you set to achieve the next day set you on a firm and objective direction. Agreed thing do change. But staying in control is the key here. Whatever happens, with your day already planned out helps you to get back on track as quickly as possible. Besides, this is the most effective way to measure your day to day performance. See a day plan for a working from home mum with kids.
a.6.30 am – wake up, tidy up and get kids ready for school.
b.8.30 – drop kids off to school .
c.9.00 – Tidy the house, empty bins, etc.
d.10.00 – Check emails, respond to so, so and so. Book appointments etc.
e.11.30 – Attend webinar with my business coach .
f.12.00- Check email – send follow ups.
g.1.30 – Publish articles for so, so and so website .
h.2. 00 Check on a supplier, confirm all details and approve.
i.2. 30 – Close all business stuff, take a 30 mins break and get ready for after school runs.
This little but tidy and clear schedule helps you to keep thing in perspective.
Network and Collaborate with like minds.
It is said your network determines your net worth. Build a network of serious minded people who are going where you want to go. Make out time to attend business networking events, business meet-ups; where you will have opportunity to pitch to groups or individuals about your business. Find events that focus on your niche and make yourself visible in these places.
Meet individuals who will benefit from your business and those who can also add value to yours. Keep thing simple, clear and straightforward. Learn to ask for exactly what you want and stop beating about the bush. Clear off relationships that aren’t adding up or are demotivating you. Anyone who is criticising you at your formation time is not needed. Find those who can see where you’re heading to and are willing to take you there, or show you how to get there.
Attend conferences, workshops, meet-ups and expos. They not only give you exposure but, goes along way connecting you with individuals who are as hungry as you and are mostly looking to collaborate too. Always a win, win.
Record keeping is essential.
I’ve met so many entrepreneurs who find it difficult to have agreements written down. It doesn’t matter how much close you are with someone, you have to know that business is business and must be treated as such. Record keeping does not only help you keep track of your dealings with people, it is also essentially needed for your accounting purposes and of course people can forget or fall sick. You’re only left with the piece of paper of your agreement to prove yourself. Keep agreements, proposals, quotes, etc as clear and simple as possible.
Nothing personal here. But please put it in writing, thank you.