Organization and Planning Tips for Women who are just starting in Business
If you are thinking about starting a business here are some planning tips for women in business specifically. Let me begin by saying, anyone that tells you that entrepreneurship is easy has either never been a business owner, or is just straight up full of denial. So be prepared to pull out your sense of humor and put on your big girl panties; it’s going to be a wild ride. Even with all of the ups and downs, I would still rather work 80 hours a week for myself than 40 for someone else. The key I have found is to listen to the experts who blazed the trail before me and to find a balance between the good and the bad, the tedious work and the creative work.
Build A Team
Before you do anything else, write down your strengths and weaknesses. Yes, write them down so you can see them, visualize them, and refer back to them. Once you determine and recognize these you can get to work building your team. You DO need a team; you do NOT need to be everything and do everything yourself. In fact, the sooner you learn this the faster your track to success will be.
Because there is no “I” in entrepreneur.
Working alone sucks. I actually use that as my tagline in business, because it’s the truth and has been proven that being around like-minded people motivates us and having those connections increase our productivity. Being a business owner, an entrepreneur sounds sexy, but it will take its toll on you if you don’t build strong business and social relationships. And even if it doesn’t make sense to hire your own in-house team, you can still join networking groups, find a mentor, and outsource day-to-day operations that will ultimately create new opportunities.
Most of us jump into business because we either see an opportunity, something missing in the consumer or business place, or because we are really good at something. Sometimes both of these things happen at once. But what you quickly find out is you are more than that exceptional sales person; you are now the bookkeeper, the marketing manager, the CFO, the receptionist. Thousands of little day to day tasks now fall on your shoulders. This brings me back to strengths and weaknesses and the necessity in building your team. I cannot stress enough the importance of aligning yourself with experts that compliment your strengths. Find yourself a great CPA and bookkeeper right from the start and find yourself a business coach. There are so many resources available, like the WBC, that provide free workshops and mentoring for business owners at every stage of business. (http://wbcutah.com/)
Automate and Outsource
We all hear how we need to work “on” our business and not “in” our business, but if you are a small operation or a one-man show, it is impossible to not do both. But there are ways you can create the impression that you are bigger than life. I have built my business on other professionals and business owners needing to outsource. But before you outsource make sure that you understand what you are asking someone else to do. You should always have a basic knowledge of the tasks you are delegating and even though initially it feels like the time spent training someone else could be better spent, in the long run, it will free up your bandwidth to grow your business. It’s the old “load the dishwasher” theory I had for years. It was much easier to just do it myself than to teach my children how to fit everything in. But guess what, once they learned, it was amazing how great it felt to come home and have such a simple chore done and off my plate (no pun intended).
Consider using a virtual assistant, outsourcing call answering, or using an online resource like Fiverr for graphics and marketing materials. Nobody is going to sell your business like you do in the early stages, so leave the mundane day to day tasks to experts that in some instances can work more efficiently which ultimately saves you money. Sign up for free CRM programs like MailChimp or Constant Contact to streamline and automate your email blasts and build your contact lists. They include great analytic tools you can use to track what is and isn’t working and keep your sales leads in one place.
Does your industry offer a white label option that you can piggyback off of? I have found that in almost every industry there is a company out there with a solution you can incorporate into what you are doing. Example; I sell Meeting Space. So I found a company that offered an online booking system I could white label and incorporate into my website so I didn’t need to approve or monitor all the requests and reservations. BOOM! One thing off my plate and it provided a newfound network of similar businesses that I could tap in to.
Organize and Make Lists Daily
Just like Santa, make a list and check it twice. Every night before I go to bed I make a list of the top 10 things I need to do the next day. Nothing more nothing less. I have found that 10 was a reasonable and realistic goal for me personally. Sometimes this list is a little bit personal and professional, sometimes it includes things as simple as put gas in the car, but regardless of the task, nothing feels better than crossing things off that list. It helps me feel focused, on track, and accomplished in small doses.
Clutter has a funny way of making us think everything is important. Chaos breeds chaos, so try and keep your workspace free of unnecessary clutter. Chances are if you haven’t used it in the past year you won’t, so toss it. Backup files on a regular basis, utilizing technology and sharing capabilities like the ‘cloud’. Organize your schedule in one place with one calendar and block out time for yourself. Remember that an organized business is a more productive business. And if being organized is not one of your strengths, find someone who can step in and help keep everything in its place.
Set goals, both short term, and long term, and write them down. As a business owner, it is hard to not start every day with a list including short term goals. These could include daily sales quotas, annual updates, social media posts etc. But if you don’t set you sights on the big picture, the destination, you will meander into other places that were not part of the trip, and that creates setbacks and distractions.
Remember you went into business to control your own destiny. Do not underestimate yourself. It takes a unique type of person willing to leave the stability and norms of a traditional work environment to follow a vision or a dream. That alone says something about YOU! And the best way to not get overwhelmed is to take each day in chunks and include some element of fun in what you do. After all, isn’t that part of why you are in business for yourself?
Kathryn Christiansen is the Owner/Founder of myBusinessBar, Utah’s first hybrid coworking office space. She is a serial entrepreneur with more than 10 start-up businesses under her belt. She owes her success to her four amazing children who have tolerated crazy work hours and mood swings. Kathryn is passionate about helping other women succeed and finding the courage to re-invent and overcome life’s challenges. When not locked in an office searching for the next challenge, you can find her on the beaches of San Diego with a glass of vino in her hand.