With the Fourth of July well in the rearview mirror, it’s time to focus on independence of a different sort… According to a Gallup Poll, 57% of small business owners say they work 6 days a week or more. Furthermore, they’re putting in 52 hours of work per week. Sounds like more often than not, the business owns you and not the other way around!
We’re here to tell you there’s a better way. That’s why we put together these ‘6 Steps to Achieve Small Business Independence’. Enjoy!
1. Implement great technology systems, and automate as much as possible.
So often we see business owners performing tasks manually without the use of any systems at all: email correspondence, lead capture, proposal generation, bookkeeping, so on and so forth. While it may seem that your hands-on approach and ‘personal touch’ is what separates you from everyone else, the truth of the matter is your need to do it all yourself is really what’s slowing your business down.
For any task you’re performing manually, there absolutely exists a system that will do it for you automatically– and more effectively! Therefore, start researching the best technologies, and get them implemented. Cloud-based software gets easier and easier to set up, so don’t be afraid of it. A few days spent now in implementing great systems will save you thousands of hours in lost time down the road.
2. Be a great outsourcer.
While having a trusted team of employees around you is always nice, most businesses can’t afford a large staff (and some can’t afford any staff at all). And even if you could have an office full of people, it doesn’t mean it’s the optimal strategy for your business.
Figure out which functions can be outsourced to a third party (marketing, phone answering, accounting, etc.) and find good outsourcing partners. Most likely, you’ll spend 50-70% less when you outsource it, and you’ll have half the headaches.
The world is changing quickly as many talented people are choosing to work ‘gigs’ instead of going full-time as an employee for a company. So take advantage of the movement, and get top-notch outsourced work performed for a fraction of the price.
3. Learn to delegate.
Famous small business guru, Michael Gerber, said, “Work on your business, not in your business.” While we know you need to ‘make the pizzas’ before you can teach others how to do it– the quicker you get others making pizzas the sooner you can get away from the day-to-day duties and focus more of your time on long term planning.
Running a business takes great vision, and it’s tough to see the path clearly if you are constantly looking down at your feet. Let others handle the load whenever possible so you can block out time to think clearly, analyze reports, perform market research, etc. Time spent now planning for the future gets you to your future much faster!
4. Unplug on a regular basis.
You are the key to your business, and when your batteries are drained the business suffers. Therefore, recharge your batteries on regular basis by putting away your devices. Take a walk in the park, enjoy some sunshine, and leave the gadgets behind. Some time away from messages and the Internet will allow you to think clearer and make better decisions.
It’s also ok to let your patients, clients and customers know you will be unplugging for a bit so you can be more effective when you return. Just make sure your team is trained on what to say and do in your absence, and then trust that they will handle things properly while you’re away.
5. Expect problems, focus on resolutions.
There’s one certainty every business owner faces in operating a business– something will go wrong. Anticipate it, expect it, and focus on your processes for quick and effective resolution. There hasn’t been product launched yet that didn’t have a glitch… and your customers have far more tolerance for issues than you might expect. It’s what happens next that’s most important.
A proper apology and resolution tells folks everything they need to know about your business moving forward. Make sure to find ways to go above and beyond when mistakes occur so that unfortunate circumstances become opportunities to gain trust. You’ll be surprised at how many lifelong customers you can earn during some of your most embarrassing moments.
6. Keep the faith.
There will be many times during the lifespan of your business where you will consider throwing in the towel. We’d be lying if we didn’t acknowledge how tough it really is to build a successful business– but you know that already.
The independence of our nation didn’t happen overnight. Countless meetings, events and milestones had to be reached before the dream could become a reality. And mistakes happened all along the way… but our Founding Fathers never gave up because they knew the importance of freedom.
Giving up is always the easiest way out– the hard thing to do is to stick to the plan and see it through. So be up for the challenge, and keep the faith that all of the processes, systems and strategies you’re implementing now will pay huge dividends for you in the future.