Run your small business without letting it run you

As a business owner, you’re used to juggling a lot, but being busy doesn’t always mean you’re being productive.

It’s easy to lose sight of why you started your business in the first place, but taking a step back to reassess your priorities on a regular basis could make a huge difference

Are you spending your time wisely across all the activities you’re involved in?

It’s not all about the money

If you started your business to get more flexibility, better health or more free time to spend with your family, are you achieving this? Or have you fallen into the trap of always striving for more money; money you may not even need?

Focus on the work that reaps the most reward, and you could redirect more time towards your original goals. A 4 day work week, or that next family holiday could become a reality.

Could you work smarter? Here are 10 questions to help you find out…

  1. Would other people say that you had a good work-life balance?
  2. Do you ever turn down work, and what is your criteria for accepting or rejecting a client or project?
  3. What non-business related activities do you take part in every week that are non-negotiable?
  4. Do you ever do work or give away additional services for free?
  5. Could you narrow your offering to cut out less profitable services?
  6. Have you ever ‘sacked’ a client? Are you giving the most attention to your more profitable clients?
  7. When did you last raise your rates?
  8. Are you performing business processes which should be automated, delegated or outsourced?
  9. Are you giving your team members the opportunity to learn and grow?
  10. If you were hospitalised for three months tomorrow, would the business survive without you?

Get organised

When business is busy, it can feel impossible to spend time on anything but actually doing the work. But if you know you’re not as organised as you could be, then blocking out time to get things in order is going to save you so much time and effort in the long run.

Focus on one thing at a time in order to achieve this, e.g:

  • clearing out your inbox
  • sorting out your paperwork
  • designing new client packages, processes and clearly-defined deliverables
  • writing and implementing marketing plans
  • starting to use digital tools that can help you speed up or automate work.

The hardest part is getting started – lots of things won’t take half as long as the amount of time you’ve spent procrastinating!

In the first instance dedicate an hour, set a timer and get cracking. You’ll be surprised how much you can achieve.

Have a break

There are no prizes for consecutive days worked or months passed without a holiday. Take some time off! It’ll give you a renewed sense of motivation, help generate ideas and put things into perspective.

You’ll enjoy work more for it and other people will enjoy being around you more!

If you’re self-employed and worried about not getting holiday pay then this is something that should be built into your rate. Schedule time off well in advance so that you can prepare for it, plan around it and let your clients know.

As well as longer breaks, make sure you include daily and weekly breaks in your schedule for exercise and leisure time.

Get the right mindset

You can’t just change your mindset overnight, but a good first step is to practise acknowledging when you worry or give yourself a hard time. You’ll get better at identifying this over time, which will enable you to control those feelings and how they affect your actions.

Often it’s not the people around us that make us feel bad; we bring it on ourselves. Cut yourself some slack, stop feeling guilty, trust yourself to go with your gut instinct and don’t sweat the small stuff or take things personally.

Creating healthy habits can be really important in getting your mind in the right place. Some healthy habits you could incorporate more of today are;

  • getting some exercise, even just heading outside for a walk
  • eating well
  • drinking lots of water
  • cutting down on caffeine and alcohol
  • getting a good night’s sleep
  • and building a support network made up of people you trust; people you can turn to for help

In Summary

Step back from everything for a moment, and check in with yourself today. Have you been blindly cramming everything into your day, without focussing on your day-to-day happiness?

Follow our five tips above to get more of a balance in your life, and you should soon notice the pressure easing off.

Read more on running a small business here:

Smarter thinking: mindfulness in the workplace

Your first year of business: how is it going?

The benefits of collaborating with other industries for your business

Sophie Cross is a freelance writer and marketer specialising in business and travel. She is the editor for London Revealed magazine and her clients include Group and Merlin Entertainments.

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