A technical glitch, an unexpected influx of work, or running out of steam in your passion for your business, or even personally — these are all potential snafus that can throw your business off track or just keep it from growing smoothly and steadily. They’re also things that happened to me in 2015.
Luckily, I learned some important lessons that showed me areas where I can run my business more smoothly moving forward. These lessons are transferrable to any business, and they could save you some headaches down the road if you learn from my mistakes.
Get your books in order
I had a nasty visit from Canada Revenue Agency last year, and it was all thanks to a little technical glitch, which ended up costing me in fines to the government. Accounting and bookkeeping are something you’ll always need to catch up on eventually anyway, so it makes sense to prioritize staying up-to-date. This means keeping track of your receipts, having your accounting software set up properly, and setting up your invoicing templates so that everything you need is on there — your business number, late fee and all other necessary information.
If you’re handling your books yourself, set up a monthly date with your invoicing software. If you don’t have time to do it yourself, hire a bookkeeper or accountant, either to set you up or manage your books and accounting on a regular basis. This was the first task I paid someone else to do after starting my business, and it was worth it from the get-go. Paying someone else is far better than bumbling through and screwing it up. Trust me on this one.
Have backup resources ready
Having an unexpected influx of work fall on your plate is a great problem to have, but only if you have the resources to deliver on your contracts. Whether this means personnel, time, products or supplies, you should make sure you have enough to fulfill your contracts but also sufficient back-up resources to meet demand if any of your resources fall through.
I had an influx of work come in before Christmas last year and thought I had the capacity to handle it, but then some things fell through. I had to rejig my plans a bit and as a result, other work that I wanted to complete for my own business had to be put on the back burner. I’d like to prevent this from happening again by having extra contract workers available for times like this.
Build in time to work ON your business, not just IN your business
Sometimes we spend so much time labouring in our business that we forget the whole reason we started the business in the first place — let alone any growth strategies we had been dreaming of. It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day drudgery of checking emails and other such tasks and lose sight of the forest for the trees.
Last summer I returned from a family holiday abroad and found myself completely lacking direction in my business. I had spent so much time making sure everything was ready before I left that when I came back, I wasn’t sure what to work on.
Working in your business without regularly taking time to reexamine your business goals can:
- Cause your momentum to stall
- Cause you to lose your passion for the business
- Take your attention away from creating new leads
If you haven’t already got a business plan, writing one will be your first step toward creating and maintaining your focus. Even if it’s just one page, a business plan will keep you focused and on task. From there, you can create SMART goals to move your business forward (this blog post will walk you through how to create SMART goals). Lastly, schedule time regularly to work on ideas. Once a week or every two weeks, take this time to write them down — get creative! It’s so important to keep that passion for your business stoked.
Build in time for self-care
As business owners, we give so much of ourselves to our clients, vendors, team and family that there can sometimes be nothing left at the end of the day. In 2015, I found myself running out of steam on a regular basis. Yes, having a young child certainly contributes to that, however it’s up to me to make sure I’m taking care of myself before I hit that breaking point — no one else is going to do that for me. And yet, if I get run down, I hurt not just myself but also my family and colleagues in the end.
Take the time to take care of you. This means scheduling in workouts, scheduling a massage or your chosen form of self-care, and working in some time for something that fills up your cup — for me, this means a couple of non-work related lunch meetings each month.
For 2016 I have scheduled in regular lunches with friends and a monthly “me-day,” when there’s no work and it’s just about me. I hope you’ll do the same!
If you plan to take the time to spend on your business and not just in your business this year, give me a call. I would love to sit down with you and talk about the best ways to make your business stronger in 2016!