Having a solo business or a small business can be completely overwhelming. You are responsible for the sales, marketing, strategic planning, office supply procurement, technology implementation and support – help! Even the most competent entrepreneur suffers from information overload and choice overwhelm. It is very easy to just shut down and not be able to move forward.
Working the To-Do List that Won’t Die: Try having a big master list but pull out 1-3 of the tasks onto a separate list and commit to getting those done today. If you finish and have more time, pick another task from the master list. Ticking off items feels good and builds positive momentum. There are three ways you can pick. One is to “eat a live frog for breakfast” or pick the thing that you are dreading and do it first to get it over with. Once that is completed, you may feel unblocked and ready to conquer the world. How often do we sit there feeling stuck with a dreaded task hanging over our head? Another way is to prioritize and pick the most important tasks and do those first. The last way is to pick the tasks that will take no time and just zip through them to get them off the master list and build positive momentum.
Not Allocating Enough Time for Technology: Each time-saving software package is different and it will take time to get up to speed. Note: you will most likely have some very frustrating moments. Plan for the time and add 30% because it will probably take longer than you think. If all goes smoothly – bonus!
Forgetting to Market While Doing Client Work: This is a big trap that newer entrepreneurs (and some veterans) fall into. You are completely slammed working on a client project or getting a product to market or building a working demo of your software and you forget that you always need to be marketing. You need to ensure that there are prospects in the sales funnel. What if that marquis client goes away? Create the habit of marketing at least a little bit every day. When you are new in your business you will naturally be spending pretty much all of your time marketing and getting the word out. As you grow, you still want to spend at least 20-30 percent of your time marketing consistently.
Experiencing Social Media Time-Suck: Love it, hate it, or fear it – social media is here to stay and I don’t think you can afford to not have some presence. That said, you can allocate your time appropriately for your goals. On one end of the spectrum is me who probably spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter (but it has been great for my business). Other entrepreneurs commit to posting to their blog or updating the status on their company page X times per week. They check for client interaction and limit the amount of time engaging to 15 minutes morning and afternoon or some other fixed amount of time per day. You need to figure out what makes sense for your type of business and schedule. I am connected almost all of the time, but I don’t recommend that you do that unless you want to. A much saner way of managing social media is detailed in Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. The updated edition has a plan to follow that I believe would bring good results and would not take a ton of time. Check it out.
Failing to Disconnect: Make sure you carve out specific times of the day where you turn off and tune out in order to either 1. Recharge your creativity or 2. Get heads-down and power through a project without distractions. The times you pick will depend on the other things you have going on in your life. I like to take an extended lunch break in the middle of the day to unplug and go for a long walk and/or meet a friend for lunch. I come back fresh, focused, and full of ideas. I also recommend that you do something mid-afternoon during that energy slump most of us experience. Don’t just sit there messing around on Facebook drinking coffee. Get up and move around. Step away from your laptop, look at something far away, and think about something other than your business. You will be much more productive for the rest of the day.
Suffering from Information Overload: This is brutal. With so much information and training freely available, it is easy to feel like you are in an avalanche of data and possibilities. I think the key is to prioritize and stay focused on the info that leads to the fast path to the cash. If you are looking to learn how to do webinars, don’t sign up for the SEO call/webinar because it looks good. Pick something you need to learn that will help you to grow your business and read/attend training about that topic. Other subjects may be interesting – and even important – but they will have to wait. There are only so many hours in a day and you need to work on and in your business too or you won’t have one. And do not get stuck in the trap of thinking you need more and different training – get out there and test your ideas on real people who could buy your stuff! I know more entrepreneurs who use training as a block and imagine that they need one more course or one more certification or one more eBook/info product to be ready. Don’t do this. Get out and test. Today.
In Summary: My theory is that doing small things every day to move your business forward helps you to feel like you are in control and making progress. This, in turn, helps to keep overwhelm at bay, and helps you to spend less time in the dips of that emotional rollercoaster we entrepreneurs ride.