As a solo-entrepreneur, it can be hard to keep up with all of the different hats you have to wear in your business. One day you’re an accountant, the next you’re a copywriter. It seems like there’s no time left at the end of the day to actually work with your clients. Am I right?
I have good news though. We know it’s possible to work less and make more money. We’ve seen people do it and I’ve helped many achieve their desired lifestyles. Let me walk you through some of my favorite small business organization tips and tools.
(To be fully transparent, this blog does contain some affiliate links. While I may make a commission (at no additional cost to you), I will only recommend tools I genuinely use / stand behind in my business.)
Once you implement these into your business, you’ll spend less time working and more time sipping wine, hanging with your loved ones, traveling, or whatever else lights you up!
Grab your wine, a floaty, and let’s dive in, shall we?
Have you ever looked at how much time you spend on your phone? I did the other day and it was a WAKE UP CALL for me. Now, granted, most of my income comes from IG, but I spent 18 HOURS on that app alone last week.
*Cue me immediately updating app limits on my phone and pondering what I’m doing what my life!*
But seriously, how much time are you spending each day checking whatever notifications pop up? Or repeating the same task over an over (aka wasting time)? Here’s how we’re going to fix this in just THREE steps, which you can (and should) do RIGHT NOW:
- Set app limits on your phone. (Ex. No more than 1 hour of IG per day and no social media or emails after 7pm… Trust me – it can wait!)
- Turn off all push notifications so your phone stops buzzing or dinging all damn day. That split second ding, even if you don’t check it, is proven to distract you just long enough that your efficiency drops!
- Set aside 1-2 specific times each day to check emails, DMs, and engage on social media. Set a timer to stay accountable.
STOP: If you still haven’t implemented these three changes, do it now. Thank me later.
Plan Your Strategy Day(s)
What’s the first thing you do when you plan a trip? Pick the destination, right? You should be doing the same thing in your business. So many of my clients are extremely hardworking, but don’t see progress because they don’t know what they’re progressing toward.
Instead, they’re sort of like a cart with one broken wheel. You can pull the cart as hard as you want, but it’s only going to go in circles. So, your next step is to make sure you plan in at least one day a week for strategy / reorienting your business.
This is your chance to work ON your business, not in it. Here are some things you can think through on these days:
- Future outsourcing needs / hires.
- New offers and a complementary marketing plan through a series of social media content and funnels.
- Admin, schedule organization, and setting up systems like we’re going to talk about in a second.
Dare to dream. This is your chance to imagine the ideal future for your business and plan on how to get there.
Batch Tasks for Efficiency
Batch working is when you plan to complete similar tasks within a certain timeframe to prevent your brain from having to switch gears. It helps increase efficiency and focus. For example, you would edit all your photos one day, shoot a different day, write content a different day, etc.
You can learn more about how to implement batch working in a past blog post I wrote, but here are some of my favorite tools for batching / scheduling ahead…
Tailwind for Pinterest
This is how I spend less than an hour a week on Pinterest, which accounts for over 60% of my web traffic on a given day.
Tailwind allows you to schedule your pins weeks in advance and then posts them for you at optimal times. If you want to pin content from others, you can either use the Tailwind plug-in on Chrome to schedule straight from Pinterest OR you can utilize Tailwind tribes. Using the second option allows you to build a sense of community where you share other’s pins and they share yours to cross-pollinate audiences.
Get your first month free using by clicking here!
Later for Instagram Posts
If you’ve ever been to my Instagram feed, you know I have a visually consistent theme of graphics and photos. Later allows me to plan my posts weeks ahead with full captions and hashtags, but also allows me to see what my feed will look like with those given posts.
I use the free version, which has been completely sufficient for my needs, but if you wanted, you could upgrade for extra features like hashtag recommendations. Side Note: I also use Apple Notes to plan out my stories and blogs for the coming weeks to correspond with these posts.
Mailchimp for Email Marketing
The exact provider can vary here. Mailchimp is free up to 1000 subscribers, so it’s a great place to start when you’re trying to maximize profit at the start of your business.
This email provider allows me to schedule my weekly newsletters in advance, but more importantly, it automates my email marketing funnels. When someone signs up for a freebie, it automatically sends it to them, then initiates the appropriate sequence. That sequence allows me to nurture new leads and deliver the right evergreen offers to them passively. They get help and I’m able to make money without being directly involved. It’s like having a free sales person. Win-win.
Automate Your Client Process
Most of those batch working tools I use are great for content planning and marketing, but I think it’s also important to automate your client process. The less time you have to spend client admin tasks, the more time you can spend giving them an incredible experience.
As I said earlier, repeating tasks is a waste of your time. Look at your business and ask yourself what tasks take up a lot of time, but could easily be automated. I’m sure a big time-suck is responding to leads and on-boarding, right?
What if I told you that you could hire someone for $400 this whole year that would take care of a large portion of your client booking / scheduling process? No brainer, right? What if I told you you could get 20% off?
HoneyBook is my favorite tool for managing my leads, calendar, and clients. You can set up workflows that automate depending on the type of lead you get.
To give you an idea of what I mean, let’s walk through a hypothetical situation now versus with HoneyBook. The italicized bullets are the parts you have to spend time on for each client…
- You get an email inquiry on your site.
- You draft a response. They respond.
- You write back and forth for a while.
- They want to move forward.
- You write out all the details (maybe) of your work together, you tell them they can pay you via this link or some lesser professional channel such as Venmo and then they need to print the contract, sign it, scan it, and then email it back.
- Now, you print the contract, countersign, and email it back with a PDF questionnaire that they also need to fill out to get started.
- You get the questionnaire and now you email back and forth about when you want to meet first.
- Once you have the time set, you email them details for how / when to meet.
- You put the meeting in your planner / calendar.
- They miss their second payment, so you have to bug them a few times and remind them where they can pay.
- When the meeting comes, you have to sift through 30 emails to find the exact details to make sure you deliver on what you promised.
(REPEAT this with ____ clients you have in a month / year.)
- Client fills out inquiry questions on your site, which auto-populates into a HoneyBook project file.
- HoneyBook can automatically initiate your workflow for that type of lead (if you want), sending them whatever documents you planned ahead of time (a brochure, package list, or more info about yourself).
- They remind you to follow up when the lead doesn’t respond right away.
- Client asks questions or wants to meet before booking, so you send them a link to your calendar where they pick a time and are automatically sent details. It syncs to your calendar.
- You meet the client, draft a proposal off of a template you’ve already created, and send it to the client.
- They review project details, sign the contract, and pay you all on the same page.
- You countersign and follow up with necessary questionnaires or scheduling.
- Future payment reminders are sent by HoneyBook (so you’re not harassing them).
- You forget the details, so you simply go open up the files for that client and it’s all there on one page.
Virtually half of your tasks or more are taken over by HoneyBook and all of your clients and their project details are stored neatly for you. Click here to get 20% off your first year of HoneyBook. You can start with a free two-week trial to test the waters if you’d like!
Aspects of Your Business to Systemize
The above example is just an overview of what life could be like with a good CRM (client relationship manager). Regardless of whether or not you’re ready to take that step, you should strive to automate or systemize repetitive tasks in your business. Here are a few to consider:
Your Booking Process:
- Email Templates
- Pre-Fab Questionnaires for Your Inquiries
- Pre-Fab Responses
- Pricing Sheets / Service Menus
- Pre-Written Contracts (E-Signable)
Your Payment Process:
- Automatic reminders when payments are due or late.
- If your CRM can do this for you, your clients won’t associate you with pestering them for payment.
- Set up a point of sale that can operate without you.
- For my evergreen, passive income, like courses / ebooks, I use Etsy and Teachable so that my students can get access without me.
Client Work Process:
- Use a gallery delivery system online.
- Keep a digital calendar so you can access it anywhere you go.
- Use a pre-determined communication method (like email via HoneyBook) to keep everything organized in one place.
- Keep all client information in one folder, clearly labeled.
- Don’t waste time looking for things you need – keep it organized.
- We covered this in the Batch Working section, but you can come up with a combination of tools that works best for you!
- Use apps like Canva to create consistent graphics simply and quickly!
In summary, let’s review the key takeaways. If you skipped to this section because you’re pressed for time, you probably need to read this post in its entirety more than anyone. (Oh the irony.)
- Batch like tasks to keep your brain efficient and focused.
- Limit how much you repeat tasks in a day and set aside time to do them all at once instead – emails, social media engagement, etc.
- Automate everything you can to save TONS of time when you’re running your business on your own.
- Know your destination and plan accordingly. Scheduling ahead = strategic movement. Willy nilly posting = staying stuck.
If you want more time management tips or found these super helpful, please come say “hi” over on Instagram! I’d love to cheer on your blossoming business!