As a small business owner, it never ceases to amaze me how fast time flies. I remember just last year, working for my previous employer, how the work week seemed to drag on. And it wasn’t just the work week – even a morning or afternoon could stretch out for what felt like eternity. And when the weekend finally came it was over in a snap.
If you’re like me, the need (has) presented itself to develop a schedule as well as systems to keep you and your business organized. Following are a few of the practices I have set in place to keep my day running (at least a little bit) smoother.
*Please note – The following tips are geared more towards business-to-business (B2B) service providers than other business types.*
- Business Hours – For some new entrepreneurs, it is easy to fall into the mindset that they can start and end their business day whenever they want. Foregoing the alarm clock, they wake when they want and work into the wee hours of the night. Unfortunately, if their target clients are in their time zone, they could be missing out on potential work and/or client contact. Even if you work out of your home, it is critical to operate your business during standard business hours. So, set your alarm, get out of bed when it goes off, and start your day as if you had to report for work as an employee rather than as the boss.
- Social Media – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can eat enormous quantities of time if you are not careful. To battle the social media time monster, I tend to avoid Facebook during the work day. If I need to hop on, I immediately turn off chat. In addition, I use Hootsuite to monitor our company’s activity, but 1) schedule our posts in advance and 2) only check the streams twice a day for less than 1/2 hour per session.
- Email – I have assigned each of our clients their own folder in my Outlook inbox. Each time an email arrive, I assign it a follow-up deadline, and send the email to the “Client Name” folder. Once the task in the email has been completed, I mark the email “Complete” and send it to the “Client Name – Closed” sub-folder.
*Note – I NEVER delete client related emails, as I have found on many occasions that I have had to refer back to “Complete” emails for one reason or another.
- Client Specific Project Folders – While it may seem obvious to some, it surprises me to hear how many professionals save all their computer files, regardless of the client, in one folder. Not me. Each client has their own folder, and if I am working on multiple projects for a single client, each project has its own sub-folder.
- Internet Windows/Tabs – Before holding a screen share meeting with a new client, I always provide the disclaimer that I will quite a few internet windows and software programs open. While it drives Dave crazy, it’s how I work.
Focusing purely on the internet windows, however, there is a reason behind my many open windows. Once again, it’s one per client. If I am working on a project for Client “A” that has me referencing several websites, I will open a new tab for each site. Client “B” will have their own window with tabs, and I will have my own personal window. Once I am finished referencing a page, I close the tab.
Given my high frequency of phone calls/Skype sessions with screen shares, this allows each client’s projects to remain confidential. It also allows an ease of navigation while focusing on the work of just one client.
Are you in need of further assistance getting systems in place to maximize your work day? Our coaching programs can help you do just that! Contact us today to set up a FREE 15-minute coaching program information session.
Kim Sutton is the Managing Partner and Chief Everything Officer of The Sutton Companies, including Sutton Strategic Solutions and Sutton Creative Studios. She is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Architecture.
An avid reader and passionate learner, Kim is constantly researching, studying and developing business improvement strategies. When it comes to client work, Kim especially enjoys helping her clients develop innovative marketing strategies and sales funnels, particularly when they are using Infusionsoft to automate all the heavy lifting. To find out how you can further develop your company’s marketing and automation strategies schedule a 1-hour Business Boost Strategy Session by clicking here.
In her free-time, Kim cherishes the time she gets to spend with her husband, Dave (her business partner), and five children. She also enjoys reading, knitting, writing and playing video games.
Get a copy of Kim’s FREE guide, “10 Top Tools for Small Businesses” by clicking here.