It’s not too late to make this part of your business resolutions: stop doing things you hate doing.
Which is harder than it sounds.
I know what it’s like to feel like you have to do everything. There are all sorts of aspects of running a business that I’m not crazy about (like invoicing) but I’ve found that there’s pretty much an app or software for just about anything, and for those items where a person needs to be involved–well, there’s a person who actually enjoys doing that stuff, you just need to find her.
If you haven’t already, start automating things that you hate doing whenever possible, it will make your life so much easier!
Invoicing and Bookkeeping – I currently use 17Hats for this. I love being able to generate invoices from projects easily and auto-sort my income and expenses.
Emails – Obviously you can set up an auto-responder, but do you know how to make it useful? Instead of just saying, “hey, I’ll get back to you ASAP!” you can link to your FAQ and forgo the need to respond to some of the emails you get entirely. If you still feel the need to respond, you can create canned responses so you’re not reinventing the wheel each time–just choose the response from a drop down, hit send, and be on your way! And yes, even difficult emails can be semi-automated.
Social media – Okay, I know social media strategists may disagree with this practice, but I feel like it’s fine in moderation. Quite frankly, I hate writing promotional tweets, so I’ll do them in batches, schedule them, and be done for the month. I also get a fair amount of interaction from auto-tweeting my old blog posts–so it’s not a practice I’ll be ditching anytime soon. If this doesn’t work for you and your audience, don’t do it, but if it does, automate it and save yourself time!
I offered design services long past when I wanted to stop offering them, because money. No good. I didn’t enjoy the work and that wasn’t fair to me or the clients. And while I still do some design for projects I’m really passionate about, outsourcing the design part of the project has made me much happier and opened up space for projects I want to work on!
Design – Having a professional design your branding, PDFs, or website will pay for itself. Nothing says amateur more than an unwillingness to invest in your first impression.
Development – Like investing in design is important, so is investing in a good developer; a beautiful website that doesn’t work correctly will scare customers off and make you look just as unprofessional as a poorly designed website. And if you’re a designer, offering sub-par development work will devalue your designs.
Admin tasks – Running a business is a LOT of work! There are so many little details to get bogged down in, at some point you may need to hire a VA (virtual assistant) to take over some of the work.
Sometimes it’s better just not to be involved at all, and to stop doing things entirely. This is when I like to refer clients to other sources. There’s no point in me being involved in a design project if there’s no development included, so I send clients to one of my trusted designers.
Services you don’t enjoy offering – There’s no rule that you have to keep offering a product or service that you no longer want to offer, even if it’s making you money. Sure, a few customers might be upset, but this is where you can offer them something new (and better, and that you enjoy offering), or refer them to someone else. Referrals are amazing. They make you, the client, and the person you referred the client to happy. Don’t feel guilty about no longer offering something; just offer customers a great alternative.
There are so many other things you can automate and outsource–this list barely even scratches the surface! There’s marketing, year-end accounting (which is another beast entirely from monthly bookkeeping, because taxes), contract writing, copy writing, project management, and a whole lot more!
Leave me a comment and let me know what you’re going to stop doing this year–and whether you’re going to automate, outsource, or refer the business elsewhere!