Dawn At Your Service’s Blog

Time Management Tips for the Growing Business

A growing business can be both exciting and stressful for the owner. Here are some time saving tips to help things run a little smoother.
(These tips may not apply to all businesses.)

Scheduling

Be realistic about turn over time and don’t stretch yourself too thin. When juggling multiple projects, it is better to tell your clients that you will have their assignment(s) completed in 7 days and get it to them in 3, rather then telling them it will be completed in 3 days and getting it to them in 7. It is important for your clients to understand that they are not your only client. They are business owners themselves and should understand that ALL client assignments are a priority and each deserves equal attention. Granted some clients are more laid back than others. But that should not be a factor. Each client is valued equally and should be treated the same way. Hopefully your clients respect you enough to understand that.

Prioritize Time

Most people have certain times in the day when their energy levels and focus are high. Tasks that require the most concentration should be scheduled during those periods. Save the tedious and repetitious tasks that you could do in your sleep for the periods of time throughout the day when you feel like you’re hitting the wall.

For example, I feel my most creative and focused in the morning after I’ve had my cup of coffee and energy friendly breakfast. Assignments that require a lot of thought and concentration are usually attended to at this time. If I wait until later in the day when my brain is fuzzy and my eyes start to hurt from staring at the computer all day, it will take me twice as long to accomplish the task.

Consolidate Tasks

Multi-tasking comes natural to me and consolidating tasks is a tactic I have practiced in every career I have ever been in.

Kill 2 birds with one stone. If you have different clients with similar tasks, working on them in bundles can be time efficient. For instance, if you have images to scale for multiple clients, do them all at once. (Hopefully you have a convenient time tracking tool like myhours so you can keep it up in a separate window and track how long you spend on each client.) Rather then opening and closing your image manipulation program and document files several times, open them up, scale all of the images and BAM, you’re done. Although it may only save you a few minutes, every minute counts.

This is also a big help for me when I submit to website directories, create networking profiles or submit articles. This tactic works best for niche specific businesses.

Another example for consolidating tasks is when you write an informational e-mail or forum post, use an elaborated version for a blog post, newsletter or article. Chance are if one person was interested in the information, others are too. This is a good way to consolidate some of your marketing strategies, saving time and creative energy.

Avoid Distractions

Turn off the Television. Just having it on in the background causes your brain to work harder and sucks a little juice from where you need it most; whether is be reading, logic, artistic etc…

Turn the telephone ringer off. OK, this may not be applicable when you’re trying to run a business so rely on your caller i.d. Save conversation with chatty girlfriends for your free time. My friends know that I’m not trying to be rude when I don’t answer their calls during the day. I’m working and my boss prohibits personal phone calls. 😉

Close out your E-mail. Check e-mail at specific times of the day and keep out! E-mail is a big time distraction for many business owners! We can get lost in it all day long and wonder where in the world the day went. Luckily for me, I don’t have a problem closing Outlook. I have to or I won’t get my work done.

Shut down TweetDeck. Twitter can be extremely distracting. Allow certain times of the day for “play” or as we call it….marketing. Let your brain focus on one thing at a time. All of that beeping from TweetDeck compels us to check if we missed something and can cause quick and easy tasks to drag on for hours.

Outsource

Micro business owners often see slim to no profit in the beginning stages of ownership. We are excited to start rolling in the dough and the idea of outsourcing  feels undesirable. But the important thing to remember is customer loyalty grows our businesses. If we provide efficiency, reliability and excellent customer service, our clients will not only give us more business in the future, but refer us to their friends, family and colleagues. When we take on more work then we should manage, our stress bleeds through correspondence, we fall behind on response time, deadlines and often make mistakes. Outsourcing is an investment. It costs money to make money. And the highlight of outsourcing is it’s only necessary during high peek times. We won’t be crazy busy all of the time. And our chances of experiencing lulls will reduce if we take good care of our clients, even if it means sacrificing a little profit from time to time.

Eat Energy/Focus Food Frequently

Yes, this is actually coming out of my mouth! The reason why is because it works! When you’re blood sugar starts to drop, fatigue increases and concentration plummets resulting in tasks taking much longer then normal. Focus and energy result in higher productivity.

The energy food theory is accurate and has worked wonders for me by eliminating crashes throughout the day. Reducing coffee has also helped reduce headaches and energy crashes. Balanced meals and snacks work well. I need protein combined with carbs or I feel very sleepy. I snack on granolla bars, yogurt with nuts and granolla, crackers and peanut butter, and string cheese wrapped in ham or Turkey. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids also improve energy and concentration. Everyone’s body is different so it’s important to decipher what works best for you.

To learn more about energy boosting foods, click here.

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Business Management, Time Management | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Marketing Pie

I am a big fan of Fabienne Fredirickson and The Client Attraction System. She was my marketing inspiration at the birth of my business. Her model teaches to choose eight marketing strategies, start with a few and slowly integrate the additional strategies. Assess through trial and error what works best for your business. Ultimately this is a great plan. Unfortunately, I am one person running a micro-business with next to nothing for a marketing budget, let alone outsourcing. I am the business operations manager, bookkeeper, marketing director, web designer, client relations manager, janitor, supplies delivery person and being a service based business, I have services to deliver.

Being the rookie that I was, I followed Fabienne’s recommendation and chose eight pieces with the intent of starting off with a few. I started with forum participation, direct mail and website directory submissions. Before I knew it I was posting classifieds, article marketing, social networking and blogging.  I still have newsletters untouched. My eagerness led me to just about devour that pie in a year! I don’t think that is quite what she meant by starting with a few, assess the return and add more in. Perhaps I should have spent the money on the full program!

Needless to say, I have learned a very big lesson about marketing! Time is money! I need to focus on what I am best at that I can accomplish in the least amount of time, that will give me the most in return.

I am not a good writer. (SURPRISE!!!) It takes me a really long time to write. I struggle with translating my feelings into words. I always read, edit, reread, edit again and continue until I’m satisfied. This is the reason I don’t offer content writing as a service. (I offer a ton of services, buy copy is not one of them!) I don’t mind blogging because I feel it builds credibility and is worth my time for several reasons. I can be who I am and if I misspell a word, oops, I’m human and I make mistakes. I don’t feel pressured. I am honestly not trying to impress anyone here. I think it is very important for any potential clients to know who I truly am, what I believe in and what I’m knowledgeable about. I feel that being just who I am is valuable to other small business owners. I would hope that someone considering my services would be able to determine if we would be the right fit for each other by reading through my posts. It will save us both a lot of grief! With that being said, yes it is worth the 1-2 hours it takes me per post, per week. LOL

I am a total social butterfly. I make friends everywhere I go. My family finds it annoying  that I’ve befriended the Dunkin Doughnuts worker, the gas station clerk, lifeguards, etc. It’s who I am and who I’ve always been. I really believe that somewhere across my head it says, “tell me your life story” because sometimes strangers will just walk up to me and start telling me their life stories. I am a people magnet. Maybe because I listen, I respond and I care. This is the gift I’ve been blessed with.

After evaluating what I am good at and not so good at, I have discovered which marketing methods are most beneficial for me. Anything “social” is worth my time and I love it! I enjoy talking to other people, learning about them and their lives. I love learning about other cultures and ways of life in distant places. I find great reward in sharing knowledge and experiences. None of it feels like work and I am good at it. So I’m on a marketing pie diet (cheesy joke-sorry. lol). Until I can afford to outsource, I am cutting out the marketing strategies that deeply involve writing (excluding blogging) and focusing on anything that starts with “social”.

MARKETING TIP: If you’re a micro-business owner without a marketing budget, practice marketing tactics that are right for you. Don’t scatter yourself all over the board. Choose marketing stratagies that compliment your talents.

May 1, 2009 Posted by | Business Development, Marketing | , , , | Leave a comment