Is your business a business or a hobby? Maybe a little bit of both…
When I first started www.writeoncreative.com I was a bit of a hobbyist. Especially before I created strong boundaries, streamlined systems to manage my time and started getting more requests to connect than I could handle. With demand comes the realization that you must be laser focused.
Here’s what I mean by that. When I first started my business I spent A LOT of time at networking events, on the phone and meeting with people. Often these efforts were not as focused as they needed to be (although I was making great connections and having lots of fun). Being a people person, I know I spent way more time visiting and socializing than actually moving relationships forward in the true spirit of collaboration to reach my business goals (that reeks of hobbyist tendencies — wouldn’t you agree?). In order to successfully build relationships, maintain integrity and support our business goals we all reach a point where we have to change. That sometimes means that creating connections and building relationships need to be more structured (and that can cause some growing pains).
To be of true service, deliver exceptional value to my clients, maintain my focus and move the business forward I HAD to create strong boundaries and systems. AND I had to create these systems to free up my time so I can actually have a personal life, too (VERY IMPORTANT).
I’m going to share three ways I’ve streamlined my schedule to support business growth and it all starts with boundaries.
These boundaries and systems also help me provide higher value to my clients. And they are even more important since Social Media has entered the mix. When I started my business Social Media didn’t even exist. So, yes, I’ve been around for awhile. AND what I’ve found with Social Media is that it increases accessibility and connections while creating expectations that may not be realistic. Don’t get me wrong — I LOVE Social Media — The connections I make on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are priceless. BUT I don’t always have time to respond personally to all requests and I’m at a place in my business where impromptu calls are reserved for family, friends and trusted colleagues. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to connect or that I feel as if I’m “too important”.
It just means that my business has grown to the a point where I have to funnel these request through my online scheduling system so my team and I can manage the flow of information, connections and requests. If I had my way, I’d connect with people all day long…(although that wouldn’t help me reach my goals or get my client work done).
The growth of my business and implementation of systems is both a blessing and a curse. Technology is a blessing because it helps me streamline my schedule and time and it’s a curse because it really bothers people who want immediate access (I remember, at one point, feeling a little let down when I couldn’t immediately connect with certain people and had to connect via assistants, scheduling systems etc.).
As you continue to grow your business and replace your hobbyist approaches with professional systems to support you, you’ll likely feel some growing pains and you may even get some backlash (disappointment, hurt feelings etc). Ultimately you need to decide if your business is a business or hobby and how you’ll manage your time.
Here are three ways you can streamline your systems to support your business growth and manage your time.
1. Batch your time: For example, I conduct client calls and new connection calls on Tuesday and Thursday only. This information is clearly provided on my website contacts to help set expectations.
2. Set aside time to create and do your client work: For example, I set aside specific days for focused tasks like client work, writing and business development. I honor this commitment so I don’t get distracted and so that I can deliver what I’ve promised (remember your WORD is golden — you must keep it to maintain integrity).
3. Consider a scheduling system: For example, I use TimeTrade to manage my appointments and often my assistant will screen requests. This allows me to make the most of these connections including media request,speaking opportunities and more. Beware that some people will not like this structure and you’ll need to determine the best way to manage your time while realistically accommodating requests.
Are you treating your business like a business or a hobby? What can you do to streamline your systems and support your success?
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