Owning your own company and working for yourself isn’t easy. In fact, it’s downright difficult. Any meeting planner who has made the jump into the world of independent ownership knows this. But most people starting out don’t even realize the amount of extra work and stress they’ll have to take on—extra work and stress that can turn you into your own worse boss. So how do you become the kind of boss you always wanted?
One of the most important things to do when working for yourself is to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Do you suck at accounting? It’s OK; most of us do. Find a great accountant (through a recommendation of a friend) and pay them to remove the headaches that come with finances from your business. Are you bad at doing sales? Most of us aren’t naturally good at selling things. You can find someone to help you do sales or invest in learning a few different techniques from experts (making sure to find a solution that works best for you and your business).
You might think saving a few bucks here and there and doing everything yourself is better for your business, but it’s actually not. Knowing your weaknesses and creating ways to overcome them will help you avoid stress and turmoil with your boss (you).
The next step in being a great boss is time management. Your time is, as they say, money. Even if you’re working for yourself, it’s important to establish your working schedule. Many people start their own businesses to could enjoy the flexibility, yet they end up working what feels like 14-16 hour days, as well as weekends and holidays.
To avoid overworking yourself and never feeling like you can step away from your business, you need to establish a schedule and boundaries. Without these two things, you’ll never feel like you’re getting ahead and you’ll always feel attached to email, your calendar and your work. Here’s an example schedule that works well for people who run their own businesses:
- 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.: Don’t check email, do actual work for your business
- 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.: Check email, put out fires, respond to requests
- 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Open time for calls or meetings
- 12:30 p.m. – 1 p.m.: Lunch
- 1 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Check email or social networks
- 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Do actual work for your business
- 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Check email, time for calls, etc.
This schedule works well and keeps you on task. Setting specific times for checking email (and then closing it) and phone calls will help you stay on task with getting other work done.
You may not have the flexibility to do so, but I don’t schedule calls on Fridays. I realized years ago it was silly of me to create a 5-day workweek and not use Fridays as a day to get caught up and get ahead.
One more note on time: If you do charge hourly rates for your business, break a month down into the amount of hours you actually need to work to run a profitable business. If you want to make $5,000 per month and you charge $100 per hour, you really only need to work 50 hours per month. That breaks down to just over 12 hours per week, or 2-3 billable hours per day. The more diligent you are with your time, the more efficient (and profitable) you can be with your work.
The last thing to do to ensure you’re being the best boss you can possibly be is to focus on prioritization. Along with time, you need to be intentional with how you prioritize your work and your daily to dos or task lists.
A simple way to prioritize your work is to break it down into smaller chunks. For example: If you’re trying to land a big client, don’t put “land big client” on a to do list. Instead, write down the individual steps. Those might look like this:
- Create client proposal.
- Send client proposal via email.
- Create and schedule follow up to initial client proposal email. (Did they respond or not, how does that affect the follow up?)
- Schedule client call or meeting.
- Have invoicing ready for client.
- Have final contract ready for client.
- If any fulfillment is needed, have partner or vendor setup.
- Celebrate new client!
Breaking to-do items into smaller tasks is one way to prioritize; the other way is to create weekly and monthly goals. Weekly goals should prioritize your tasks and monthly goals should help you build accountability for your to dos and tasks. For the example about landing a client, one of your monthly goals could be “land five clients.” Then, your weekly goals would reflect the smaller steps on how to land those clients.
A lot of things go into running your own company, and the last thing you want to do is get in your own way. Being your own boss is difficult, but if you create a solid foundation, you’ll never feel like you’re holding your business back or hindering its success.