When I started my own business, I needed a plan. Not just a long-range plan but the daily grind plan. So often we can get caught up on strategic planning that the daily schedule gets lost. And as I’ve already talked about, I needed other people to help me succeed. It’s been nearly 10 years since I started, and it’s been a fantastic journey – but certainly not one I have done alone! One of the first things I did was ask advice of friends and family who had launched their own businesses. I talked with people from a wide variety of industries too – not just businesses similar to my own. There is always something to learn from those around you. The best advice will come from those who aren’t afraid to tell you about their failures too. One man told me to always check the news as you start each day because you don’t want to start calling the blizzardy east coast from sunny California and ask a client if they’ve had time to sign a contract when they don’t even have power! He learned that the hard way! An author told me she writes at night. After leaving her 9-to-5er, she was stuck in this idea that she had to have office hours once she was self-employed. But that’s not when she was feeling most creative and energetic. Another friend of mine finds herself hitting a wall about 2pm so she saves non-creative duties like invoicing and bookkeeping for the afternoon and saves her design work for the morning. I also learned what worked for me and what didn’t. I had one person tell me to never bill hourly. Another told me to never bill by the project. So, I tried both and picked what worked best for me, my time and my business day. I spoke with a business owner who told me to always build in time to answer emails or calls from your client because it takes up time. Someone else told me to set a calendar reminder once a week to back up all my files because I wouldn’t be working for a big corporation that had server space any more. Let me also add, that this asking the pros in your personal life too is important! Leaving the workplace to start a family? Great! Finding your daily routine is critical! Taking on a new community project? Talk to the previous committee member, talk to a friend on an HOA board, talk to a parent. So, as you embark on your new adventure, talk to the experts. Make a list of people who can help you – from all walks of life. Here’s four easy things you can do this week to get yourself started in daily pro-planning:
- Be teachable. This includes the fine art of listening. A long-lost art, for sure. Where you agree or disagree, listen. There may be a nugget of wisdom in there for you now, or down the road when you face a decision point. Or at least you’ll know what you don’t want to do! I didn’t agree with every piece of advice I was given – but I absorbed it all and used it in some way (including in this blog!)
- Be humble. Don’t enter the conversation to argue or to show how much you know. This is not the time for sales – it’s a time for learning. Sometimes insecurities can make you defensive which limits your ability to really hear what the other person is sharing (see #1!)
- Be thankful. One thing none of us have – no matter who we are or how successful we’ve become – is more time! Be respectful of their time and thankful. Business owners are always crunched for time because they ARE their business. So, send a thank you or a gift or buy the coffee when you meet.
- Be reasonable. When a friend of mine first started out, she told her accountant she would probably only make $5k for the rest of the year. It was already June and she had made 10 times that amount! She was fearful of overestimating, but she wasn’t being reasonable. On the opposite side of the spectrum, don’t put such enormous pressure on yourself that you’re killing your energy to reach an unrealistic goal! This is where appropriate planning comes in. If you haven’t read that blog, click here.
Most people want to help you be successful and will share their experiences with you. You need to be humble enough to ask and open enough to listen. Then pick what works for you. Even to this day I ask pros for help – people who have more experience than I do in a certain area. And guess what? I’m someone’s expert too in a different area! You wouldn’t ask me how to do open heart surgery or even how to lay tile – you’d ask a pro! So, go do it!