Workflows & Processes

How to Run Your Business So It Stops Running You

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‘Being your own boss’ and ‘more money’ are the most popular reasons to start your own business. While your profits depend on the industry, the idea of doing things your way is very powerful when becoming a small business owner. The drive and determination to run your business your way is a great starting off point.

However, often enough, we get caught up completely in daily tasks. Something I call the ‘too-many-hats-syndrome’! But it’s crucial to focus and concentrate so that you run your business – not the other way around. Being passionate about your work is a wonderful thing. But when that passion spirals and causes you to lose out on any semblance of work/life balance, it’s a problem!

Self-Employed Stress

Let’s face it – there is virtually no job in the world that is entirely stress-free. However, when you run your own business, and there’s no-one to share the load, that stress can grow. Trying to juggle it all can cause both mental and physical symptoms, and can ultimately lead to burnout. No matter how much you love your work, it just isn’t worth that!

And besides – if you fly entirely solo and burn yourself out, who is going to be there to take the reigns while you get back on track?

Here are a few strategies that can help you stay on top of things and run your business efficiently.

Take stock

The first step to keep things in your company under control is to identify the biggest time sinks. This could be a recurring task that sucks away hours of your life over and over again, or your procrastinating that sets in every time you have to do your accounting. Start a list or if you don’t know where your time goes, start using a time tracker (Paymo, for example, has a free version and is easy to use).

Next, start a list of tasks you really don’t like doing, and another of the ones you thoroughly enjoy. Really take the time to work out what tasks put a smile on your face, and what you want to run in the opposite direction of! Then have a look at your goals and what needs to be done to get your business to the next level. Keep in mind: running the business smoothly is as important as constantly improving and evolving.

Struggling to identify what your business goals are? Here’s some help for your goal setting.

Strategy 1: Delegate

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This is the obvious step to take when you feel like work is taking over your life. As David Ogilvy once said: “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it.” It can be tempting to hold on tightly to control of every aspect of your business. Realistically though, you have neither the time nor the expertise to efficiently work on every area alone!

So if you don’t like accounting, find an accountant and use the newly gained time for the greater good: running your business! And follow Ogilvy’s advice and forget about micromanaging. Let them do their job – hovering over them defeats the purpose. Trust me, the freedom you will feel when you see those areas flourishing while you focus elsewhere is absolutely worth it!

As a business owner, it’s common to put a lot of pressure on yourself to handle it all. “Being the boss” might be the incentive at the start, but that can quickly become draining! Learn to see delegating as a positive – your business is growing and you need more hands on deck.

Strategy 2: Optimise

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Streamlining your business processes is absolutely vital to your business’s success. Are your workflows sound? Look for ways to optimise routine jobs and make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible while saving time for everyone involved. Implement a better time management for your team or start using an editorial calendar for your social media marketing and content strategy. The difference this organisation will make is incredible.

As it is sometimes hard to see clearly when it comes to your own business, it might be useful to get help from the outside for this. Get a fresh pair of eyes in and the opinion of someone who’s not involved.

Struggling with a content plan? Here are my tips for creating an effective content calendar!

Strategy 3: Tools

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The progress of technology has had many beneficial effects, especially for small business owners. There are so many apps and tools out there, as well as software, to help you regain control. It can be unbelievably exciting to discover what is available, but don’t rush into the first app you come across!

It can take time to choose the right tools for your needs and you might even have to hire someone to design a tailor-made database for your workflow. But I promise you it will make a huge difference and save a lot of your and your staff’s time that you can use to plan the next step.

From design apps like Canva, to social media schedulers including SocialBee and project managers like Trello, there is something for everyone. Utilise these platforms to save you time, boost your confidence and help you run your business like the pro you are!

Check out this list of my favourite small business and marketing tools!

Strategy 4: Invest

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I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice – to achieve your goals and make the best of your business, you will have to invest. You will have to scale your business, think ahead, trust others and take a leap of faith. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s the only way to make all your work, time and efforts worth your while!

It can be scary spending money when the results are uncertain. But the truth is, your business will struggle to grow without it. Have a chat with your accountant and set yourself a realistic budget for marketing, tools and apps and outsourcing. Keep track of your spending and your results. And remember it’s not just about profit – the difference made to your wellbeing is important here too!

How about you?

To run your business efficiently, you need to get organised – but it’s so worth it! What do you do to take a step back and make sure your goals aren’t swept away by the daily routine of your business? Have you successfully freed yourself from the daily grind?


If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
10 Things I’ve Learned by Running My Own Business
Who Should I Call? 12 Design and Marketing Job Definitions
How to Avoid Social Media Overwhelm as a Small Business Owner
Let Your SmallBusiness Work Smarter, Not Harder

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.