Creative business owners: join me to shape up our businesses! I have written an eight part series that will help you:
- Increase efficiency and focus,
- Enjoy your work more,
- Reach your goals,
- Learn to quit trying to do every darn thing that goes into running a business yourself!
Getting help with your business when you have limited time
I have two young boys who threw a bomb in my work schedule by being born. While they both get out of the house for a while each day, it doesn’t translate to a huge amount of work time for me. For most of the last year, I was getting 5-6 hours to work each day. There are things I have to do during my “work time” that are not work, or my work-life balance gets all messed up. You know, like eating lunch, buying groceries, tidying the house.
It turns out I can run a business on five hours a day, but I absolutely cannot run a business by myself on five hours a day.
Would you like to get some help?
Help could be hiring full time employees. Help could be outsourcing a business task (tax prep? website building?). Help could be purchasing software to automate something (shipping labels? invoicing?).
The best foundation for getting help is to decide what your ideal role should be. Then you can consider how to take care of the things that may not be the best fit for you.
Evaluating your responsibilities
Here is a wonderful exercise that I’ve gone through at two different business events. Each time it’s made a huge difference to my business.
Below is how I organized my worksheet from Kym Ventola’s talk at the Dream Rock retreat (more from Kym in a future post!). In the months since February, I’ve made serious progress on delegating nine out of the 15 responsibilites I’d quickly written down. Checked boxes are all things I’m getting help with now! Some of these things I’m still doing, but getting assistance with, and some I’ve delegated completely to someone else.
Download our printable document for an easy start on this. You can get that by subscribing to our mailing list. Here is all you do:
1) Write a list of ALL your everyday responsibilities.
These should be both business and personal responsibilities. So, all the tasks for your work, but also home, family, and life. Maybe if someone else picked up the groceries, you could manage your social media. Maybe if you hired a bookkeeper, you’d have time to cook a family meal some nights.
It helps to sit down with a notebook and brainstorm. Then hold onto that list for a day or a week, adding to it as you work and you realize what you left out.
2) Figure out which you should keep.
For each of your responsibilities, determine: Do you want to do it? Do you have time for it? Just put a yes or no in each of those two columns next to the task.
3) Make a plan to get help.
You should keep all the things with two Yeses, and get help with all the things with two Nos. The Yes/No items you’ll consider. You may have freed up time for them. You may let them be someone else’s responsibility so you can stick to your best work.
We are going to talk much more in future blog posts about how to get help, and where to get help. This is a lot to think about, so for today, we’re just going to lay the groundwork. You don’t need to think yet about who or what could help you with these tasks.
Choosing your ideal responsibilities
You’ve probably heard before that as business owners, we should be working on our business (making improvements, propelling it forward), not in our business (day to day work, reactive work).
For many of us, our actual responsibilities list looks nothing like what we would choose for ourselves. I have good news for you, though. If you run a creative business, and you’re the boss of yourself, you do get to sit down and choose.
With hundreds of things on your to-do list, how do you decide what to do each day? First, you have to know what you’re bringing to your business that makes it what it is. What things do you do that make you irreplaceable? These are the things that you shouldn’t delegate.
Many of us are designers. It’s important to keep the design style and voice that customers have fallen in love with. So you will likely want to keep your role as creative director, if not creator. But maybe not! I began as a graphic designer, but don’t do that at all now. I found that as we shifted into being a larger company, my most important contribution isn’t design. Instead it is my passion for helping creative entrepreneurs, and my voice and vision for Aeolidia.
To begin my latest phase of focus and delegation, I made myself a list. This is my role and irreplaceable contributions. I can look to this whenever I have a task to do, to decide if I should do it, or if I should delegate it. I have been calling this “CEO Mode” to myself.
Arianne’s role and talents:
- Ideas and improvements, but let others put them in motion.
- Outreach, but let others help with the day-to-day marketing.
- Problem solving, but teach and encourage self-reliance as I help.
The second half of each sentence, beginning with “but” is important for me. I tend to throw myself wholeheartedly into every aspect of a project. It reminds me that this only works well if I direct, but stay out of the detailed tasks. These “buts” guard against accidentally slipping into working in my business instead of on it.
Applying your ideal responsibilities
Now that you have your list of the things that you’re best at, those that are important for you personally to do, how can you stay on track?
Compare the list that defines your role with the list of responsibilities you’ll keep. Do those responsibilities still make sense, or does this help you see that there may be even more you should get help with?
As new tasks come along each day, take a look at your role and ask yourself if this is something only you can do, or if it’s something you could get some help with.
- Brainstorm ALL your responsibilities on a big piece of paper.
- For each responsibility, determine if you want to do it, and if you have time.
- From what you’ve learned, write a list of your irreplaceable contributions and determine your role.
- Double check the responsibility list and see if it matches with your role.
Ready, set go!