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You did it! You decided to go full time on your online business. Now you can dedicate all your time to this new adventure. There’s just one problem: you spend your day watching YouTube videos and buying online courses on how to run your online business and you’re not getting any work done on your actual business. What’s going on?
This is an easy trap to fall into. You want your business to succeed, so you want to learn as much as possible so that you do it “right” the first time. So gathering information seems to be the right way to go. But it’s not.
You have to STOP. Right now, stop. And follow these strategies on what to do and not do in order to get the ball rolling and pushing your business forward.
What to do
Pick the most important thing
Write down the 3 most important things that need to be done for your business right now, then pick the most important of all.
What qualifies a task as “important”? If it will bring in money to your business or help your business grow.
For me, as a blogger, the most important thing is getting those posts written. Yet here I am making two online courses and writing an ebook.
Sit down and think about these tasks. You want your business to succeed, and this is the only way to make that happen.
Work on 1 project at a time
If you are a creator, your mind is always twirling with ideas for this product or this new blog. I think it’s called shiny object syndrome. It’s normal that once you set up your business and have to do some of the boring tasks other new ideas will be there, tempting you.
Those ideas can be profitable, and should be made. But right now you are building this particular business.
You can buy a fancy notebook and every time an idea of a business, product or project comes along you write it in there with the details so you don’t forget it. That way, when your business has started making headway and you are no longer required to work full time on it (most of it can be automated), you can go find a shiny idea to work on. Sometimes the ideas might have lost their brightness and you can let go of them, but your next big product can also come from your idea notebook.
If you’d rather go digital, make a folder on your computer called “ideas” and write the specifications for each idea on a document. One document per idea.
Make things as simple as possible
You might thing you need to know #allofthethings in order to run an online business successfully but that’s not the case (check out my article “Do You Need To Learn #Allofthethings In Order To Start An Online Business?” to read more about this).
I really love Tim Ferris’s question: What would this look like if it were easy? You should take it to heart and simplify, simplify, simplify.
If you are a blogger that means focus on content (writing and SEO), if you are a podcaster it might mean putting more effort into your outreach to bring in more quality interviews to your listeners.
The human brain is a complex machine, I won’t deny that. But why make things more difficult when you can simplify and allow yourself time to grow your business properly.
If you are just starting your business, I might recommend not outsourcing just yet. You need to learn and put your own processes into play and then you can train someone to do them. They are called SOP’s (standard operating procedures) and once they are in place it’s easier to delegate tasks.
Track your time
Tracking the time you work on your business is good for a couple of reasons. One of them is knowing how much time you have invested in the business. The other one is as a way to plan your strategy for upcoming months.
Once you know how much it takes you to make that course or write that ebook you are better able to predict your future output. Not all products are the same but having a general idea of how much time you’ll need to spend will help you strategize a launch or seasonal offerings.
I find it really satisfying to see how much time I’ve dedicated to an activity during the year. I once did it with beading and the results were fantastic. In that year I beaded for 637 hours and made 22 pieces of jewelry.To show it off I created an album with every piece of jewelry I made that year.
What not to do
Don’t try to do everything at once
If you head feels like it’s about to explode or that adding one more task to your to do list is going to drive you insane it’s clear you’re trying to do everything at once.
Why wouldn’t you try to do this? It’s what’s expected and what’s needed to grow a business. But the ideal is not for you to go insane running that business but creating a business you love to work in and that gives you freedom. That’s why we are all doing this.
So check back into tip #1 on what you should do: pick one thing. I’d suggest doing it 80% of the time because there are always little things that need to be done in a business that you can’t get out of, but at least dedicate the majority of that time to “one thing” that helps your business succeed.
Don’t create endless to do lists
Love striking out those items on your to do/pending list? Enjoy seeing how much you’ve finished in one week or one month?
What if your task list starts getting a little too long and your tasks are so complicated you’re never able to finish them in a timely manner?
Don’t get stuck with one “firm” to do list. I have steno book that I use to write notes and every couple of weeks I start a new to do list with a new date. I take the most important things in the previous list in the book and add those first. Then I reevaluate the other tasks on the previous lists to see if it’s something I can finish in a week or two. If not, I leave it and bring some other task that is also important but more achievable in that span of time.
I only put in as many tasks as fit in one page. That is around 11 items and I don’t expect to do them all before I start my new list in a couple of weeks. New things always come up and become urgent.
Don’t set unrealistic goals
Have you ever been asked to give an approximation of time that a project will take to finish at work? How many times have you come up short?
When I was building websites for a living I’d always say 3 months to give myself time in case there were any snags. Turns out it always took 4-6 months to get the project out the door and it meant I was losing money.
Every time your projections are wrong you stand to lose money. That’s why tip #4 above “Track your time” is so important. Only experience and time tracking will help you get an accurate number on what a specific task will take. Based on that you can organize yourself and be able to make a profit.
This applies to tasks that don’t make money as well. Don’t expect to have 100 subscribers the first month of your blogging business. Google doesn’t work that fast and no one will be visiting yet, much less subscribing.
Don’t forget about self care
You are now working full time on your online business. Time is your most valuable asset and you need to spend it wisely. It’s easy to set aside things like rest, relaxation, exercise and relationships with family and friends.
What you are doing, building your business, is really important. But you are at the center of it all and if you don’t take care of yourself your business will flounder and fail. You might be able to push yourself for a while but there is only so much the body can take.
Don’t disregard the benefits of a balanced life. It’s very difficult to achieve but you must try to care for your wellbeing.
There are certain limits you can follow, like not working on the weekends or hanging out with friends and family once a week. At first it will be a chore because you want to be working on that business, but you will come to realize having flexibility in your schedule is one of the perks of being self employed.
I have just been going through this issue in the past few weeks and I’m slowly coming out of it, making changes one piece at a time.
We start these online businesses because the ideas overflowing our brains make us so energized we want to take action and keep taking action. However there are always tasks that are not so exciting that also have to be done and our motivation fizzles.
Having a good life-work balance is crucial in helping you stay focused on the most important thing, “Living your best life”.