When operating an online business as a solopreneur, there are a lot of moving parts and it can be hard to keep track. Especially when everything moves so fast, and often the most important parts are the not so fun ones like scheduling and finances. I wanted to share a few tips to help you get and stay organized.
Always Have Something To Take Notes
There is a good chance content creation is a large part of your business plan. If it’s not, it should be (why you need to start a blog). Whether it’s blog posts, YouTube videos, or podcasts, you should be providing your audience with some free value. The one thing I’ve learned about content creation is you never know when an idea will hit. My best ideas seem to appear when I’m in the shower, ten minutes from falling asleep or in a meeting at my day job. I always keep some way to take notes. You never know when you’ll get that idea for your first viral blog post or have a light bulb moment that solves an on boarding issue that has been keeping you up at night.
I believe you should have an electronic option and a paper one. Electronic is good because if you use something like Google Docs, it syncs to the cloud and is easy to pull up when you return to your computer. Paper is great in case your phone dies, or you want to write more than quick notes (even as a self-proclaimed texting pro, I know typing extensively on the phone can feel a bit limiting and slow). I have written entire blog posts in my purse notebook at the airport, a Chili’s and so many other places.
Workflow Is Life
I know, I know, systems aren’t sexy. But you know what is sexy? Free time and business owners who aren’t pulling their hair out while constantly reinventing the wheel. I mean it when I say workflows are life. You know how sometimes you’ll leave work and the next thing you know you’re home? It’s not that magic fairies waved their wands and your car ended up in the driveway. It’s just you do it so often you don’t have to think about it until an unusual situation like a major traffic jam or a detour. Your systems can be like that. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming you just need to sit down and identify the things you do on a regular basis.
Task: Blog posts with audio once a week
You can use a whiteboard or an app like asana or Trello to move items from step to step so you can do it in order and without worrying that you missed anything.Workflows don't have to be overwhelming you just need to sit down and identify. Click To Tweet
Your blog post workflow might look like this:
Afterwards, you may run through a different workflow for amplifying the post. You can check out my post publish checklist.
For client onboarding what is your process? How can you create workflows to make it as easy as possible to plug and play? A customer fills out an inquiry on your website then what? Do you email them when you see the email or is your CRM programmed to give them the next steps? Sitting down and mapping out the workflow may take some time to set up but when it’s done, it’s done.
Plus there are so many systems out there that make it easy to streamline the vital money making efforts required in your business.
If you don’t know where to start, learn how I can help you here. (workflow sales page)
Client Folders Are Key
If you work with clients or even certain brands on a regular basis folders are a must! I don’t mean those overstuffed accordion folders your mom kept all her bills in during the 90s. I mean digital, sharable and editable organized folders. Once again, Google has you covered. Google Drive makes it easy to create folders within folders and store all types of files. Your Google Drive might have a main folder and within it clients by name, inside the individual folder an email folder, a meeting notes folder, before and after photos folder, etc.
Clients folders help you CYA. Cover Your Ass! If something about your agreement is in dispute or a customer claims they didn’t give certain approvals you can easily locate, access and share any information to clear things up.Clients folders help you CYA. Cover Your Ass! Click To Tweet
Track Income and Expenses
Taxes are confusing enough without a plan to deal with them. Make it a habit to meticulously track every single scent that goes into and out of your business. You don’t need some uber complicated system to do it, spreadsheets work just fine, or you can invest in a system like Quickbooks.
Be In Sync
It’s not just the name of a band (I could help myself). While I am a huge believer in keeping one calendar to avoid confusion, I understand I can be undesirable.
What if you are working at a gym training clients by appointment while also trying to build your own wellness business on the side, the studio you work for may have no objections, but you would rather not cross streams. Or you don’t want to share your calendar with everyone on your team because your boss asking you how “that bachelorette party was last weekend,” you know you didn’t mention, but oh yeah… It was on your shared calendar.
I get it. What you do want to do is make sure you have a master calendar that is synced to all your calendars, so you don’t double book or forget anything important such as a client meeting, certification renewals or your mom’s birthday. Sync your calendar and check it twice.
If the previous tip was any indication, you might realize that I am a huge fan of planning. When you are working you need an end goal in sight. Videos, articles, guest posts and all that are great but they can’t get you anywhere if you don’t know where you want to go. By setting big goals and deciding what it is you’re trying to achieve. If you’re creating content, reaching out about guest posts you need to decide what it is you hope to accomplish with them and what the end goal is. Don’t spend your time now doing tasks just to make yourself feel productive if they aren’t building towards your long term goal.Don’t spend your time now doing tasks just to make yourself feel productive. Click To Tweet
The Cloud Is Your Friend
If you aren’t backing up your information, all I can say is, “Why not?!?” Stuff gets hacked. Systems crash. I advise backing up all your documents and work into a cloud program like Google Drive or Dropbox. At the most, you will be glad if your website or computer crashes. At the least, you’ll be able to free up space on your computer’s hard drive.
Make Passwords Simple
Nowadays you need a password for everything but the bathroom. This presents a problem, you don’t want to have all your passwords be identical, but you also don’t want to memorize 50 passwords.
There are a few ways to combat this. You can create a master list in a protected document, you could use a 3rd party app like Password or you could go old school and write them down in one place and keep it hidden somewhere private and safe.
Whatever it is you feel the most comfortable with, set it up and get it done. Looking for a post it notes for the super complicated password you created or always resetting them is not organized.
Schedule Everything You Can
You can’t schedule when your pipes will burst or when your boyfriend will break up with you. You can schedule when you will get stuff done. A big mistake a lot of people make is only scheduling due dates and appointments with other people. But you need to schedule a time to get stuff done. If you’re a solopreneur that means you’re wearing all the hats and are doing all of the things until you can hire someone else to help you with them. So make sure you put it on your calendar what you are doing and when.
Tuesday 6 pm Meeting with graphics department (you)
Tuesday 7 pm- Meeting with finance department (you)
Tuesday 8 pm- Meeting with editorial team (you)
You don’t have to schedule it like I did above with the “department meeting.” But maybe it will help you to get in the right headspace. These will probably be somewhat fluid and even subject to change, but you’re more likely to keep these appointments if they are organized and scheduled.
Have Boundaries In Place
Boundaries will be one of the biggest reasons you stay sane! You have to have boundaries around your time and projects.
- Boundaries with your clients, who want to reschedule a session at the last minute.
- Boundaries with your friends, who want you to blow off your blog for happy hour.
- Boundaries with your significant other, who wants you to sleep in when you have a webinar to prepare for.
- Boundaries with yourself, when you want to watch 2 hours of Netflix instead of working.
Setting boundaries doesn’t make you mean or unprofessional. In fact, setting boundaries makes you more professional and more organized.Setting boundaries makes you more professional and more organized. Click To Tweet
Think about it this way, if a store closes at 9:00 pm your clients wouldn’t break down the window at 9:30 because they really “need” something inside. So why would it be okay for them to break down the invisible but very real closed sign you have with your boundaries. If clients aren’t supposed to contact you after 9 pm, you have no obligation to reply before your next business day.
Where people find themselves in trouble is when they slightly bend the rules once and respond to that late email or allow a client to extend a due date then you are saying, “I know I said XYZ wasn’t allowed, but I’m doing it now so you can probably get me to do it again.”
I know you want to provide your clients with the best results and support their goals but you have to take care of yourself and boundaries are vital to making sure both of those things happen.
Now tell me: What is your favorite organization tip? What is the one thing you do to stay organized? What is your biggest obstacle? Tell me in the comments.