Round and round and round and round. Every day is starting to look the same. There’s money coming in, but just enough to keep the train running. Meanwhile, you are doing, doing, doing and there is no end in sight.
Welcome to the Hamster Wheel.
In some ways, it’s a relief to know that your product is in demand, or that your services are attracting clients. It’s better than those start-up days when you weren’t even sure you had something of real value to offer….right?
Not really. You had a job that was a daily grind, remember? You took a big gamble to start your own business because you already decided that the Hamster Wheel wasn’t how you wanted to live your life.
So, what’s the secret to getting off the Hamster Wheel and becoming a true CEO? Systems.
What’s a System?
A system is nothing more than a set of procedures, methods, or processes that take the thinking out of the regular tasks that keep your business running. Systems make you more efficient by reducing redundancy, automating certain work, as well as allowing you to hand off those tasks to someone else.
You can’t get off the Hamster Wheel by just not doing the work that needs doing. Obviously, your biz can’t run on wishes. But you CAN get off that wheel by making some changes to your overall processes. In other words, you need to build systems.
First, Identify Repetitive Tasks
It is time to set aside some time to sit back and look at the repetitive work you are doing every day (or once a week) to keep your business running. These are the tasks that are going to be ripe for applying systems to make your work more efficient, or to get them off your plate altogether.
Take a moment to think through your day (week) and make a list. Here are a few examples of what these kinds of tasks might look like:
- Taking weekly inventory and ordering supplies
- Answering questions from customers, often the same queries over and over
- Posting a weekly blog and associated social media advertising
- Lead generation tasks such as approaching local businesses about your corporate training program
- Daily, weekly, and monthly bookkeeping
- Client scheduling
The list goes on (and on and on). What does your list look like?
Take a look over the list you have made. Are there tasks that you are simply doing out of habit that really are not adding value to your business?
For example, maybe you have been spending a few hours a week messing around on Pinterest without much luck generating leads. On the other hand, you get plenty of conversions from your Instagram marketing. Maybe it’s time to cut your losses on Pinterest and free up your schedule in the process.
Another way to potentially eliminate tasks is to find ways to do an action once and for all, instead of 5 times a day. For example, say your customers keep asking you the same question about your product. Instead of answering it over and over, take 5 minutes to include the answer prominently in your product description.
I get it. Technology can be intimidating. You may need to face some anxiety and fear here – but the benefits are worth it.
There are a myriad of apps and programs out there which can save you time with everything from lead generation to inventory management. Many of them are free or come at a very low cost. In addition, they tend to be designed to be easy to use.
A few examples:
Constant Contact. This is a tool that helps you streamline your marketing efforts by merging your email, social media, and other lead generation platforms. You can do the work once, and it will blast your effort across all of your platforms. Plus, it will track your conversions to help you craft more effective campaigns in the future.
Less work for more impact…now that’s efficiency!
Google Drive: These days, Google is much more than a search engine. In fact, Google offers cloud-based technology that allows you to easily work collaboratively with others and sync your work up across platforms. Oh, and it’s free.
You can store files on Google Drive and invite others to collaborate – great for content creation. You can easily create a calendar and assign tasks to your team – great for working with freelancers. And, that’s just scratching the surface.
Sure, there is a learning curve with anything new. But these days there’s a Youtube video on just about everything. You got this!
Another way to automate tasks? Templates.
Do you find that some of your emails and other correspondence involve typing most of the same content over and over? That’s where templates come in.
Stop reinventing the wheel every time you send a thank you note to a new client. Instead, develop the basic text with some wiggle room to customize each thank you for that personal touch. Then most of your work is done with a simple copy and paste.
Here are some examples where templates really come in handy:
- Your professional bio in short, medium and long forms
- Emails for repetitive tasks such as invoicing, thank yous, lead generation, etc.
- Infographics and other design elements, in your brand’s colors, for use in various types of online content
- Advertising campaigns – Trust me, your customers won’t remember if you used the same image in a post from 6 months ago
PRO TIP: Keep all of your templates clearly labeled and in the same folder so you can find them in a snap when you need them.
I have said it before, and I will say it again: You can’t scale your business without a team.
What’s left on your list? Let me guess: A bunch of repetitive tasks you are not ready to let go of. Maybe it’s because you think no one else can do it right, or maybe it’s because you think you can’t afford to hire someone.
Either way, refusing to delegate will keep you on the Hamster Wheel. Period.
Think about how much time it would take you to train someone to do a specific repetitive task in order to get it off your plate. That small investment of your time upfront will lead to huge time savings in the long run. With the extra time you can actually start getting more of the strategic decision making done…you know…that stuff a true CEO does?
Think you can’t afford it? When it comes to growing your biz, you can’t afford not to!
Is it Time for a Coach?
Since you can’t scale your biz while you’re stuck drowning in the day to day operations of your business, you absolutely must get off the Hamster Wheel.
If you can’t seem to do it on your own, it’s a sure sign that you need another set of eyes on your business.
We all develop blind spots. If you have been solopreneuring for a while, you may have even accidentally created systems that are working to keep you locked into the daily grind. It may be time to get someone to take an objective look at your biz and identify the best ways to streamline it.
Every day you waste in the grind is a day you could have been growing your biz. Consider booking a Mini-Intensive with me today.