Every so often I get asked for advice on how to run a business or how I get all the things done. I can tell you that I don’t get all the things done. My lists are always at least twice as big as any human can get done but I try. You never know, today might be that day. I’ll talk about lists another day. If you want to get started on lists in the meantime, check out my post on The Bullet Journal. I still use this to make lists but I have changed it so I’ll talk about lists again and you can see why my journal looks like this:
Back to the subject at hand. Run your bizness like it’s a business.
I started my self employment life back in 1998 when I was doing pottery full time. There were things I learned in that business that immediately got implemented in this one. Some things that worked in that one that won’t work for me here. I’m going to make a list of sorts. Some of it might be helpful, some might not. I think one of the biggest, most important, and hardest things to run your business smoothly is to be very conscious of what’s working, what isn’t, and how to make changes. Or in the case of when things are working, how to keep them rolling. But that’s not even really what I’m talking about here.
Run your business like it’s a business.
If you want to have a hobby part time thing, run it like that. If you want to have a business, run it like a business. Hobby businesses are usually more fun that a business business. Also, running loosely might work for you. If it does, stick with it! Stick with what works. I’m only posting here for those that think what they’re currently doing isn’t working. Don’t change the things that work, only change the problem areas.
1. Have a boss. You can be that boss but if you’re the only person in your company, you’re the boss and employee. It can be a hard mix but at least part of the time, you need to be the boss. The one that sets the rules and speaks reason. You’ll see me at times complaining about “my boss”. That’s still me but it’s the inner me that sets the rules. It helps to complain about her sometimes because that’s what an employee does. Allow yourself the space to be both…and a little crazy if you need that.
2. Get dressed. PJs, workout gear, and lounge clothes signaled to me that I could quit whenever. I’m gonna pop into the “workmode” and then I can pop out whenever. Sometimes I would start out answering emails and then PJ town would take over and I’m having a grand ole time windowshopping on the internets. ooops. Maybe you can work just fine in your PJs, I am not one of those people. I have some outfits that are as comfy as PJs but they’re put away in the closet in the work pile and that’s what I wear them for. Silly? Maybe, this was one of the biggest lightbulb momments for me. I can’t stay at work if I’m in my lounge clothes.
3. Schedule your time. You don’t need to be super duper rigid but if you don’t schedule things at least somewhat, how do things happen? Regular businesses have a schedule. It can be flexible but there is a time to work and a time to play. I straddle the world between uber schedule and fly by the seat of my pants. There are things that I hate to schedule yet other things that I HAVE to or they don’t get done. Figure out what those are. Here’s mine:
Days: I have 4 days each week the shop is officially open. I teach private classes and make product on 2 others and I have 1 day off. That one day is a family day and can get bumped (meaning I don’t get a day off at all that week usually) if I’m doing a festival (teaching or vending). That’s right. This can mean there are periods of time that I might not get a day off for a month or more. It’s not my favorite but sometimes these things happen. Occasionally I actually take off one of the days that the shop isn’t open. Or part of it to run errands or do something with the kids. On those days I still have a set list of things that need to be completed before free time can happen. This means there is a little bit of flexibility in my schedule but not much. For me, this is how things get done.
Hours: My day starts at variable times (animals need some treatment, I need to make a grain run) but almost always by 10 and usually lasts at least until 4. Yes, there are times I’m a typical employee and I watch that clock move like molasses around the face until it hits 4 but I try to keep the work day, the work day. Of course, on days we’re open it’s a definite start at 10 and I’m here until 4. I added the qualifiers “almost” and “usually” up there so I’m not lying at any point but I can tell you that 99% of the time if it’s a work day when I’m not “away”, I’m here between 7 and 8 then staying until 4 or 5. And I work those hours. Why? Because I’m not in my PJs. I have times for social media, snacks, lunch etc but I try not to take too many or my day isn’t productive. We all have those days of course but if you have too many in a row when things need to get done….
Time off: I know I mentioned up there that I don’t always get time off. This is true. My vacations are usually 2 or 3 long weekends each year. I try to make sure to get those in. They get scheduled though because it means the shop will be closed and I will need to find someone to farm sit.
Type A: Sometimes, I like to schedule certain days to do things. ie – Monday is billing, Tuesday is dyeing, Wednesday is orders and prep, Thursday is batt day…. etc etc etc. Obviously those things may not fill up a whole day but sometimes it helps to put off an activity but also make sure it gets done by saying “I can put off doing bills this week if I make sure on Monday that I get it all done”. Don’t over schedule, though. I mean, you can schedule out your time really to a pin point if that works for you but be realistic. You know that dyeing is going to take you an hour to do – don’t schedule it for 30 minutes. You know you get into a groove making batts, don’t only give yourself an hour at the carder. Get the idea? Be realistic with yourself. If you’ve never scheduled before and you think it might help you, start out loosely and have “extra” tasks on a side bar that can fill in dead spaces. Write down the times that things take you so you get an idea of what you can reasonably fit in a day.
Yearly: I’ve gotten better at scheduling. It’s not my favorite thing to do but when I’m contracting out to teach and to vend places, I need to do this. I mess up sometimes but I try to keep everything organized to the best of my ability. I’ve been booking contracted dates into 2016. My 2015 has been filled for a bit now. This means my work days are pretty well filled in and also that my days off are pretty well set too. I’ll be hard pressed to find an extra full day off in my schedule. It might happen but there are times that get blocked up with what needs to be done.
I’m sure there are a whole bunch of things that I’m leaving off and my bullet journal is really important to me in getting things done. But remember, if you’re running a business and it’s not broke – don’t fix it! All my ideas that work for me, won’t work for you. It’s one of those things that’s pretty neat about being all different people. Maybe some of my ideas will help you figure out what works.