If you told me two years ago that by taking a full time job, my business would become more streamlined, organized, AND profitable – I would have asked you who bought my business? But that is what became my reality. Taking a full time job forced me to reanalyze and restructure my business. I had to scale it down, and choose only the clients I really wanted to work with, and turn the rest away. I created a business model that I could do part time, and created streams of income I could earn while not working on my business. I created systems and automation to make it appear that I was available full time for clients, prospects, and my network, without actually sitting at my office. In other words, I had to get FOCUSED – and the art of focus is simply eliminating distractions.
The time I spend working on my business is a quarter of what it used to be, and amazingly, I quadrupled my income. Last year, was my most profitable year yet. Believe me, I was blown away too.
The best take away I got from this experience is the realization that I do not have to work so darn hard to get amazing results …. the words my Dad always said rang true “You have to work smarter, not harder.”
Here are the S.M.A.R.T guidelines I used to put my side-business into FOCUS that helped it become profitable, sustainable, and possible to manage on a part-time basis.
S- SCALE DOWN
Scaling down means to eliminate all activities that do not bring immediate return on investment to your business. For me, it meant scaling way back on my networking activities. I carefully examined the groups I belonged to and measured the results and referrals I had gained from each one. I dropped the ones that had yielded me nothing, and I suspended the ones I felt might be useful in the future. As the months went by, I went back and reviewed my results again. Scaling down might also mean cutting back on subscriptions, social media accounts, and time spent on volunteer or pro-bono activities.
M – MAP OUT YOUR GOALS
I actually wish M came before S in this acronym, because this step actually comes first. The number one tool I credit to my success is my Motivational Action Plan. It is what I study every day, and it helps me chart my course. It is where I store my Waypoints (the small goals that get me to my ultimate goal) and it is all tied together with the use of the Daily Compass. A Motivational Action Plan is essentially a ONE PAGE business plan that spells out where you are, where you are going, and the path you are going to take to get there. This is not a “one time and done” document – this is a piece of paper (or whiteboard, or chart) you look at every single day. Without my M.A.P and Daily Compass – I would have been lost. If you’d like to create a M.A.P for yourself – sign up for my Mapping Session.
A – AUTOMATE
The key to working full time and running your own business is being two places at once. Set your business phone’s voice mail to a message letting people know when to expect a call back from you. Utilize autoresponders on your email to give your customers realistic expectations on when you are available. Use mailing systems to communicate with your clients and keep them in the loop.
Schedule posts on social media so your business is being advertised even when you are on the clock for someone else.
Utilize online payment systems so your clients can pay you online and you don’t have to chase money or send invoices – automate everything you can! We live in such a great digital environment. Spend some time to build systems to do the work for you. If you need help in setting these systems up, hire a virtual assistant to get the ball rolling.
R – RESPECT
Your employer is counting on you to deliver on your promises and be dutiful in your responsibilities. Depending on your situation, you may need to check your employee handbook to make sure you are not breaking any company policies. If your business is in conflict with your employment, you many need to consider changing employers. If your employer feels you are moonlighting, stealing customers or proprietary information, it could cause big headaches for you down the road.
If you are not competing with your employer, depending on your relationship with him/her – it may be a good idea to sit down, and have a heart-to-heart. Reassure him/her that you will not infringe on company time – when you are on the clock, you are working for them, and you will respect the boundaries of other co-workers and company clients (don’t try to sell to your companies connections!) Never use the company resources (computer, phone, printers) for any personal business needs. Keep everything separate. Treat your employer as you would want to be treated.
It’s exhausting to hustle…. even more exhausting if you don’t see an end in sight. I was able to muster the energy and the drive to wake up at 5:00 am every morning, work on my business for 3-4 hours each morning, go to work – put in a 8, 9, sometimes 10 hour day, and come home and put a few more hours into my business because I told myself (and, luckily a very understanding employer) that it was temporary.
Your exit strategy needs to be the first part of your business plan that you write. You need to MAP out how long you will need to put long hours and energy to launch your business and what goals need to be reached before you can scale back or leave your employment. Sometimes, it’s not your intention to ever quit your job, and that is ok – but a plan still needs to be in place on how balance can be achieved, and you can take back your time.
This article is part of the #write31days challenge for October 2015. To catch up on the whole series – click HERE.
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