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How to control your business vs. letting it control you

Is your business running you? Perhaps you find yourself at the mercy of your to-do list rather than feeling in control. It’s usually a sign that your business is growing (a great thing!) but here’s how to control your business again and take back your time. 

Confident business owner in control of her business

You dread opening your laptop in the morning because you already know there’s a full inbox waiting for you and endless admin work. When did running a business get so far from your core passion? If this is you, it means you’re likely running a successful business. You just might not have full control over your time like you used to. 

As our independent businesses grow, so too does the workload and it gets more difficult to retain autonomy as a business owner. In fact, 72% of small business owners typically feel overwhelmed. Especially if you manage a team, you’re probably always pulled in different directions. What you need is the flexibility to choose how you spend your time, not have it dictated to you. 

It’s time to learn how to control your business again rather than letting it control you! It’s not only possible, it can even help you grow your business faster and more efficiently than before.  

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Identify your primary goals and objectives

The first step to having more control over your business is determining what you want to accomplish with your control. 

Identify the goals that are your biggest priorities, like: 

  • Generating x new leads per month
  • Grow your revenue by x percent
  • Booking x new projects per month, or booking x of your ideal clients per month

Once you have those goals identified, you can determine the objectives needed to reach them. For example, if you’re hoping to book more projects each month, that means you need to focus more on your sales and booking process. These are your “north star” objectives where you should be most present in your business. 

Determine where you’re wasting time

Time is the only resource you can’t get more of. Even if your business is making more money, you can’t buy extra time. You have 24 hours every day, and it’s up to you to maximize it–which is why it’s one of the most valuable resources for every business owner to protect. 

Consider where you’re currently spending most of your time where you don’t need to be. Right now, you’re probably spending a lot of time on tasks that don’t align with your primary goals. 

Tasks like responding to inquiries, vetting leads, onboarding clients, and even managing your marketing might not be the best tasks for your skills and talent. Are there other team members who can take on that work so you can focus on your priority goals instead?

Even if you’re not ready to bring on a full team right now, a contractor could be a huge help. 

Pro Tip:  Try tracking your time for a week to fully understand how it’s spent. All you need is a time tracker that you can turn on and off every time you switch a task. At the end of the week, you’ll have an accurate picture of which tasks are controlling your time, so you know what needs to be changed.

Automate and streamline where you can 

Did you know only 4% of businesses track and manage their processes? That means there’s so much space left for optimizing. If you’re a team of one, there’s plenty you can take off your plate with automation and more streamlined processes. 

For example, you don’t need to personally reach out to every new inquiry. At that stage, you don’t know if they’re a good fit yet. Before you’re sure they’re a qualified lead, you can automate the process of evaluating customer fit

Set up an automation with a thank you email and a set of background questions that gets sent to every new inquiry. They’ll still feel nurtured by your business with a prompt response, and you’ll get the information you need without taking up any extra time in your day. 

To figure out which tasks in your process can be automated, take a look at where you’re spending your time and consider what your primary goals are. Basically, anything that doesn’t align with a goal should be automated. 

Pro Tip:  Try HoneyBook Automations to take tasks off your plate while still maintaining control. You can choose to have final approval over every automated process, so you still get to review everything. This can be a great way to start automating if you haven’t used it before.

If you’re not ready for automation or you’ve identified tasks that can’t be automated, consider if you can streamline your processes instead. 

How long does it usually take to book a client? Is there a lot of back and forth when waiting for their initial payment and signed contract? You can streamline this process with HoneyBook by combining smaller steps into one interactive file, making your entire workflow more efficient. 

Another process that can take up a ton of time is scheduling. You probably spend multiple emails trying to figure out which time and day works best for you and a client. But, this can all be simplified into one email (yes, just one!). Use a scheduling tool to block off your time and have your clients choose what works best for both of you. 

If you want to get even more advanced, you can automate your scheduling process too. If you already schedule a kickoff meeting once a client books, automate that email to send with your scheduling link as soon as they’ve paid. 

HoneyBook is especially powerful because it allows you to implement business automation and streamline processes. That translates to hours saved every day! 

Personalize the touch points that matter most

Once you get started with business automation and begin streamlining your processes, you can choose where to invest your saved time and effort. That choice is what gives you back control over your business! 

Streamlining and automation can also highlight gaps in your processes or areas of improvement. You may find that you need to set better expectations with clients about next steps, or better communicate with your team members. 

Pro Tip:  When using business automation, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to remove personalization from your processes. You can always incorporate your brand voice and tone with every automated message. Plus, automating repetitive tasks means you’ll be more present for 1:1 interactions with clients.

As an independent business owner, you probably already know where your time is best spent. If you’re a photographer, it’s taking amazing photos for your clients. If you’re a graphic designer, it’s designing or providing creative direction for your team. For every independent business owner, it’ll also be focusing more on 1:1 time with your clients, such as during service selection, kickoff calls, project execution, meetings, and more. 

Build processes that give you more autonomy

Having control over your business is all about autonomy. You’re a business owner and a leader, which means you should be able to have freedom and flexibility over your priorities and presence. 

Creating more streamlined processes is easier with an all-in-one system like HoneyBook. With tools like automation, scheduling, smart files, and more, both you and your clients can work together seamlessly. 

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