I believe discipline is more of an issue for people who started in a traditional job before deciding to follow their entrepreneurial dream of being their own boss – thinking that it doesn’t require work to build a business – but it does.
When you were working at your 9-5 job you dreamt of being able to work from home, the problem is for most people, the dream was about being home and work wasn’t actually part of the fantasy. Being an entrepreneur can be more financially rewarding that working for an hourly wage, and it can allow you to be flexible in your schedule and location, but at the end of the day, what is really required is work.
I feel like I have just uttered a four letter word in a room full of young children – did she just say W-O-R-K?
Yes, I did.
In the beginning, it will take more effort on your part, you will be learning new things – this is going to require time and discipline for you to succeed – but you can do it. One of the best ways to make life easier is to develop systems. Systems don’t have to be rigid to help you. Ideally systems will help keep track of tasks to be done, the steps to complete those tasks and of course you will make use of automation when possible.
Systems can be simple. For example, a checklist for each blog post that you write may include things like, SEO Friendly Title, Call to Action at the end of the post, Images to use, and a reminder to share to social media sites – you get the idea. A checklist is a system and you can find checklists that others are using and then adapt it for your business.
As your business becomes more successful, you will want to be able to outsource tasks, that you don’t like doing, aren’t really good at doing, or that just take up too much or your valuable time. Having systems already in place allows you to more easily see the tasks you can outsource and it helps you to explain what you expect from the person you are delegating that specific task to.
Without systems, it is harder. I’m not saying you won’t be successful, just that it will feel like more work and less reward if you can’t ever be away from your business. If every time you write a blog post, you have to stop and take the time to think – is there anything I forgot – it seems harder because it is harder. But you are making it harder.
Setting up systems can also seem like it takes more time than just doing the task at hand – and that may be true in the moment, but over the long term you will be wasting more time than you gained initially.
Checklists are not the only systems you can use in your business, do you have an autoresponder for you emails? That is a system, it is an email management system – imagine if you had to do all that work yourself. The more you grow your business, the more “moving parts” it will have and the longer you wait to get systems into place, the harder it becomes. Not impossible, just harder.
You may have to try more than one system or method until your find what works best for you and your business, so get started today.
Manage Your Time
This can be very hard. You left your traditional job so that you could have more free time, so why would you want to limit that? Well as mentioned above, you will have to find time to actually work if you plan to bring in a steady income.
You will have to learn to say no – and that can be very hard to do. You need have a calendar to know what events are coming up for your family, and what social activities you want to make sure you attend. For me my #1 social activity is my monthly book club meeting, I work my schedule around that event as much as possible, on occasion I do have to miss a month, but very rarely.
Now that you have the good stuff on the calendar, start a second calendar to write down all your business commitments, including project due dates, client meetings, etc. Now compare the two calendars, and look at any days and times that overlap – start there – this is your most immediate problem. Once you have any areas of overlap cleared up, you still need to add in time for you to work in and on your business.
If after you have done these exercises, you need to determine if you have left yourself enough time to truly build your business – if not, you will have to make some sacrifices either in your leisure/family activities, or in your expectations for your business growth.
I would also recommend repeating this process at least every 90 days and in the beginning, maybe every month, just to make sure that you time management system (see how I snuck this system in) is working for you and your business. Time is the most precious resource, we can never get back our time so we want to make sure we are spending it wisely.
Now that you have your systems in place you are one step closer to building that entrepreneurial lifestyle you were dreaming of while you were working at that old 9-5 job. Having the freedom to live the lifestyle you want requires discipline, but the fun you can have will be so worth the effort.
I’m Lori Winslow, the Organized Solopreneur. I help solopreneurs get their business and their life organized. To get started, pick up a copy of my Top 10 Ways to Get Your Solopreneur Business Organized.