How to Increase Your Productivity as a Solo Entrepreneur
When you’re running your online business on your own, managing your time effectively is not just a good habit, but also a necessity. Anything you can do to increase your productivity means less time working, and more time enjoying the income you earn. In this post, we’re going to look at some good ways every solo entrepreneur can get more out of their time working.
Find Out What Works
If you’re doing any kind of online marketing for your business, you have to analyze what is working. Not just what’s driving traffic, but what is driving business – sales, leads, mailing list opt-ins, etc.
When you’re just starting out, you have to try out a little bit of everything in terms of content, search, and social media marketing. From the moment you start online marketing, you need to have Google Analytics installed on your website and goals set up to measure conversions. With Google Analytics and goals, you can learn how each type of traffic converts into sales, leads, and subscribers. For example, you can find out how traffic to and from the following sources lead to conversions.
- Specific pieces of content.
- Keywords you are targeting for organic or paid search.
- Individual social media networks.
- Paid advertising (banners, sponsored posts, etc.)
- Guest posts.
After you’ve experimented with different online marketing strategies, you’ll want to start noting what is working for you and begin focusing more of your energy to those strategies, and less on the ones that are not. For example, if StumbleUpon is sending a lot of traffic, but it isn’t converting, then you may want to focus more on Facebook and/or Twitter marketing.
By doing this, you won’t be spending hours on end writing content, building your audience, networking, link building, and seeking out advertising opportunities that aren’t having a positive affect on your bottom line.
Work on What Inspires You
Ok, you can’t always be inspired by what you are doing. But if you have a few things you need to do, and one Is just calling out to you over the others, do that thing first. Why? Because you’ll likely get it done faster. Otherwise, you’ll be working on things you’re not in the mood to do, all the while thinking about how much you would rather be doing that other thing. Hence, your focus will be broken before you even get started.
Utilize the Right Tools
Using the right tools for your business can make the difference between spending your time on revenue-generating tasks and administrative busy work. For example, if you have a client that you have to send a statement to every month, and you find yourself taking 20 minutes going through your Paypal history to get those numbers for them and convert them into a PDF, then you’re wasting 20 minutes doing something that FreshBooks could do in less than a minute.
The easiest way to find the best tools is to look at suggestions by others in your industry. Try Google searches like “best accounting tools for entrepreneurs” or “top social media tools” to find the most recommended tools. Give them a try before committing to find the one that best suits your needs – most tools have a 14 – 30 day free trial.
Remember that the goal is to find tools that make things you are doing regularly easier, not to add more things to your to-do list. Otherwise, you’ll just be eating into your goal of increased productivity.
Batch Small Tasks
Do you start and stop working on a project to check email, respond to tweets, reply to comments on your blog, and other short tasks? If so, you’re breaking your concentration and making a project that should only last a few hours take all day long, which would be a huge loss of productivity.
A great tip learned from The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris is to only check and reply to emails only once or twice a day at a scheduled time. This way, you are doing it all at once and can focus on your projects the rest of the time. If you use this time to also reply to your social mentions and blog comments, you can batch those tasks all at once and not let them interfere with the rest of your work time.
If you find yourself sending the same email responses over and over again, then templates are the answer. You can have a template for your rates, advertising options, shipment updates, link requests, guest post inquiries, and pretty much anything else where 80% of the text stays the same.
The key to using templates effectively is to personalize them each time you send them. For starters, you always want to include the person’s first name in the greeting – this goes for press releases, link requests, guest post inquiries, and similar emails. When responding to new leads for the first time, include something in your services offering that relates directly to them. For example, if you are a freelance web designer and they are a real estate company, include additional examples of real estate websites you have designed or include a testimonial from another real estate company.
Small, personalized touches to your templates will make them that much more effective and are still more time saving than writing them from scratch.
Outsource When Possible
Stop doing the things you can’t do well and outsource them to others if possible. For example, if you get a lot of leads by publishing books on Amazon, but you find that you spend a longer time designing the cover or formatting the content than you do writing it, stop trying to do those things. Look into finding a virtual assistant through trusted services like Virtual Staff Finder. Or if you only have a need here and there, try service providers listed on Fiverr.
If people hire you to do accounting, and pay for you to do the service, then it’s disingenuous to take money for premium services and outsource it. But for all of those things you don’t get paid to do – see if you can find a trusted assistant or service provider instead. This way, you can focus on the things you do the best and, thus, be more productive.
How do you increase productivity in your small business? Share some tips for other entrepreneurs in the comments!