As a small business owner, the stuff just never ends. That’s why prioritizing your time by doing the right things is just as important—if not more—than managing a back-to-back calendar each day. That’s why setting up the foundation of a business success roadmap is key to success. Being your own boss is one of the awesome perks of running a business. You get to plan your own schedule, work from anywhere, indulge in projects you like, and so much more.
So, what’s not to like?
As great as it is, freelancing or running your own show also comes with unwanted stress and anxieties. Luckily, there are strategies (and tools) that can help you stay on top of everything. Not just to stay sane, but to do it well and have room to take up that new hobby.
Small Business Success Roadmap to Help You Grow
In this article, we’ll show you how! Here are some top tips to build out your business success roadmap:
Use cloud technology and automation as much as possible
From self-driving cars to semi-autonomous robots, machines are increasingly capable of performing tasks and making our lives a whole lot easier. We kid you not, since the early days of the pandemic, robot waitresses are serving food in the Netherlands to reduce human-to-human contact. As crazy as that sounds, cloud-based technology and automation are here to help you run your business better, smarter, and faster. With so many affordable options for the different aspects of your business, it’s a shame for you not to leverage it.
It’s all about saving time and improving profit, right? Some of these include:
Think about every essential app you use on a daily business. Many people’s “tech stack” look pretty similar: from Google Sheets and Gmail to Slack, Google Calendar, Trello, Type Form Google Drive, and Asana. Now think about how much simpler your day-to-day would be if these apps were connected. You receive an inbound lead through your company type form and boom—you automatically get a slack message about it. That’s what Zapier (coined easy automation for busy people) does.
Gone are the days where you manually follow up on tasks. Create your project plan, assign owners, and even automate reminders (to your email inbox or within an app) like Airtable, Asana, and monday.com.
The rise of cloud technology is powering anyone—yes, including you—to take control of your own accounting. Gone are the days where you spend money without understanding income, and tracking your financials on a piece of paper. Accounting software now allows you to tackle the entire spectrum: from as little as sending an invoice or two all the way to using double-entry accounting software for your accounting suite. Think less paper, less error, more automation, and a much better understanding of where your freelance business sits.
Control your schedule, don’t let it control you
We all have the same 24 hours. And the clock is always ticking. As a freelancer or small business owner, your schedule is usually jam-packed. The key here to rise above anxiety is to remember that you are in control of your schedule—not the other way around. It all comes to superior time management skills. Time blocking, prioritization, and minimizing distractions are key to success here.
What works really well to hit the “refresh” and “reset” button is to capitalize to free time. Instead of letting free time slip away, use it to your advantage. Use travel time, laundry time, or even walk/jogs as a time to listen to your favorite podcast or eBook. When you take your 1-hour lunch break (or more), do it graciously with little screen or work time. Your mind and body will thank you for it later!
Stay on top of finances and records
Two words: tax season. Keeping clear records of income, expenses, and overall accounts is key to shaping a successful approach to tackling your tax return. Instead of scrambling last minute to find your income statements, you should have an ongoing list somewhere that calculates this number for you.
Beyond taxes, staying on top of your finances should always be on your business success roadmap. That’s because it makes it easy to speak about your company finances when asked. Questions may come at you left, right, and center from investors—you’ll want to be prepared when they ask. Cloud-based accounting software makes it easy to stay on top of your finances from an income and expenses perspective. All you’ll need is a device and a solid internet connection all tracked and hosted on the cloud. From there, accounting software like TrulySmall Accounting pulls in your bank feed so that you don’t have to manually add it yourself. Works like a charm throughout the year and especially during tax season!
Be a master of priorities
If there’s one thing you want to master as a freelancer or small business owner is to become a master of priorities. When you’re wearing multiple hats and doing a little bit of everything, this is going to be crucial to transforming your 60-hour workweek to a 40 hour (or less) one.
Some ways to prioritize are:
- Making a to-do list
- Regularly review your workload (at least every week)
- Set realistic deadlines
- Focus on top 3-5 things you want to accomplish every day
- Focus those high priority tasks during a window where you have the most energy
- Minimize distractions
- Most importantly, take care of yourself to recharge for the next day!
Stand out in the crowded market
Standing out from your competition is all about differentiating yourself. To differentiate your brand, you’ll need to develop a unique point of difference (POD). But not just any—your POD should resonate for you and your customers.
As part of your business success roadmap, start by nailing down your why, niche, and target audience. Hone in on how your product or service transforms how they approach their lives and better yet, solve a problem. Next, do a deep dive into researching your competition. This is where you place your product or service side-by-side for a comparative analysis. If your differentiators aren’t clear during this practice, then you’re not being specific enough, or you just haven’t done enough research.
Learn how to sell without being too “salesy”
Coming across as too “salesy” is a lack in two main factors: you’re either pitching your product with little understanding of your client’s needs or you’re coming from a place where trust has not yet been built enough for you to pitch in the way you do. At the end of the day, selling is all about building trust, understanding their pain points, and providing value. Testimonials from happy clients are a great way to show your benefit and value without being too “over the top” or pushy.
Celebrate and share customer wins
What’s the point of doing so much hard work if you don’t celebrate the wins? Big or small, it’s important to share customer wins both externally (like on social media) and internally (if you have a team). And if you don’t, don’t sweat it! You can always treat yourself to a celebratory drink or a gift on a Tuesday afternoon if you completed a successful project or got a glowing review from a client. The world is your oyster as a small business owner!
Learn how to use pricing as a strategy
Pricing products is a unique skill that not every freelancer or small business owner has. To price right takes a thorough market pricing analysis, profiling your competitive landscape, and creating a pricing strategy. Of course, your pricing strategy should make sense for how you charge your services and/or products based on years of experience providing X or how other prices a similar product.
Invoice and communicate professionally
The art of invoicing is so much more than writing an invoice and sending it.
Let’s break it down.
Invoicing should be seen as an extension of you, your business, and its brand. Communicating your invoice professionally delights your client, making them that much more willing to pay the invoice right away.
The invoice is a business document and as such, view it as an opportunity to create it with the look and feel of your brand. Lastly, mastering the art of invoice follow-ups isn’t easy. But by creating an invoice follow-up schedule, approaching each conversation respectfully, and using a well-crafted email template, you’re already ahead of the game!
Always be developing yourself
Freelancing and running a business is hard work. If you’re not careful, you can stay looking down for too long and forget to invest in the most important person—you. Plus, if you weren’t comfortable with the unknown or afraid of growth, you wouldn’t be on the path that you’re on. Whether that’s actively sourcing new learning opportunities or taking that course you wanted to learn months ago, there is never a better time than now. Take that course. You absolutely won’t regret it!
Running a business as a CEO means you’re wearing many hats—all the time. That’s why you’ll learn quickly that you have to be a jack of all trades, and if you’re lucky, also a master of some aspect. If not, you can always turn to tools that can help automate various aspects of your job, from notifications and project management to accounting software.
Because invoicing and bookkeeping is a fundamental part of running your business, we can’t overstate how important investing in a simple, easy-to-use, invoicing tool (or double-entry accounting tool) you actually want to use. If you’re interested, send your first few invoices for free today with TrulySmall.