When it comes to running your business, the first year can be a bit of a learning curve. Working out what works, and what doesn't in terms of scheduling, clients and even honing the charge for your services or products. The saying goes 'time is money' and when you are a freelancer that really counts double. As a smaller business, you cannot afford to waste time with things that don't work for you, and you certainly can't lose money trying a lot of different methods. So it pays to research in advance and try not to get tied into long contracts that you just aren't using. Getting to a level of efficiency is a bit of a science, and for each business, it will mean something different so not all the advice and information below will be directly relatable for you. But, the joy of running your own business is you are free to pick and choose what you like the most and ditch what you don't.
In general, the aim should be to up your efficiency to see an increase in sales and the time you have free to run your business and work on new products and services.
That is a bit of an exaggeration, but you can implement so many apps and software to keep your business running when you aren't even awake. Most companies are very social nowadays, and there are plenty of places you can check out to manage this for you. If you aren't in a position to hire a VA yet, or perhaps you don't want to in the long run either, then check out some of the following platforms -
- Planonly - a beautiful Instagram scheduling platform, with a free option if you are looking to try something without making a financial commitment. It has automated posting, a range of hashtag options as well as the ability to track your engagement and stats.
- Buffer - ideal for keeping your Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest ticking over (but there are better options now).
- MissingLettr - Runs year long drip feed campaigns across most social media channels. A range of customizable posting options and automated to the point you might forget about it unless you make a point of heading straight there after creating a new product, service or blog post.
Managing your business cash flow is the bread and butter of good business. Knowing what is coming, going and the tax on top. While not all of us can afford an accountant, most of us can afford an app with a monthly charge that helps you manage everything and keeps track of your taxes too. There are a number of tax changes coming, so read up on making tax digital and see what that will mean for you.
Automate that mailing list. Imagine that all of the social media websites were gone forever - what good is a follow list to you right now? Very little. Spending time building a mailing list is going to be one of the best things you do for yourself.
There are a number of great options that will help you build great newsletters, encourage sign-ups, and prepare auto-responders where required:
- Benchmark Email
This might sound a little impersonal, but consider how much time you will save if you have a string of automated emails to drive people to the check-out. And turn cold leads into hot ones, after all, if they joined your mailing list, it was for a reason.
Head in the Clouds
Modern business is always on its feet. It might be you laying in bed and sending a piece of work to a client, or it might be you on a beach but managing a project. Cloud technology is majoritively free and can make a significant impact on your business and how you work on a day-to-day basis. It no longer makes sense to have everything as a paper file, not only is it not great for the environment, but it takes up space and takes much longer to be sent to a client.
Check out these free cloud options:
- Google Drive: A range of possibilities, secure in your account and easy to share. You have up to 15gb for free or £1.60 per month for 100gb great for updating files on your phone or tablet if you are away from your central computer.
- OneDrive: If you have a Hotmail, or live email account then you can access this too. You get 5gb for free, and while it is less than google it is still free if you need extra space without the premium.
- iCloud: If you have an iPhone, a mac, or an iPad the chances are you already use this one. You can run this on Mac and Windows, and it can be set to save items automatically. You get 5gb for free - grand if it's smaller files, but you'll eat into this really quickly if you are backing up photos. But at 79p per month for 50gb you can't go wrong with this cloud service.
It is essential that you take care of your cloud storage and regularly change the password. Making sure that you are only auto-uploading things you really need and don't share your password. If you need to share your password use LastPass.
On your website, try to incorporate a 'live' calendar if you take bookings so that people can choose time slots and also see your hours of business. Pop-ups and multiple options for signing up to mailing lists are a great idea and will help with your large mailing list goals too. Make sure you choose an option that can be integrated on the platforms that you use. Instant buying options if you produce booklets, pdfs and online courses are essential too.
When it comes to running a one-person business, the more you can automate and have running in the background, the more time you will have to work in your business and on your business.