From an online business owner who’s smashing goals
You’d be living under a rock if you didn’t know it’s now possible to entirely run your business virtually. And yes, I’m aware there’s probably loads of blogs all claiming to give you the best tips for virtual business management.
But give me a tick to explain why me.
I’m a process queen (an organisational nerd some would say), and these are the tools and processes I use in my own business. I’m also not one who’d willy-nilly recommend crap to my audience, so these are tools I 100% believe in.
From winning awards within my first year (for my processes) to running a successful business (with staff), and balancing a family (2 sets of twins under 5), these tools make my life easier.
Here are my tried and tested virtual business management tips and tools
1.Create your efficiency toolkit
There are seriously so many tools available that you can easily lose hours checking out the app store, downloading the free and shiny ones, and trying to work out how they work. Then when you’ve finished playing, if they didn’t suit you 100%, they’d become just another dead app filling up your memory space. Yep, been there and done that. For efficiency, here are my top picks:
- Asana: You can’t go past Asana for task management (and it’s free). Keeping track of what needs doing and what’s done is crucial for smooth business management. It helps to show you in black and white how productive you (and your team) are. You’ll get a little fist pump moment every time a funky character flies across your screen, praising you when you tick off a task.
- Toggl: If you need to track time as you’re working on projects, try the free version of Toggl. Even if you don’t technically need to track your time, I suggest you give this a go. It’s a great way to see how long you’re taking on tasks and trust me; you may be surprised how long some will take. Knowing how much time you’re spending working on income generating tasks vs administration or other non-income generating tasks can highlight where your time is wasted. And by timing your tasks, you’ll have a rough idea of what to expect should you choose to outsource.
- Insightly: This CRM is my go-to, and the free version is perfectly fine and accessible to all my team members. All of my client’s details are in this CRM, so I have all contact details in one, easy to find place. With my team members having access, they can also access Insightly and find contact details without needing to ask me every single time. We’re also in the habit of adding client notes, so we both know what’s happening with the client at all times.
2. Embrace your faffing time
No one can ever be 100% on, and we all need our faffing time for our sanity. Set aside small amounts of time during the day for a faff off. And by small, I mean 5 to 10-minute bursts. Be kind to your brain and give it the break it needs from the intense stuff. Use this time to reply to easy emails, check Facebook (try timing how long you spend on Facebook each day, and you’d be surprised!), doodle in your diary or simply walk away from your desk. I find having a small dance to your favourite songs is a great way to faff.
3. Set some business efficiency goals
These aren’t your general business goals, but goals that relate to the tasks you’re going to complete, and when. This may be client work or business growth. Add your goals to your planning tool (mine are Asana and my Antplanner). And please be realistic. It’s all good to say you’re going to onboard 20 new clients in a month by attending networking events while doing all the client work by yourself, but in reality, you won’t have time. Divide your time each day into your tasks – work, admin and business growth. Colour code these blocks of time on a wall planner and STICK TO IT. If you love the business growth (networking and nurturing) side of things, give yourself more time by outsourcing some of your admin time.
4. Plan your time in advance
Before the week starts, I plan out what each day is going to look like and how I’m going to allocate my time. This helps me mentally prepare for what’s coming up and to make sure I’m not wasting time each day trying to work out what to do next. I start the new week feeling prepared and know in advance what I need to get ready to smash my task goals for that day. If a task for the following day needs some pre-work (i.e. internet research for a blog), I know to either schedule in extra time on the day for the task, or to leave some time the day before to prepare.
5. Get a head start on your content creation
Social media can be time-consuming – the content creation, the scheduling and the monitoring. Set aside a block of time to work out your content plan for the next few months. Think about the what, where and when. What will you post, where will you post and when will you post? Once you have your content plan completed, book in more blocks of your time to schedule your posts. Then rinse and repeat this process every couple of months. If social media isn’t your thing, outsource this part and use this block of time to work on other aspects of your business.
6. Set up some bookkeeping processes
It’s fine if you choose to do your bookkeeping however you should set up some processes to save you at tax time. Using an accounting software is by far the most efficient way to handle your bookkeeping. Regardless of your methods, you need to have a set place to keep ALL of your expense receipts, bills and invoices. This can be a folder on your computer, or a physical folder kept in your office. Divide your file/folder into timeframes to make reconciliation easier. The key to bookkeeping is consistency. Set aside a time each day, week or month and do your books regularly, so they don’t get out of control.
7. Create order from chaos in your email inbox
Inboxes can spiral into horrible black holes if you don’t have folders set up. Set up folders in your inbox by clients, suppliers, groups or services (this will be determined by the nature of your business). You can set rules that certain emails from people go straight into those folders, or you can simply click and drag emails to the relevant folders. Your aim is to have zero items in your inbox and to help you quickly locate emails rather than wasting time scrolling through an inbox. If you can keep your inbox in ONLY 3 folders, you’re in line with well-known productivity author, Dermot Crowly.
8. Rest and recharge
Be kind to yourself. Make sure you’re not cramming too much in (so easy to do). If you work too hard and don’t get enough rest, your brain finds it harder to process things, and you’ll start taking longer to do even the simplest tasks. Working that little bit longer each day will NOT help you get through more work. So, have an end time and stick to it. You would in an office environment.
Do you have any virtual business management tips or tools to add?
The above list is far from exhaustive. There are so many tools you can use for your business, and everyone has their personal choices. I’d love to hear if you have any tips or tools that you use to make your business life a little easier.
Over to you
If you’ve found this article useful, I’d love for you to share it with your networks or anyone who may be struggling to put processes in place. I’m always available for a chat about your business and to see if there’s any way your processes can be improved.