Focus Business Support Inc. provides business productivity consultation, setup and support to creative businesses. We handle much of the daily business operations and management so they can focus on their product and customers. We create time and freedom for our clients to get inspired and share their special gifts.
Want to Become More Productive and Also Have a Life?
Sign up for my FREE 6 week course on How To Get More Done by Doing Less.
I’m Treana and I am passionate about showing entrepreneurs and small business owners how to get more done by doing less.
I’m a believer in keeping things simple and minimalist. My 20 years of experience in administration and coordination has taught me a thing or two about organization and small business productivity.
I love finding better and more efficient ways of doing…anything! I’m a Virgo after all! My goal is to lessen your workload while your business thrives!
In this FREE small business productivity course I’ve put together my top 6 methods to become insanely productive. Once you sign up, you’ll receive one lesson per week over the next 6 weeks. That way you’ll have a full week to get used to one method.
What You’ll Learn:
How to clear your mind so your creative juices can flow again.
How to pick your battles and focus on what’s important.
How being more structured actually creates more freedom.
How multitasking isn’t a thing.
How to simplify processes and tasks.
How to know when to seek help.
What you’ll receive:
6 emails over the next 6 weeks. One email per week. This way you can absorb and put into practice each lesson. I find this is less overwhelming than trying to do it all at once.
Actionable missions where you’ll see results right away
A free printable download of the content
This course may be for you if:
You feel overwhelmed by your daily small business tasks
You can never seem to catch up
Free time is a foreign concept to you
This course may not be for you if:
You have properly delegated and outsourced appropriate tasks
You are caught up at the end of each business day
Free time is something you have ample supply of
Oh, and did I mention it’s absolutely FREE?!
Are you ready to get more done without increasing your workload?
Even if you’re not in need of large loans or looking for business partners, a business plan is a crucial document to have. It gives you direction and will guide you through the process of starting your business. Once you get started, you’ll forget about certain tasks and amazing ideas you had in the beginning.
Your business plan is a living document that you should refer to regularly. It can be updated as often as needed. Nothing is set in stone so don’t be afraid to document certain steps or ideas.
If the task of writing a 40 page document about your dreams and how you’re going to get there is overwhelming, outsource it. Just because you don’t want to write it doesn’t mean you don’t need one. You won’t regret it.
Being 3 years behind on bookkeeping isn’t uncommon as a business owner. I’ve seen it many times. It is a nightmare and causes an obscene amount of stress. The business owner can’t focus on their product, service or customers in the way they should. It’s always lingering in the back of their mind. They lose sleep, their quality of life suffers.
In my opinion, this is one of the top reasons businesses fail. If you don’t keep up with your books, you won’t know whether or not you’re making money. Financial stress takes over your life.
Unless you love organizing and filing receipts, entering hundreds of tedious transactions every month, enjoy fixing your own mistakes, are detail oriented and love crunching numbers…hire a bookkeeper.
Not having a website
Most people head straight for Google when they are looking for a product or service. If your business is not on the world wide web, you’re missing out on a lot of business.
Your website can sell your products, it will tell people how to contact you, it can be leveraged for an online marketing strategy.
It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. Web hosting is really affordable these days and there are platforms out there, such as Ontraport, that make it easy to create simple but effective landing pages. If you don’t have the skill or desire to create one, outsource it.
Not being consistent with marketing
It’s easy to forget to market when things are busy. But if you drop the ball on marketing, rather than your business staying steady and growing, it will feel like you’re on a roller coaster. Keeping a consistent level of marketing will help to keep business level as well.
If you’re looking to keep business at the level it’s at, you’ll want to invest (yes, it’s an investment) around 5% of your gross revenue into marketing. If you are looking for growth, 20% is a good number to aim for. Some large companies that are looking for extreme growth and have some major competition set their marketing budgets at closer to 50%!
Whether you spend money on marketing or you spend time on marketing, set a budget, create a strategy and keep it consistent through slow times and busy times.
Working your butt off 80 hours a week is going to burn you out before you get off the ground. You’ll make mistakes and your productivity will suffer. Doing it all yourself will never set your business up for growth. Everyone needs help and smart business owners know when to ask for it. If you can’t learn to let go, you may want to reconsider starting a business.
It may seem like outsourcing is ‘costing’ you but when you hand the reins over to a specialist, they will do it faster and better than you could. Recognizing your weaknesses is an incredible strength.
You also need to set an hourly rate for what your time is worth. Let’s say you calculate that your time is worth $100/hour. Doesn’t it only make sense to hire someone to help with the daily administrative and marketing tasks for half that price? That way you can focus on what you do best.
Just remember, you don’t have to do it alone. There companies and resources, to help you get through the rough patches in your business. There are many business owners who would be happy to share their successes and failures.
Hiring experts to help along the way will set you up to succeed. Knowing what to focus on is half the battle.
If you think starting a business is easy, you’re right. Anyone can start a business. 7 year old kids start businesses. But do you have what it takes to build a successful business? With a plan, failure is likely. Without a plan, failure is imminent.
I was fortunate enough to be involved in an entrepreneurial course which lasted 9 whole months. They taught us the ins and outs of starting and building a business…from coming up with the initial idea right down to how to do the bookkeeping. They even supported us through the beginning stages of our startups and the program was supplemented financially. Even with this education and support, it…is…hard.
It is impossible to predict how each individual is going to handle the emotional aspects of running a business. Rejection is an ego killer and you haven’t experienced rejection like you will when you own a business. If you’re working from home, the isolation will wear on you.
Not sure starting a business is for you. Ask yourself these questions:
Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?
Being self-aware is an incredible trait to have and it’s not so common. In order to run a successful business, you need to be able to take responsibility for your shortcomings and get support where you need it. Knowing what you don’t know is one of the best attributes to have as a business owner.
Most experts will ask if there is a market for your idea. This is important but if you don’t love the idea yourself first, you won’t be able to sell it to anyone and you’ll lack the drive to create a business out of it.
Do you have a moderate to high risk tolerance?
There is always a chance that clients won’t pay or that you’ll become sick and not be able to work. Plus the fact that half of businesses fail within 5 years is a risk in itself. If you prefer the comfort of job security and not having full responsibility, you may want to consider staying an employee.
Are you driven by money or by the value you will provide to your customers?
If all you can picture is dollar signs, you’re in for a rude awakening. If you don’t provide value for your customers, they won’t come back and the word will get out that you’re just in it for the money. Focus on the process and how you can help your customers and you’ll be further ahead.
Do you tend to focus on solutions or problems?
If you are always stuck on the problem you will never solve it. As a business owner, you need to find solutions quickly. If you can’t do that, you may want to reconsider starting a business.
Are you able to let go?
In order to build a successful business, you’ll need to delegate tasks at a certain point. Wearing all the hats within your business isn’t sustainable and your business will become stagnate.
If these questions have helped you decide you are cut out to be an entrepreneur I couldn’t be happier. There are many, many benefits to starting a business. I’ll save them for another post.
You also don’t have to do it alone. Surround yourself with experts and a support network and you’ll increase your chances of success. Know when you need help and ask for it. Even if you have a bunch of money saved up to start, write a business plan or have someone help write it for you. Refer to it regularly and update it as needed. It’s a living document and your business will need to be able to adapt to change.
‘If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail’ – Benjamin Franklin.
Thanks so much for reading. If you’ve decided starting a business is for you, download the FREE Starting a Business Checklist.
Does your small business really need a knowledge management system?
Look, you’re currently running a business without one, so technically you don’t need one. However, could your business run more smoothly with one? Definitely. Even if your company team consists of you and only you, having this setup will save you time looking for information and you will be prepared for growth.
Most small businesses have random policies written in various different forms and stored in various different locations, including the business owner’s brain. Most business owners wouldn’t know where to look for a specific piece of information. This is an extreme time management issue. Searching for files and information wastes, on average, a fifth of the work day. You may as well spend that time setting up your knowledge sharing platform.
Just the time savings alone should convince you that your business needs a knowledge management system but here are some more reasons:
Adds professionalism to your business
When there’s a place for everything and everything’s in its place, your company looks like it has it together.
It makes on-boarding and orienting new employees or contractors much smoother
You and your team don’t have to waste precious brain power trying to remember how something is supposed to be done. They can just look at the checklist.
Client experience is consistent
Sometimes your clients know each other and may share their experience with your company. Also, anyone can share anything on social media at anytime.
Your team will know important details
If answers can be found easily in one place, your team won’t always have to come running to you or management with unnecessary questions.
It helps the company improve and grow
Your company should always be making progress. As stated in this article, making progress is the secret to happiness. There will be more freedom for you and your team to create and implement new ideas and systems. Customer service will improve, which will make for more satisfied customers.
Every business is unique and has different information but here is a list of what you might see in your knowledge management system:
Any insights gained through day to day work or during projects that can help fellow team members.
Policies and Procedures
Handbooks, Terms and Conditions, Agreements, Checklists
Setting up systems, Signing up clients, Training manuals, User guides
Contact information, Background, Company role
Acknowledgement for a job well done, Introducing new team members, Team milestones, Team ideas and feedback
The business plan is a living document that should be referred to often and updated regularly
Events, Announcements, Tips
Everyone in the company should know who does what and who to go to for certain tasks or issues
Your knowledge management system should be hosted digitally where you or your team can easily find them. On the company intranet or a collaborative platform. I like Trello and G Suite to share information between clients and contractors.
Just start. Set it up and let it build organically. Look at which platforms you already use. Do any of them have the capability for setting up a knowledge management system (G Suite, Trello)? Don’t sign up for another platform if you don’t need to. If you’re not sure which platform will work for you, give us a call.
Start as soon as you start your business. If you’ve been in business for a while, start today. It will be much easier to get into the habit of updating information, and once you hire a team, it will be ready to go. Update it whenever there is a new policy, procedure or piece of company information. If you leave it until you already have employees or company information and documents, the task will be a large one.
The larger your business, the more often you’ll want to update it. A lot of businesses do this backwards. However, the more employees you have, the more knowledge there is to share and the more often that knowledge will change.
If you own the business but don’t directly oversee the day to day operations, management should be creating the content for the knowledge base. They are the individuals who see first hand what is working and what isn’t, what information needs to be shared and what information is outdated.
If you are a solo-preneur or one person operation, this task will obviously fall to you. If the knowledge base is currently stored in your brain and you’re not a writer and don’t know where to start, start small. Pick your most used or most important process or piece of information and get every step, insight, tip etc, in no particular order, down on paper (or digitally if you prefer). From there you can create a template. Once you have the first document looking the way you’d like, the rest of them will be a piece of cake.
If knowledge management just isn’t your thing, or you just can’t find the time to do it, contact Focus Business Support. We can guide you through the process, set things up and offer suggestions. You will have the ultimate approval but the onerous task will become much more pleasant with some help.
If you found this helpful, please like, share and sign up.
Ok, so there are some entrepreneurs who get their kicks out of crunching numbers and getting paper cuts…me being one of them. However, for the most part, unless you’re a bookkeeper, I bet you didn’t start a business so you could do the bookkeeping.
Small business bookkeeping is one of the tasks most small business owners or entrepreneurs procrastinate on (no, you’re not the only one). Most people don’t like doing it but it’s something that can’t be ignored. The longer you put it off, the harder it is to catch up on. After a few weeks you’ll start to lose receipts (or they will fade) or forget what you spent that $117 on 3 months ago.
Bookkeeping can also be an incredible tool in growing your business. If the books are kept up to date, areas for improvement can be spotted and mistakes can be found before it’s too late. Trends can also be seen, which can determine where you’re spending too much or not enough.
Hiring a bookkeeper can save you money, can save you time, reduces stress and enables you to build your business. Here’s how:
Saves you money
Don’t have your accountant do your small business bookkeeping
Accountants are highly specialized in their field and handle analysis, structuring and consulting for a company. A bookkeeper is a more administrative role and fulfills the day to day financial tasks and management for a company. An accountant charges anywhere from $150-$400 per hour. You don’t want to have them fixing your mistakes and entering tedious transactions when you can pay a fraction of that for a bookkeeper. Save your accountant for financial consulting and corporate tax filing.
Keep up to date on payments and payroll
As a business owner, there are many expenses to keep track of. A bookkeeper will ensure you are up do date on any payments. This could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars on late fees and interest charges. It will also keep your credit in tip top shape. They will also ensure your employees are paid on time and that there is enough cash flow to cover payroll.
Reduces risk in human error
If you’re not familiar with small business bookkeeping there is a good chance mistakes will be made. If don’t know what you’re doing, it can take a lot of time for someone who isn’t familiar with your company file to fix it. This will end up costing you much more than if you had hired a bookkeeper from the beginning.
Saves you time
Get paid on time
You may be too busy to chase down client payments but even if you’re not, it’s difficult to ask clients for money. Having a 3rd party handle the collections keeps the relationship between you and your clients happy. A bookkeeper will also have strategies to get the payments on time with less conflict.
Liaison between you and accountant
Accountants and bookkeepers speak a similar language. Having them communicate directly can save the business owner a lot of time by not having to relay messages back and forth. There is also a holistic approach to your financial needs when the two professionals work together.
A bookkeeper will organize and file your receipts so they can be found quickly if needed. Also, who really likes sorting and filing receipts anyway? Online document management platforms such as HubDoc makes it even easier. There is no back and forth with paper documents and if something happens to a hard copy there is a backup. Virtual bookkeeping is the way of the future.
Do it weekly or monthly
Keeping up to date with your books takes it out of the back of your mind. You’re not constantly running numbers in your head, making sure you have enough money to make a certain payment. It frees up space in your head to focus on the task at hand. You’re also never having to wonder if your business is where you want it to be from a financial perspective. You will have monthly reports to compare and analyse. Plus, you’ll always know what you owe to CRA throughout the year.
If it’s not your thing, let someone, who’s thing it is, handle it
Think you’re impressing people by doing everything yourself? Think again. The smartest and most respected entrepreneurs know what they don’t know and surround themselves with a team of experts. The only way to grow your business is to delegate and outsource.
Gatekeeper for the finances
If you have a partner or partners, having an impartial person in charge of the finances when issues arise can be a invaluable. They can create and manage approval processes that partners must follow in order to withdraw or spend money. This is also beneficial for solo business owners who don’t necessarily have the best spending habits.
Enables you to build your business
Focus on the prize
Your business needs you to create, sell, produce. Your specific gifts and talents shouldn’t be wasted on business tasks that keep you from doing that. You cannot create strategies or improve on products or services if you’re worried about your books.
Getting an outside perspective
It always helps to have another set of eyes, other than yours on your finances. They may see things that you would never spot…ways of saving money, areas where you could spend more (marketing, training etc). They can see the big picture when sometimes the business owner is too ‘close’ to the business.
Don’t burn out
If you’re doing everything and working countless hours every week, when do you have time to do the things you love? If you’re not living a balanced life, there is no space for you to come up with ideas for new products or services or to expand your business. Don’t fizzle out, your business depends on it.
Thanks for reading! Please comment below and share!
If you’re not sure which small bookkeeping tasks to do and when to do them, here’s a FREE checklist to take the guess work out!
We all want to be more productive. Since starting on my journey as a virtual assistant (I prefer Business Productivity Consultant), I’ve learned that processes and procedures can get complicated very fast. Simple is always best. Here’s how to get more done by doing less:
Take a Break
Why did this make it to the top of the list? Well, because most entrepreneurs and small business owners have a hard time doing it. It seems counterproductive but if you’re working under fatigue and overwhelm your productivity drops as outlined here in this article on Lifehacker. Also, have you ever noticed that the answer to that problem you’ve been trying to solve for days usually pops up when your mind is relaxed?
Touch something once
This is particularly helpful in your email inbox. If you know it’s a newsletter you’re not going to read, then just delete it…right now…don’t hesitate. Better yet, unsubscribe to it if you are no longer getting value from it.
Another great piece of advice is to follow David Allen’s ‘2-minute rule’ outlined in his book ‘Getting Things Done’. If you’ve determined that a task is going to take 2 minutes or less, just get it done. It’s not worth taking the time to add it to your to-do-list and come back to it later. If there’s an request for something in your inbox that is going to take time, put it in your schedule or on your to-do-list immediately, remove it from you inbox and forget about it until it comes up in your schedule.
Know when to outsource
Can someone do it faster and better? Even if it seems expensive it will most likely save money in the long run. It will definitely save you time and your sanity. I wrote more about it in my first blog post here.
Get everything down on paper
If you are feeling overwhelmed and there are a million thoughts flying around in your head, take 10 minutes and write everything on a piece of paper or in a journal. I mean everything. There shouldn’t be any rhyme or reason or structure. As thoughts come up, write then down. Get them out of your head. You’ll feel sooo much lighter and you’ll have a jumping off point for putting together a plan to make those thoughts become a reality.
Dedicate a timeframe to a project or task you are working on and put your phone in another room while you’re focused on that task. Check your phone when you are doing number 1 on this list. Make sure you can’t hear it binging and chirping. Turn it to silent if you must. We all know our phones are distracting but could use a reminder now and then.
Schedule everything in your calendar
Like Marie Forleo says ‘If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real’. I even put things like meditation and walking the dog in my calendar…especially these things…as it reminds you that they are priorities too.
Do one task at a time from start to finish
There is no such thing as multitasking in my opinion. I used to list ‘multitasking’ as a skill on my resume. But when you think about it we can’t really do more than one thing at a time.
Assistants and the like may be able to do several tasks in succession in a fast and efficient way but actually doing more than one thing at once is very difficult (aside from walking and talking or driving and listening to music…). Even if you manage to do more than one thing at once, the quality goes down and the errors go up so you’ll end up reworking anyway. This article suggests multitasking may actually damage your brain.
Keep it simple stupid. Cut out the unnecessary and automate what you can.
If you have multiple email addresses, have them all forward to one and unsubscribe to 90% of those newsletters that clutter your inbox. With the search function in most email platforms now, you even need fewer folders. If you have 2 maybe 3 phones, cut it down to one, if you have 37 reminders and notifications coming up daily on your phone get rid of the ones that aren’t imperative.
The more things around to think about and manage, the more you are going to become overwhelmed and ignore everything. Plus it takes up extra time.
If you need a great resource to help you keep things simple in your business, check out ‘Rework’.
Plan your next day the night before
If you make a solid plan and picture how you want your day to go, it will flow much more efficiently. You’ll also sleep better.
Forget about motivation
It’s amazing what you can do once you discover you don’t need motivation to do it. This hadn’t occurred to me until recently. ‘Losers wait for motivation. Winners just get shit done’. Marie Forleo
Thanks so much for reading! I hope if you implement even a few of these tips, that you can get more done by doing less.
If you have any other productivity tips or if any of the tips I’ve mentioned have impacted you one way or another, please share in the comments below. I’m always looking for more efficient ways to help my clients.
It’s amazing what getting organized can do for your sanity and well-being…at least that’s the way it works for me. I am great at getting other people organized but am not great at keeping my office and the rest of my house organized. I work hard at it but it doesn’t come naturally. When I declutter a room or an area of my home, it feels amazing, like a weight has been lifted. If I can keep it organized the feeling stays with me. I decluttered and organized my personal and business papers about a week ago and shredded so much paper that I overheated my shredder. It was a very exciting Friday night.
If you’re feeling ‘off’ or overwhelmed, you might just need to spend some time decluttering. When I cleared out 5 garbage bags full of clothes I didn’t wear, it suddenly seemed like I had a new and improved wardrobe. I had something to wear! Now I only have clothes I like and wear regularly and there is space to organize them so I’m not sifting through heaps of items crammed into my closet. That’s a huge time waster.
Clear your mind
Decluttering and organizing can clear your mind so you can focus on things you enjoy. Your creative juices will start flowing again. Your mind will have a bit more space and freedom. You’ll also have more time to have fun and relax rather than constantly trying to stay ahead of the mess. Every item I remove from my house that I don’t love or need makes me less stressed. It’s one less thing to dust or move out of the way. And don’t be tricked into thinking that hiding clutter away in a cabinet or closet will make a difference. The cluttered feeling will still be there because you know those things are there.
Less stuff, means less stress which can mean better sleep. Sleep, in my opinion, is one of the most important things we need to get by in this fast-paced world. A cluttered house means a cluttered mind and a cluttered mind makes for a difficult sleep. If sleep is hard to come by for you, start by decluttering the bedroom and see how you feel. It’s much easier to keep your space clean when there is less in it. Less to dust, easier to keep things in their place because everything has a specified place. Not as much tidying to do beforehand.
Decluttering and organizing is cheap and effective therapy. You’re letting go of the past which allows you to focus on what is happening in the present. Decluttering doesn’t mean getting rid of as many things as you can; it means, getting rid of things that don’t make you feel good. Things that bring back bad memories have no business being in your house.
Clearing the clutter makes you more mindful when purchasing new items. Once you’ve gone through all your possessions and only kept what you need or love, you’re not going to want to bring something into the house unless it qualifies. By being more mindful about what you purchase, you’ll also save money…and who can’t benefit from that?
Less stress, more sleep, more freedom to do fun stuff, letting go of negative memories, saving money and being able to focus on the present…all of this adds up to an improved mood and outlook on life. I can’t think of anything else that can have more of an impact on your life than decluttering. It may sound cheesy but I think it’s true. It’s something simple that can start small but makes an amazing impact. The time you spend will come back to you many times over.
I can’t yet call myself a minimalist but would like to someday. Another benefit to clearing the clutter is that you can take it to any level you’d like. Every bit will make a difference. There are many methods to decluttering and you can choose the method you prefer. My outlook on decluttering changed when I read ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. This method works well for me but may not for others. I highly recommend giving it a read to see if it’s for you. You can declutter by room, declutter by item type, toss 100 things in 100 days or just get rid of things as you come across them…whatever works for you. It doesn’t matter how you do it, it just matters that you do it. It will all help to clear some much-needed space.
Now, it’s time for me to order food and gear up for another Friday night of delivery and decluttering. How has decluttering impacted your life? Please share below. Thanks so much for reading!
Up until a few years ago, I thought that if I could take care of everything myself I would feel proud and fulfilled. I would show the world how strong and independent I was…that nothing could stop me! I felt I had something to prove…for some reason…haven’t figured out that reason yet. This included ripping up the horrid carpet in my fixer upper, installing new laminate in my entire house, painting the walls and trim, landscaping my yard, building a new fence, building a concrete walkway, fixing my furnace, fixing the plumbing, installing exterior doors, making my own non-toxic cleaning and beauty supplies, making my own yogurt…the list goes on. I wanted things done right! I wanted things done cheap! Well, everything wasn’t done right and it didn’t end up being all that cheap. I ended up just feeling tired and frustrated. Now there are several partially finished projects around the house and I don’t even have time or energy to fold my laundry.
Save Time and Money
Once I realized an expert could install floor tile, paint the exterior of my house and trim my giant elm trees faster and better than I could. Or that I could buy non-toxic cleaning and beauty supplies and healthy yogurt, my stress level decreased. I was able to focus on my new business and take the time to do the things I actually enjoy doing. Spending hours of my time and testing my patience trying to learn everything (some things the hard way) just didn’t make sense anymore. I don’t have an unlimited budget by any means. But I realize now that hiring an expert can actually save money in the long run.
Who has started a project and ended up having to hire an expert anyway? Then spent twice as much money as you would have if you hired them straight away because you messed something up. How many times do you wish you could focus more on billable work? And less time on doing paperwork, coordination, finding clients or keeping up your social media presence?
Pick Your Battles
I still love to research things to death and I love to learn, but I don’t need to be able to do everything, I need to be able to do some things really well and let the experts take care of the rest. Of course, there are some projects that I enjoy doing. Or that make sense to tackle myself but I’ve learned to pick my battles.
If there’s something that needs to get done but you don’t want to bust your own butt to get it done…don’t. Let someone that likes doing it and does it well take it off your shoulders. You’ll thank yourself for it. You’ll be less stressed and have more time and freedom to spend with your family, to travel, read. Or focus on the core of your business.
The next time you are pulling your hair out trying to get your bookkeeping done. Or calling clients to schedule or reschedule. Or calling because they owe you money (nobody likes to do that for their own business). Or trying to wrap your brain around the world of social media and your business, think about calling an expert to take care of it. Are you ready to pick your battles? Maybe you’ll even win a few.
Focus customizes our services to meet the needs of each individual client. We recognize they require and desire different services and solutions. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is not what we are about. We take pride in working with our clients to design their personal solution based on their skills, needs and objectives for their company.