Business Management – Being Your Own Boss Part 2

Continuing on from Being Your Own Boss Part 1… this post will discuss building your environment, scheduling your time, and measuring your progress.

Building Your Environment

As your own boss, you have the luxury and responsibility of establishing your own working environment. Instead of being subject to your employer’s ideas or limitations, you get to choose what your environment will look like. Without going off on a tangent about how our environment affects our psyche and ability to work well (one of the many subjects I enjoy studying), let me say that this is a big deal not only in how effective you can and should be, but in being at peace in your mind and heart. Some ideas you may want to consider:

  • Colors – colors play a big part in our mental state. Some colors help you relax, others help you stay alert and energized, others help you think creatively, and others cause discord and anxiety. Not everyone reacts the same to all colors due to personality, but there are similarities. For example, burnt orange, grey, and yellow are aggravators that cause mental blocks, frustration, and confusion for me when I am trying to focus on a given task.
  • Windows – If you can work in front of or around windows to the outside, you will find a greater rhythm to your work and day. There is something basic about being a human and working from sunrise to sunset. Not only this, but the lighting, scenery, and nature will help you work with greater clarity and focus.
  • Plants – You might think I am going over the top here, but plants bring an amazing dynamic to any environment, especially if you do not have a window. Add another living being to your daily work and see what it does!
  • Noise – reduce distracting noise to a minimum, and if this isn’t possible, try adding some classical music or smooth jazz on softly in the background as some white noise. Music is great at keeping your mind engaged while working on different tasks. Unfortunately for me, music and accounting do not mix well, so instead I listen to podcasts which help me keep my mind engaged while allowing me to work with technical numbers and transactions without losing focus.
  • Food – healthy, nutritious food and water at regular intervals throughout the day is a key part of my environment. I always have a snack and water near my desk to maintain good blood sugar levels. Keep away from the junk as this will cause dramatic fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and ability to work consistently and focus clearly throughout the day.
  • Ergonomics – not everyone is at a desk like I am, but in every job, you should consider the ergonomics of your tools and work environment. Consider that you may be doing similar tasks for the next 30 years and that your body can use all the help it can get. Keeping your body in good physical condition is important to any sustainability in your life.

Scheduling Your Time

Just as it is good to set the environment, it is also good to set your schedule. Your schedule will vary and change a little week to week, but it is a good idea to think through exactly how much time you want to spend on your business. If you have a job and the business on the side, it may be 2 hours a day after work between 7 and 9 through the weeks with weekends off, or an 8 hour day on Saturday. If you work on your business, you may want to only work 30 hours per week, or 50. Either way, make sure your model is sustainable for your life and that you set and keep a schedule of the amount of time each week. For me, I am starting out with 40 hours per week, the usual M-F, 8-5. However, I have a timeline to where I am bringing these hours down to 20-25 hours per week after 1 year and looking to begin work with different non-profits and ministries around the world. That is one of the goals I am working toward.

So you have set the schedule for your work and have the time set aside; what are you going to do with your time? How much time do your spend on billable time that you can charge to customers or bill through to a physical product? This should not be more than 30 hours a week in the beginning of your business if you are looking to work 40 hours a week. This is because you will need to schedule in marketing, building processes and structure, your website/blog (yes, I think every business should have one) and working on things in your business that you cannot bill out. If you do not take the time to build your business in a healthy manner, you will find that you are consistently going from task to task putting out fires instead of building long-term sustainability into your business.

Measuring Your Progress

Here is where you get to be tough on yourself and put yourself to the test. The goals that you set for your lifestyle and your business in the beginning need to be reviewed and tested against what you actually achieved. You need to be brutally honest with yourself here and step up to be your own boss.

In setting up goals, set objectives with milestones along the way with different steps and actions you are going to take to get there. Plan out the path you want to go on for the next year to take your business where you want it and go after it. The classic business acronym for this process is SMART:

  • Specific – make your goals as specific as you can with a clear definition of success or failure.
  • Measurable – put a number to it – 1 client a week, 1,000 visitors to your website a month. Make sure you can measure your progress.
  • Actionable/Achievable – make sure you have goals you can actually do something about, and that are in your sphere of influence.
  • Reasonable – your goals and milestones should be reasonable but challenging for you to shoot for.
  • Timebound – make at least monthly goals for what you are setting out to do. I like to break this down on a weekly basis so that I have something to work toward on a continual basis.

If you are having a little trouble with this, seek out an older business owner who would be willing to speak into your life and business. Take them out to lunch and ask them to help you review where you are at in your business and where you are going. Organize as much of this as you can beforehand and don’t waste their time, but this is still a good option to look into.

Wrapping up

That is a bit of a look into the way I set up my business model and how I manage myself, along with what I have observed from successful and unsuccessful business owners. I hope some of these thoughts have spurred you on to think about what you need to change or add to how you manage yourself and your business. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, or comment on this post with any questions or thoughts!

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