Productivity Hacks To Streamline Operations As A Solopreneur
In our new series, Selfmade U, we’ll tackle the most common questions and pain points that come up for business owners with tips and tricks from Selfmade, a virtual business coaching program, led by Brit + Co founder Brit Morin and sponsored by Office Depot OfficeMax. We’ll hear from Selfmade alum, business coaches, and Brit herself on what it takes to run a successful business and make it as an entrepreneur.
Staying on task can be challenging when you’re an entrepreneur. You’re wearing multiple hats and being pulled in all sorts of directions, being often the sole decision maker. “I'm a big list maker,” says Leeanna Gantt, founder of tooktake, a no-tech reminder to take daily meds and supplements. “I make a list at the end of the day, and in the morning, once I've seen what's really happening that day, I'll usually revise my list.”
After receiving breast cancer treatment, Leeanna created a system for tracking all of her medication and realized the system could work for others too. “I thought it can't just be me who can't do this one simple thing. It's not that hard, but for some reason it is that hard,” she recalls.
Even though Leanna was starting to place tooktake in stores, she looked to Selfmade to help her expand her business, earning an Office Depot OfficeMax scholarship to the program. “The scholarship allowed me to join the Selfmade community, which was huge. I get so much advice from the webinars and when I have a really simple question, I have a community to throw it out to and get suggestions from them. It has been so helpful.” (Tooktake is now sold in major drugstores across the U.S.).
Beyond community, the biggest takeaway from Selfmade was learning different organizational tips, says Leeanna. “Just the other day, [Selfmade business coach] Emily Merrell did a webinar about managing your emails in your inbox, which was very helpful for me.” Some of the inbox hacks she learned in the webinar? Consolidate your email accounts, set up folders, use filters, and install Gmail extensions to help streamline your business.
Here are more hacks to help you organize your business and stay productive.
- Focus on singular tasks. “I think I'm much more efficient when I focus on one thing at a time,” says Leeanna. Dedicating a block of time to one task, whether it’s answering emails, creating marketing content, fulfilling shipment orders, will help you get those tasks done and done well without distractions. “I check my emails first thing, and then I will focus on shipping and ordering and then outreach,” adds Leeanna.
- Delegate things that are less important to you. “I've delegated things that are usually something that I really don't feel very comfortable doing,” says Leeanna. This doesn’t have to be a full-time employee. But if you need help with copywriting, packaging, accounting, marketing, you can find services to help you when you need it so you can focus on what you love most (and being more productive along the way).
- Create an office space that works for you. Having an organized and fully equipped office space can help you accomplish more in your business. Make sure you have sufficient space, comfortable seating, and the technology to make your days run smoother. “After our printer died, I'd been putting off buying a new one. I finally ordered one from Office Depot, which has been a huge, huge help,” says Leeanna.
- Use tech to streamline communication. There are various messaging tools to help you communicate with your employees, clients, and suppliers to keep track of conversations and tasks. “I use Basecamp to communicate with the people I work with because it gives us one central place to put everything,” says Leeanna. “That way I know everyone's seeing the most up to date things.”
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Finding a business community of like-minded entrepreneurs can bring a wealth of information that can help you move along more smoothly on your journey. “Connecting with other product-based businesses through Selfmade is so helpful when I'm not sure if I'm going in the right direction,” says Leeanna. She’s able to get other opinions with the experience to back it up. “One of my friends from Selfmade suggested some other avenues to reach customers because she actually would be a customer but hadn't heard of the product. I asked her questions like, ‘How would I reach you with this? She had some really good ideas, which was really helpful.”
- Get rest. A great night’s sleep, taking breaks throughout the day, and finding ways to recharge will make you a more productive human while avoiding burnout. “I'm one of those people who needs a lot of sleep to think clearly,” says Leeanna. “I've been trying to focus on making time during my day to do things to take care of myself, even if it's just to go for a walk between meetings or do a 10-minute yoga session, so I don't feel run down.”
In fact, entrepreneurs may be more at risk of burnout than traditional workers because they tend to be more passionate about their work while not having a lot of support. So take those breaks and get that sleep, because in the end, the experience is so rewarding. “I think everyone should try to be an entrepreneur,” says Leeanna. “You learn so much about yourself and it's really fun and empowering. Selfmade means I have the confidence to give this a try on my own and even though I found a really supportive group, I'm really proud that it's something that I'm doing.”
Illustration by Daniela Jordan-Villaveces
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