If your creativity kick-started your small business, you might have found that as your business has grown, you have less time to do what you love most.
And it’s no easy task to balance design and innovation at the same time as handling all your admin - the struggle of being grateful for orders and desperate for time is real!
While you don’t always see the payoff right away, creativity is essential to entrepreneurship. But without a good structure and an ability to get tasks done, your business might never get off the ground and you'll quickly see issues crop up.
So finding a sense of balance can really be the makings of success.
But how much time should you spend coming up with ideas and actually following through with them as well as managing your day to day processes?
Whether you’re a very small business or a well-established SME, if you’ve landed here then you’re probably looking for the answer to that question. So let’s take a look at ways you can make that balancing act a little bit easier:
If you’re a one-person-band in your business and you’re struggling to handle admin and creation, it might be time to hire a helping hand, even just to package orders or handle the customer service.
Recruiting for a Small Business
Before you hire into your SME, you’ll need to figure out:
- Where to advertise the job - this could just be on your social media if you have a large following
- The job description - spend some time thinking about exactly what you need a hand with
- How many hours you’ll need them to cover - be sure to let them know early if you’re hoping to increase this over time
Recruiting can be daunting if it’s your first time, but the best thing you can do is to be clear about what you’re looking for. Be clear if it’s not many hours that you hope it can increase as the business grows and it’s a good idea to have your own timeline of when you expect that to be.
With the way the job-market is booming at the minute you’re bound to gain some interest even with a very small (or non-existent!) advertising budget. Here’s more small business recruiting tips.
If you already have a team and you’re still struggling with balance, try and find the root cause of the issue.
For example, do you struggle taking a step back from the tasks you hired people to fulfill? Are you finding it hard to come up with new ideas on your own? Do you want to give employees more to do but are worried about overloading them?
No matter what the diagnosis is, the treatment should always be open and honest conversations with your team. Try:
- Conversations about job roles - Have 1 on 1 discussions with everyone in your team, asking them to bring their favourite and least favourite tasks to the call. Speak to each of them about their role, where they see it going and what they want to do more/less of so you can see where you each have capacity to help one another. Giving your colleagues balance could help you do the same.
- Creativity workshops - If you feel at a bit of a loss in terms of newness, design, ideas or innovation, use your team for inspiration. Even if you're normally the ideas person, bouncing those ideas off other people can go a long way in getting those creative juices flowing.
- Outsourcing - You hired your team for set reasons and they may all be happy within their jobs as well as you are. Maybe you already have creativity workshops, you’ve got someone covering every basis but there’s just those one or two jobs that don't really sit with anyone. Outsourcing is a great way to make sure specific tasks get done to an expert level and you can be flexible on how much time is spent on them.
People are the biggest resource we have, so make sure you’re using your team efficiently to help you - it’s what you hired them for!
Working late to get everything done? Can’t get out of emails? Skipping lunch breaks?
Assigning yourself set times to complete certain tasks means you can be more productive and focused within that timeframe and end your day knowing you’ve spent as much time as you needed on each task.
It can be great if you constantly feel like you’re being pulled in different directions, either by colleagues or other responsibilities.
And you can gain good insight into how long your daily jobs take when completed one by one and how long you actually spend doing them. Remember, balance doesn’t always mean spending 50/50 on each job.
Here’s more on how to start time blocking but one of our top tips is to set alarms to start and finish emails - a never ending inbox can be the death of productivity and motivation. So restricting your email time can work wonders and means you won’t have to keep checking while you’re in the middle of other things.
And time blocking may seem like an impossible task some days, especially as a creative - you can’t dedicate 2 hours to design if you’re just not in the headspace or you might get too into the process and feel like you don’t want to stop. It’s important to let yourself be flexible when you need to, even if that’s just swapping some morning tasks into the afternoon.
Work by Task Not Time
Time blocking doesn’t work for everyone and that’s okay because there are so many time-managing methods out there.
Working by task instead of time might make more sense for your business - for example if you have deadlines but timeframes to get things done change a lot in your line of work.
Working one task at a time means no multi-tasking. This might sound counterproductive at first, but actually focusing on one job at a time often means we get them done quicker and to a higher standard.
One study by Harvard psychologists found that we spend almost 47% of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we’re currently doing and you might be spending even more than that if you’re juggling admin and creative time. So by ‘single tasking’, you can put your mind to one thing and complete it without interruption. This method restricts you from getting distracted or flitting between your to-dos.
And if you feel like you can’t get your mind off other tasks, one rule we think everyone should employ is entrepreneur Steve Olenski’s 2 minute rule,which suggests completing any task that you know will only take you 2 minutes or less immediately. For example, scheduling a meeting.
Be careful though, make sure one 2 minute task doesn’t turn into ten 2 minute tasks!
Use the Tools You Have Efficiently
There are lots of tools you can use to help you prioritise your to-do list and generally manage your admin better, such as monday.com.
If you prefer a hard paper copy for your day-to-day tasks you should opt for a to-do table instead of a to-do list, so you can include:
- Quick tasks
- Long tasks
- Tasks that can be carried over to tomorrow
You could also separate your table into creative tasks and admin, so you can make sure you’re spending time on each every day.
This breaks down your day and means you don’t have to feel guilty for not getting everything done. But it’s a great idea to have a digital to-do for ongoing tasks, even if you just put it all into a spreadsheet - you can find lots of templates for these online.
It’s also important to take time looking at the tools you do use to make sure you’re using them as efficiently as possible. For example, when you use Smart Send, are you making the most of its Rule Manager feature?
Rule Manager can save you bags of time by automating your imports so you don’t have to input everything manually each time. You can also automate your orders by activating Auto Send.
And if you’re already making the most of Parcel2Go’s services, take a look at your other time managing tools to see if you could be optimising them. And if you’re reading this thinking, huh, what tools? - check out this list of the best time managing apps of 2021.