*This post is a bit of a departure from our regular posts on writing, but Courtney Rosenfeld (guru of the gig economy) has some fantastic tips here on minimizing distractions and maximizing productivity, good for writers and any other self-starter types.
When you’re ready to quit your day job and work for yourself full-time, where do you start? Whether you’re going all-in on writing or building a freelance business that gives you the flexibility for creative pursuits, running a business of your own requires skills that working for someone else does not. In addition to finding clients and managing projects, you’re responsible for billing, bookkeeping, scheduling, and everything else that comes with running a business. All of that adds up to a lot of time — time that you’re not getting paid.
Managing back-office tasks is key to maintaining profitability and productivity as a solopreneur. While there are tips for managing your time as an entrepreneur, from time-blocking to blocking out distractions, even the most diligent people have a limit to what they can accomplish alone.
Rather than trying to juggle everything the old-fashioned way, take advantage of these options for streamlining your operations so you have more time for the work you’ve set out to do.
Automation is the most affordable way to streamline a business, and it’s surprisingly accessible for solopreneurs. Many of the leading automation tools offer inexpensive packages for very small businesses, giving entrepreneurs the ability to scale without a huge outlay of cash.
Automation is best for simple, routine tasks.
Taking appointments by phone is time-consuming and frequently distracts you from other work. For solopreneurs running an appointment-based business, an appointment management app that allows clients to set their own appointments based on availability is an easy way to free up hours every week. In addition to booking, a scheduling app should send automated reminders so you and your clients stay on the same page.
Chasing down unpaid invoices is as awkward as it is tedious. That’s why invoicing is such a great candidate for automation. With automated reminders and recurring invoices, you can get paid faster without spending your time following up with clients.
Social media posting
Batching social media content is far more efficient than coming up with posts on the fly, but it doesn’t solve the problem of posting at the right time to maximize engagement. While there are a variety of social media management tools on the market, Buffer is the most popular thanks to its low price point — only $15 a month for a single user with up to eight social accounts.
Some tasks are too complex to assign to a software program. However, just because a job requires a human touch doesn’t mean it has to be yours. There are a number of routine tasks that solopreneurs can affordably outsource.
Data entry is rarely a good use of a business owner’s time. Luckily, it’s one of the most affordable jobs you can easily outsource. Freelance data entry specialists start as low as $13 an hour. However, while data entry isn’t a complicated job, it does require certain skills. To minimize errors that cause problems down the line, Upwork suggests making sure any potential freelancers is highly detail-oriented with strong typing skills.
Bookkeeping and taxes
Unless you have a background in accounting, it’s generally unwise to handle your own bookkeeping and taxes. Not only does it expose you to errors, but it’s also much more time-consuming when you’re not sure what you’re doing. From freelancers to full-service firms, there’s a range of bookkeeping services available to small businesses.
Podcasting is a great way to grow your audience, but editing your own audio is time-consuming and doesn’t bring the best results. Outsourcing to a professional podcast editor takes this task off your plate and helps you achieve the high-quality content you need to attract listeners.
There are perks to running a business alone, but doing everything yourself isn’t one of them. By finding ways to reduce back-office work, you free up bandwidth to focus on your primary pursuits. Not only does that increase your business’s output, but it also helps you avoid burnout and maintain the passion that brought you here.
Courtney Rosenfield started her career in the gig economy after several years of enviously watching others do the same thing. She started Gigspark to be a resource and a first step for people who are looking to join the gig economy, either to supplement their income or as a way to fulfill their dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.