You’ve probably recently quit your cozy 9-5 steady paycheck job. You may be excited and thrilled one moment, while crying internally and freaking out the next. Let’s look at the positives: no more micro-managing bosses, annoying chatty co-workers, and endless meetings that should’ve been a simple email.

Fun stuff, right? Not exactly, now you ARE the boss. You’re accountable for timelines and deadlines. You have to communicate effectively with your client base and prospective leads. And as my mother always instills in me, “be sure to work smarter and not harder.”

Lucky you, here are top 5 essentials for new small business owners, such as yourself, to get more done with less effort.

1. Ask for Help

There are 28 million small businesses in the United States alone. That means that are at least 28 million small business owners running around trying to get things done! It doesn’t have to be this hectic.

You now have the responsibility to run a business, maintain a schedule, and get things done faster and smarter.

Stay humble and ask for help. Not only will you be a step closer to getting your question answered, but you will have boosted the professional self-image of who helped you since you put them in a position of authority that they were of useful assistance. These small actions will reward you later on your path of entrepreneurship since whenever you come to mind, positive feelings will come in the person’s mind; and who knows, a sweet referral of new business may come from it.

2. Systemize a Workflow

In order to get those tasks done quickly and in an intelligent manner, you need to explore a frameworks to process and organize all it takes to stay on top.

  • Trello is an excellent tool if you’re more comfortable visualizing your to-do list;
  • Insightly is another CRM that is great for a team just starting out, free for two users, and you’re more of a lists type of person;
  • And it’s never out of style to “think on ink” with pen and paper.

3. Focus

Unless your business is a brick-and-mortar model, you have the awesome liberty of working from anywhere in the world. And that includes in your pajamas in bed. This is dangerously comfortable when nobody is creeping over your shoulder. Figure out your most productive working conditions. This could be a spare room at home where you can close the door to daily distractions, at night when the house is quiet, a shared office space such as WeWork, or a quiet coffee shop in a sleepy neighborhood. Find out which method is best for you and be consistent.

4. Track Expenses

This is something I’ve long struggled to gain a footing of becoming a serious business owner. You’d think that even though you don’t have a large staff of employees that it’s easier to keep a record of finances as you’re a one-person show; you still need to account for taxes, savings, subcontractors, virtual assistants, and send out invoices in a timely manner.

A few services I’ve come across are:

My background is in art & design, there’s no way I have a head for math. Yet it’s not an excuse to save my receipts and store them in a shoe box praying to the SME gods that the IRS won’t come after me (disclosure: they did, five years ago and it was a terribly expensive lesson I had to learn the hard way).

5. Relax

Push comes to shove, you’ve a water-tight deadline, and you cannot afford to be dropped from this contract; what do you do? You take a break! Sounds counter-intuitive, but you will get more done when you give your brain and body a break since it’s going on overload and you’ll fry yourself.

Working while stressed, will force your body to make other poor decisions. Not eating right or getting adequate exercise. So step back, go walk the dog, pet your cat, and stare out the window for a bit.

The key here is not to receive anymore stressful stimuli that makes your eyes feel as if they’re about to pop out on their own. Part of the reason you decided to become a business owner was to lead a more joyful life, right? So chill.

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