OK, so I know that when you’re first starting out as an entrepreneur, there’s a tendency to accept all of the projects that come your way. As in all… like A-L-L.
Luckily it’s a natural inclination and you’re not just bonkers.
Chalk it up to perhaps being excited to establish your expertise and credibility—you want to show the world that you can do anything! Or maybe, like many first-timers, you’re worried about where you’ll get your next “paycheck” so you accept whatever comes your way to create that all important “padding”.
You know, that “just in case” stash of cash.
That’s great and all, but there is a downside my friend. Because of this attitude, you may find yourself with more projects and clients than you can handle!
If you do, don’t panic. Instead, look on the bright side… this is a great opportunity to test your limits and a good lesson on delivering excellent customer service, despite all obstacles.
No, seriously… stay positive and really… don’t panic. It’s the first step to surviving this little conundrum you’ve landed yourself in, and if you’ll just relax… I’ll tell you why.
Oh and the second step (and all the steps thereafter) you’ll find below too. Juicy!
OK, so first of all…
Manage Your Resources
As a smart and savvy entrepreneur (which I know you are)… consider all of your resources. It’s likely that time is the most valuable. (At least it is to me, so it MUST be to you too, right?) So the first thing you need to do is to assess each project and determine how many hours you need to dedicate to it.
For big projects, list down all of the tasks and assign the number of hours you need to complete it—it gets a little less overwhelming when you cut things up into bite-sized pieces.
You can then refine your schedule from there.
Just don’t forget… deadlines are sacred! Treat ‘em like Jesus. Got it?
Your Talent is Also a Resource
If you have time limitations, you can at times make up for it by working more efficiently and being very creative. There are lots of organization tools—free ones, too!—that you can use to schedule your time, organize your crap… um… I mean projects, track the progress of your work and do virtually everything else you can ever think of. Like ever.
Wait, scratch that. OK, so the only thing they don’t do is feed your dog… when will someone make that tool darn it?
This is also why on-going training is so important, whether self-taught or through a course. If you have skill gaps, address it with professional development to keep you working effectively. When you’re learning, you’re growing, and that’s just a fact Jack. Ask anyone.
And the moral of the story is? The more you know, the more efficient you are; thus the more work you can accomplish.
See how that works?
Just remember to play to your strengths. Don’t waste countless hours trying to learn a new skill just because you think you should. If that skill gap is better served by outsourcing to someone more qualified… do it already!
And if you’re still floundering for time even after all that… consider hiring help. As in regular help not just help for one-off tasks. There’s no guts or glory in working 80 hours a week just to accommodate all of your projects. It’s neither healthy nor productive and totally defeats the purpose of going all entrepreneur in the first place.
So. If you start feeling like you need a clone… wake the frack up and hire one already! (Just make sure it’s a good one.) We clear?
And really, there are lots of online job pools to choose from. I mention a few good places to hire outsourcers here. Just remember to factor in the times that you need to interview them and train them to do the tasks that you assign them. Yes, it’ll take a bit of time in the earlier stages, but it’ll be well worth it, I promise.
Especially when you find the real gems to work with… that rocks!
Learn to Say NO.
While your clients will love you for always accepting demands and additional work from them, it won’t do you and your client any good if you don’t put a lid on it when you need to.
Seriously, you can’t always be the Yes-Man—and nobody (I mean nobody!) respects a pushover. Besides that your other clients will end up suffering too and that’s no good. Yick.
Not to mention a tired worker is of no use to anyone—you’re more prone to make mistakes, miss the important details and be slow as Moses with your progress. Double yick.
If you don’t have the time to do it or you don’t have the ability to fulfill the task, just be honest and tell your client that you can’t. You’ve simply got too much on your plate. I can assure you they will appreciate that much more than a bald-faced lie and a lack of results 4 weeks later.
And someday (I predict in the near future with my all-seeing, all-knowing 6th sense!) you’ll reach a level where you’re much more comfortable, and have a steady influx of regular clients. And because of that neat little phenomenon… you can then afford to choose your projects carefully.
And even more fun… fire the clients that suck! Yep, I said it.
Some clients suck.
It’s just the way of the world. And it’s quite liberating when you’re in a position to tell that sucky client (politely of course!) “Thanks, but no thanks… I don’t think we’d be a good fit”. And then secretly cackle to yourself at the cheap thrill you got from it.
That’s called entrepreneurial freedom baby.
And yes, admittedly reaching that level takes a bit of time. But I promise you’ll get there.
Every successful professional relationship needs trust, which you can only build through constant communication and time—but once you do, it can be oh so very profitable for both you and your client, not to mention satisfying as hell.
And My Final Recommends?
Choose clients and projects that you know will challenge you—projects and clients that will allow you to grow, both as a person and as a business owner.
At the same time, consider your core competencies. Meaning where and what you’re good at. While it’s nice to be the Jack of all trades, it’s still better to specialize in something—to create a niche and develop it to its fullest potential.
Not only will this help build your reputation and will keep clients coming back for more—it will also incite new clients to clamor for your attention. And that’s like some weird entrepreneur music to the proverbial ears, wouldn’t you say?