So now you're running your business, getting paid and everything is going swimmingly. And then it's time
to write up your schedule for the next week or month. Planning out what I would need to spend my time on was difficult at first.
As a new business owner it's hard to know how much time you'll actually have to devote to your new venture. And more importantly exactly how much time will have to go toward different activities in your business. - Tweet This
It can be really easy to fall into a trap of thinking that every moment in your business will make you money, or that it will used for the fun things you really go into the business to do. I quickly realized this was absolutely not the case! I spent more time "running" my business than doing the main task of my business (photography).
First things first, what are some of the tasks that take up all this time in the first place?
Branding - creating your logos, deciding on the look and feel of your brand, creating a cohesive style
Web Design - designing, managing and updating your website, and running a blog if applicable
Client Communication - emails, phone calls, and meetings
Advertising & Promotion - creating and managing paid ads, social media, promotions and sales, and get the name out about your business
Accounting/Bookkeeping - record keeping and balancing the finances, making sure taxes are paid, accounts are up to date and accurate
File Management - sending out, processing and organizing contracts, quotes, invoices and all other documents related to your business
Research & Professional Development - looking for ways to optimize your business, your skills in your field and new and creative ways to up the game
Purchasing Supplies - whether you need to buy inventory to resell or paper and pencil or software to keep your business time, it takes research and time
IT - maintaining your computers, tablets, software, etc.
And so on...
Even if you hire help for some of these tasks, you'll need to spend time overseeing them and making sure that you know what's happening in your business. And once your business grows and you contract our work or hire employees, you'll need to be your own human resources as well.
Time It Takes
Every business will need to spend a different amount of time on these tasks based on how much you outsource, which tasks require more attention for your type of business, and how quick you are at any given task.
The trick is to write out a realistic schedule and adjust it often to make sure you leave enough time for every important task on your list. - Tweet This
Once I was able to write out my schedule with all the tasks listed out on a calendar: daily, weekly and monthly, and to watch how long they were taking, I was able to figure out how much of my business time, my work time I needed to devote to each individual task. It took trial and error and consistent adjustment.
I believe that every business will spend between 50 and 70 percent of their time doing tasks other than their main business function to keep their business running. - Tweet This
That seems so high at first. Thinking that I was only spending 30-50% of my time on photography and the rest of my time on all the other tasks, to make sure that my business had new clients, was legal and compliant, and every other day to day task, seemed crazy! But the longer I've been in business the more I see that it's true.
What It Means
So what does it all mean? Who cares how much time I spend on photography vs accounting? Well it means several things.
First, it means that when you're doing the math about how much money you can make you need to calculate the percentages right. If only 30% of your business time can be devoted to your primary, money making task and you only want to work 40 hours per week, that will help you plan ahead and know how much your business will make you, how much you can actually grow it and be realistic about what it will bring in.
Second, it will allow you to realistically set timelines and leave yourself enough time for all the necessary tasks to get done.
The worst thing for your mental health and your chance of burning out is to take on too much. - Tweet This
Realistic planning will help keep your work-life balance, as well as your health and your business on track.
Lastly, it will help you with planning for the future. As your business grows and you increase rates, or gain more customers, or hire more help you'll know what parts of your business require what amounts of effort and you can plan more effectively. Hire in help for the most time consuming or difficult tasks.
What tasks take up the most time in your business? Did I miss an important task that you need to budget time for?