GUEST EDITOR: Jaharn Giles from Your Creative Start.
Starting a business and managing the day to day comes with its challenges and rewards, of course. However, the biggest obstacles don’t come from finding the right space to work from or finding new clients and customers; the biggest hurdle when working for yourself is doing the work, like, all the work.
Something I have learned since having my own business, as well as talking to other friends who run their own small creative businesses, is that we think we should do everything ourselves. I’m positive this is partly due to managing limited start-up finances and maintaining control over every element of the business. But the real issue I am noticing is that we simply don’t like letting go, nor do we think anyone else can do a better job, even if it means sleepless nights, overflowing inboxes and anxiety inducing to do lists.
Well, that wasn’t good enough for me, so over the last 12 months I have been taking small steps to start automating specific tasks. And let me tell you, I noticed the results almost immediately. Not only has automation saved me time so I can get on doing the things I love most about my business, it’s also reduced my stress levels significantly. Read on to find out what areas in your work life that you can automate.
Bills, bills, bills. There is no way to avoid them but there is a way you can set up systems so you never look at one again. Welcome to direct debits. I have set up multiple direct debits in my business and personal bank accounts with the purpose of never having to “pay” a bill again. I know how much my mobile phone bill costs every month, I know how much my mortgage costs every fortnight, and I know how much I need to pay my team every month. I simply set up direct debits with automated amounts and have the comfort of knowing everything is getting paid and allocated on time. I’ve also set up direct debits into my various savings accounts, which after time, is nice to see them grow!
I used to create my own invoices and honestly, it never bothered me because I only have up to ten or so invoices to produce each month so it’s never really been a problem. However, the culmination of time it takes to create them, send them and chase them up, does bother me. So that’s why I use Xero, an online invoicing and accounting system, which does it all for me and it’s amazing. You’re welcome.
I often get emails from potential clients and podcast listeners asking me for business advice; such as deciding on a name for their business, which platform they should choose for their website, and so on. However, I simply don’t have to the time to independently reply to everyone, nor do I have the time to work for free. Because of this, I have set up a system where I copy and paste specific replies depending on the query and sometimes I get my team to reply for me if it’s appropriate. It’s certainly made my life a lot easier!
As I work with a team, and on large files that need constant updates and approvals, uploading documents onto Dropbox and sending links around started to get a bit messy. We now use Google Drive for almost everything. It’s such a great system as it saves your work, we can access it from anywhere in the world, and clients can make direct feedback or changes in the documents if they need to. Asana is another platform I use with one of my clients to track tasks and projects, it’s a pretty amazing automation tool and certainly makes life easier when we have our WIP meetings every week because we’re across everything.
I use Evernote on my phone as I often come up with lots of ideas when I am doing the most random things; like making dinner, or when I am about to pop in the shower. As soon as an idea or thought pops in to my mind, I jot it down in Evernote on my phone and when I get to my computer (or laptop when I travel) I can access my notes there as well. It’s such a good automation!
With blogs, podcasts and social media taking up so much of our time as creatives these days, scheduling has never been more important. I schedule all my blog posts for Your Creative Start within Squarespace, I schedule all my podcasts with Buzzsprout, and I schedule my Instagram posts using Schedugram. I also use my wall calendar as a reminder when things are coming up – not everything should be automated… Implementing these automation tools has given me more time to get on with the day to day aspects of my business, which I am forever grateful for.
Written by Jaharn Giles