One thing I was very clear on when I decided to build my own business from home and completely walk away from the brick and mortar model, was that I didn’t want to spend all my time talking on the phone or being a slave to my email inbox. I had seen too many of my own friends do it and I didn’t want a part of it. It just wasn’t the type of quality of life I wanted. So from the get go I decided to put in some systems in place to help me free up my time and only be on the phone when truly necessary. Don’t worry the system was very easy to implement and even if you’re on a tight budget you too can do it.
Separated my business phone number from my personal number
It doesn’t seem like rocket science, but you’ll be surprised how many people today use their personal cell phone or house phone for business. And while most people have the common sense to not call at all times of the day and night, unfortunately there is some who just know no boundaries. So for the sake of having some healthy boundaries, have all your business related calls go to a number just for that. Now don’t think you have to go add another cell phone line or bill to your expenses. You can accomplish this with a google talk phone number. It’s free and it even has an app for your phone so you can dial and receive call on your smartphone when you want. Google talk also has a fantastic feature to turn on the do not disturb. So when you’re off the clock all the calls go to voicemail. now the key for this part of the system to work is that you no longer hand out your personal phone number for business and that you notify all business contacts of the change in phone number.
Set business hours
Yes! Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have to be available 24/7. Set some sensible business hours and communicate those hours to your clients. Stick to your hours too! You should only break this rule for true emergencies and from personal experience, there’s very few of those. People will get used to it and respect it. Besides you want to show both your clients and potential business partners, that you have a life. If you have a business that works with sponsoring (direct sales) one of the biggest reasons many get turned off is because they’re afraid they will have to give up their quality of life to grow their business successfully. Everyone needs down time, family time and some fun. And sleep? That’s not negotiable, sleep is a must.
Schedule your posts
There’s so many great platforms to schedule your social media content now days. Facebook has it’s own native feature for business pages plus you can also use some of my favorites. Post Planner, HootSuite, & Sprout Social are all fantastic for this. You can plan your content ahead of time ( usually the night before) and have it post automatically at different times of the day. This only takes 30 minutes of your day. Now all that is left is logging in for a few minutes every few hours to check for comments and replying. If you use the 5 minute rule, your total social media daily time can be as little as 45 min – 1 hour a day! that’s it. Think about all you can do with that extra time. You can create more content, do other income producing activities or even take a power nap in the middle of the day.
Use an email ticket system
For business gmail doesn’t cut it. A ticket system allows you to not only track the conversation with ease but also let’s you know, who you need to follow up with, whether or not you’ve taken too long to respond etc. It also allows you create response templates, and a FAQ database your clients can use to find the answers to many of the most asked questions. And if for some reason your client accidently deletes your email response, they can easily retrieve it from the email system database by logging in. I personally use a service called FreshDesk. It is super easy to set up and you can start with a free account. later on if you need to add more people or emails, you can always upgrade to one of their paid packages.
Don’t be afraid of videos, blogging or podcasts
Part of the reason i started blogging and doing the videos and podcasts was for the sake of my freedom. I found that there was a lot of topics that interested more than one person. And rather than repeating myself to each individual, it was more efficient to do the work once and share it with the world. I honestly beat myself up for not doing it sooner. The minute I started doing this, my support calls decreased dramatically. People where getting the information they needed 24/7 on my blog and social media. This also helped increase my revenue and my free time. What’s not to love? Everyone got what they needed! So step out of the comfort zone. This is one of those things that pays off in the long run. Wordpress is one of my favorite platforms for blogging, but you can use whatever works best for you. Youtube is free and it works and for podcasting I have found that podbean works fantastic and it’s cost efficient. Do your research on what platforms work best for you.
There is going to be some times where you will need to have some lengthy phone conversations to address non emergency issue or provide some training. This is normal and a sign of a healthy business. The key is not having these type of calls everyday at all times of the day. Instead use some services like VCita or Appointy to have your clients and team members schedule an appointment. This let’s you know ahead of time what the call will be about and how to prepare. Now the whole point of this is not about being inaccessible. It’s 100% about being present for your client without distractions. I personally have specific days and time blocks set out for these appointments. And this is time where I don’t do anything else. My clients love it because they have my undivided attention and I love it because I can honor them and not have to be on the run with my calls. I can be relaxed and in an environment where I can fully focus. Yes, no more meeting at the grocery store line or in the parking lot of walmart. (don’t laugh I know some of you do it too) lol.
These are all some basics that if implemented and enforced will give you freedom. Don’t be afraid to test different platforms out. The whole point is that you develop your own system that helps you serve your clients well while giving you freedom and a good quality of life. You will find out that once you get the hang of it, it flows like a breeze and you can get 2 – 3 times more work done in the same amount of time.