This article was created by BlogHer for Oracle NetSuite.
You’ll be hard-pressed to meet a business owner who isn’t skeptical of the ever-elusive work-life balance. More often than not, it feels like a myth we spend our entire careers attempting to make a reality. Whether you’re a seasoned serial entrepreneur or a rookie, I’d bet some part of your life has been sacrificed to reach ambitious goals. It’s just part of the game. However, the silver lining is that there are some small but effective ways to work smarter, not harder when you’re hustling through a surprise pivot or focused on scaling.
If you’ve been reevaluating your business during the pandemic or simply want to level-up, here are 5 tactics shared during the BlogHer Biz “Streamlining Your Success” workshop that’ll bolster all of your hard work.
Commit to Your Intention
“Knowing your why” isn’t just a throwaway cliche. There’s actually something to it. If you’re constantly indecisive about important business decisions, recommit to your original intention. Adjustments and pivots are inevitable and sometimes, your original goal gets lost in the sauce. Find it if you must!
And if your outlook has changed, settle on a new intention and commit to that. One more time for the people in the back—commitment is key.
“I always set an intention,” said Carrie Augustine, Senior Industry Principal for Oracle Netsuite. “My biggest priority is customers.” Since Netsuite is a cloud business software suite that literally does it all—accounting, subscription billing, and tax management, to name a few—she also prioritizes specific data targets. But ultimately, numbers aren’t the end-all, be-all.
“Sometimes data isn’t perfect but I always go back to the intention.”
Revisit Your Job Description
When you’re part of a team, it’s relatively easy to stay in your lane. For instance, if I’m the graphic designer for a makeup brand, I know my priority is creating visuals and ensuring that they are aligned with the goals of other departments and the company as a whole.
However, if I’m a solopreneur or small business owner who doesn’t have the luxury of a team, knowing your own boundaries gets tricky because you’re taking on work that is typically delegated to multiple people. Regardless of your circumstance, it’s much easier to streamline when you know your role. This is especially important in a year as life-changing as 2020.
“Regular is not quarterly right now. What you were doing in March, you’re definitely not doing in October,” said influencer and business coach Katchet Jackson-Henderson during BlogHer Biz. “Know what it takes to do your job. We’re caught up in doing these daily tasks, but do you know what your job description is?”
If you’re a business owner or influencer, “take the time to go through that exercise” of writing out your job description. It may seem tedious, but “knowing what is required versus what is optional is super important.”
Ask for Help
Plus, once you’ve reviewed your job description, you’ll know what you need help with. “Ask for help, whether it be through a search, a webinar, or whatever it may be. Nobody knows everything,” said Amanda Afieche, Vice President of Finance & Administration at T3 Micro.
Additionally, certain digital platforms can provide long-term help as you grow in your weak spots. For instance, if you need help managing your business’ budget and e-commerce operations, an all-in-one platform like NetSuite can take that work off your hands while you focus on what you’re best at.
In addition to your job description, Augustine recommends “taking a look at what you own and what is necessary to run the business” so you can invest in tools and/or people that cover all bases.
But as far as tools are concerned, automation is a standout feature you want. “I like to look for tools that work hard for me. If they offer some sort of automation…that’s what I’m looking for,” added Jackson-Henderson.
So you’ve identified your intention, confirmed your job description, and found help—now what? Get to planning, but don’t go all in on a big task or goal. For Jackson-Henderson, identifying where she wants to go and “looking at the steps” it would take to get there “in a backward motion” has been a gamechanger.
This also makes it easy to get super micro about the building process and ensure that you’re not missing any growth opportunities. Backward planning is a tactic that can be applied to virtually any type of business or job role at varying levels. For instance, if your goal is to make $100K in three years, you may start by working backward from your goal year and breaking down tasks for each year leading up to it.
A less loftier example: “Let’s say your goal is you want to be on TV,” said Jackson-Henderson. “You probably need to start by getting some on-camera training and how can you do that? By showing up on [Instagram] Stories more. Little things stack up to make a big impact.”
Know Your KPIs
Finally, master your numbers, or KPIs (key performance indicators). “It’s not always fun, but you need to make a commitment to constantly review your budget,” said Adeiche. “We set KPIs. We continue to monitor and pivot when something isn’t working. If you don’t understand the numbers, learn them.”
When setting and evaluating your own KPIs, make sure you’re always prioritizing your specific needs. Whereas KPIs may be solely driven by product sales, for one company, internal resources may be a majority factor for another.
For instance, Augustine added that “budget-driven decisions aren’t just about cutting cost with a vendor but knowing what you’re receiving in return for the spend.” (This also reiterates the importance of knowing your overall vision which guides essentially all of your decision-making, including those associated with finances.)
Additionally, Jackson-Henderson recommended knowing “the numbers of your competition” and using those stats as “something to measure against.” If you’re an influencer taking things to the next level and considering yourself a business, this is especially important.
Want more money-saving (and money-making) advice for streamlining your business? Rewatch BlogHer Biz for more entrepreneurial hacks.