You can’t do it all no matter what you think.

I have spoken to so many successful self employed service providers that have the never fading anxiety that everybody is doing it better than them. It’s not so much about the quality of the product as it is about all the other stuff that surrounds running a business. Networking, bookkeeping, follow up, marketing, planning, new product/service development……the list goes on. Ask even the most successful personal trainer, massage therapist, or stylist and they will likely talk about the administrative and marketing aspects of their business in a way that would make any audience believe that everyone was doing it better than them.

Why the insecurity from even the most successful professionals? Because running a business alone is no different than running a business with a partners or employees. It requires keeping all the admin and marketing tasks on track to achieve long term success. When it’s all on you, the solo entrepreneur, this is a daunting responsibility. We often forget that there are only 24 hours in each day and that sleep is required for a few of those hours to maintain sanity. If one continues to believe that they should indeed be able to do the work of three people and repeatedly fall short of their own expectations as a result, a cycle of self doubt and inferiority can easily overshadow all the amazing things that are probably being done well. We’ve all been there.

Start with a reality check
Like any good plan, you need to start with a reality check regarding your time, resources, and expertise. It is unrealistic to expect that you can be a great service provider, accountant, client relationship manager, marketer, networker, technologist, and social media expert all at the same time. Unfortunately, this is the burden we often place on ourselves. The key is to hit the reset button on our expectations and decide which of these things we have the time, energy, and expertise to tackle. The first and most important is our core service or product. If that’s not in shape, then all bets are off. (need a whole series of posts to talk about keeping your product sharp) The rest of the stuff that supports the product or service should be divided into three categories:
1) Things that you have time and expertise to do well
2) Things that you have time to learn and are able to achieve.
3) Things that require another person or resource to get done

The tendency of many of the best trainers, therapist, stylists, and other self employed service providers is to either ignore the things that should be in number 3 or to place too many items in number 2. Another mistake is to assume that number three means hiring a person or paying a third party consultant.

The world has changed thanks to technology
Hate networking events? You’re not alone. If you need to network, it’s probably far more efficient to do some of this through social media. You’ll be amazed what can be accomplished by creating a small network online with only your clients, family, and friends. All of these people like you and want to help you. A simple request for referrals every 4-6 months in between a few “what’s new with me” updates can go a long way. You don’t need to tweet 50 times a day to connect with people.

Does the thought of bookkeeping make you sick to your stomach? No problem, hire it out or take a weekend to learn one of the applications made for small business like Freshbooks. So many companies are developing products that are streamlined for small business by understanding that having 500 features is not always a good thing. Having just the features you need IS.

Still managing your clients on a note pad? Try the Artichoke Mobile Client Management System that enables professionals like you to manage a client base from a mobile device. Clients notes, payment tracking, balances, appointment reminders, and all the other stuff you want to do but don’t have time to do, done well without wasting time in front of a computer.

After interviewing and getting to know so many successful and talented service providers over the last 13 years, I have nothing but respect for the passion and dedication that make a success possible in these professions. So my challenge to you is to appreciate your strengths, understand your limitations, and fill in the gaps with the right partners and tools to have a fine tuned machine. You’ll make more and have more time to enjoy it.

Justin Shelby
Co-Founder
Artichoke Mobile Client Management
Works for you wherever you’re working.