© 2000, by Harmony Major
One of the top three reasons for running an online business is usually to have more free time. However, it seldom works out that way. Running any business full-time can be stressful and time-consuming. So, here are a few destressing tips to help keep your business from consuming YOU:
1. TAKE THE WEEKENDS OFF.
Running a business full-time doesn't mean that you have to (or NEED to) work 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Take off weekends, holidays, AND random vacation time to avoid home business burn-out. Rest your brain.
Keep a tight focus when you work, and automate your business as much as possible. As a matter of fact, work ONLY as much as you have to. That's why you quit your day job, (or plan to), right?
Being able to work when you want and play when you want is one of the greatest advantages of running your own business -- and it's also one of the most quickly forgotten.
2. HIRE AN ASSISTANT WHEN YOUR BUSINESS PICKS UP.
You can't do everything yourself, and you shouldn't try. When business picks up, the "hired help" can relieve a lot of your stress. But how do you know when you need to hire a helping hand?
a) When you can't comfortably handle answering your daily email in less than 48 hours.
Taking a week or more to answer emails, (or not answering it at all), can put you out of business FAST. On the Internet, negative word of mouth can spread like wildfire. Why risk it?
b) When you can't take a day off without losing a lot of the progress you've made in your business thus far.
Admittedly, there ARE a few things that can't be put off until later. In these cases, your assistant can either help with the task itself, or run the basics of the business while you focus all your energy on meeting that killer deadline.
c) When you have more than five on-going projects to maintain at any one time.
By "on-going" projects, I mean things that you need to work on constantly, like publishing an ezine, maintaining a website, updating a membership site, or creating a new product. If you publish three ezines, have two websites, and are writing two new books, here is where your assistant can help out with the average load.
3. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU JUST CAN'T AFFORD A FULL-TIME ASSISTANT.
An assistant doesn't necessarily have to be a full-time employee. And, instead of paying your hired help by the hour, you can pay them on a "per assignment" basis. This can save money that would otherwise go to an employee benefits package, and can eliminate the need for extra tax time paperwork that the full-time employee would create.
To go a step farther, you can have several part-time assistants, with each one specializing in a different area of your field. This will be much better than having one "Jack of all trades" that doesn't know a heck of a lot about anything specific to your niche.
For example, if you're a Web design consultant, you can have an assistant to do each of the following specialized tasks
a) Handle return email and phone calls
b) Create logos for your client websites
c) Find resources and articles for your website and/or ezine
d) Install and create CGI scripts for you and/or your clients' sites
e) Edit and spell check both you and your clients' websites
f) Schedule new client website evaluations, and follow up on past clients' results
4. FIND AT LEAST ONE PERSON WHO CAN HANDLE YOUR BUSINESS IN CASE OF ILLNESS, EMERGENCIES, OR VACATIONS.
You'll need to train someone you trust to make intelligent business decisions in the event of your absence or illness. This step will take longer than the others, simply because you can't just pick anyone off the street for this job. You need to be confident that this person can and WILL run your business as smoothly and efficiently as if you'd never left the scene.
Not only will this person be able to act as a temporary "owner," they'll also be able to:
a) Recruit, train, and "interview" part-time assistants.
They'll know all the ins and outs of your business, right? Then they should be just as capable when it comes time to find more "hired help." Even though the final hiring decision will be yours to make, this person can act as a "preliminary interviewer," screen applicants, or scout new help that will be reliable, skillful, and competent.
b) Help YOU with important business decisions.
This depends on the depth of knowledge that you allow them (or require them) to have.
c) Help keep your costs low.
Although this assistant will have an in-depth knowledge of the workings of your business, you won't have to pay them as a full-time employee unless you specifically hire them as such. This way, you'll still have all the benefits of "temporary ownership" in case of emergency, and also be able to save money by not paying them an hourly wage.
5. WHEN YOU TAKE BREAKS, *REALLY* TAKE BREAKS!
When you fix lunch, don't come back to the computer. Fix it, and turn on the T.V. to watch your favorite sitcom. Or, grab a book and curl up by the fireplace (or the air conditioner in the Summer!), to read a few chapters of that great novel you got from Amazon.com.
Whatever you do, just get away from your work! If you don't feel "productive" during work hours unless you're exercising your brain, go to the supermarket for one of those great variety puzzle books and go for the gold. In short, make sure breaks are REALLY for resting -- not just for getting out of the physical vicinity of your work area.
6. ELIMINATE CONSTANT TELEPHONE DISTRACTIONS.
I know how annoying it is to be in the middle of an important project, stop to take a phone call -- then totally forget what you were doing when you stopped to take the call. And, not only is it frustrating, it can also be time-consuming.
Eliminate distractions, (and the embarrassment of jumping out of your skin in fright when the phone rings), by using an automated messaging service or live operator. Instead of listing your home office phone number on your website, list the number of the 24 hour service to answer all your calls.
7. LEARN WHEN IT'S BEST TO SAY "NO."
You can't be all things to all people, and it's foolhardy to try. Enjoying helping people is one thing, but stressing yourself out by taking on too many responsibilities is another. Any reasonable person will understand that running a business is stressful, and will also understand that you just can't do it all.
If the person gets upset or bad-mouths you to other marketers because you declined their offer, that's the kind of person you wouldn't have wanted to have any dealings with anyway. And in both cases, you still come out on top, and life goes on.
8. TAKE AT LEAST ONE VACATION PER YEAR.
If you were working any other full-time job, you'd be entitled to vacation time after working "x" amount of hours. So, when you own your own business, this should be even more applicable as it's generally harder work.
Whether you're alone or with friends or family, make sure that your vacation STAYS a vacation by not taking ANY work with you on the trip. Don't take any work-related "reading material," don't take your lap-top with you to "work on that new website," don't do newsletter issues, and don't make any business calls!
Even if your vacation is nothing but a relocation to another area of the house for a week, it's one of the only times you're able to take time out that's exclusively for YOU. Don't ruin that or interfere with it by working through your break.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
|Harmony Major is the author of Yahoo! Secrets, where she reveals how YOU can drive HUNDREDS more visitors to your site each day, by getting a #1 listing on Yahoo. Don't just settle for "getting listed." Use her instantly-effective tactics to boost your site traffic with a TOP Yahoo listing! Visit: <http://YahooSecrets.com>|
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