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FINDING THE TIME! How to Start a Business When you Work a 9-5!

You’re knackered. It’s been a long day at the office and the boss was more pissed off than normal.

Let’s not even talk about the commute home.

All you want to do is spend a little time with your kids before they are wrapped up in their PJ’s and huddled off to bed.

But. And this is a big but; you are trying to start an online business and you really need to put the time in.

It feels impossible. There’s just not enough hours in the day.

Which is basically true, we could all do with more hours.

However, somehow you do have to find the time.

And I’m going to show you how.

These 5 steps will help you build your new online business alongside that exhausting 9-5.

1. Harness the Drive

My own personal carrot: The view from the inifinity pool I intend to own.

This first step was a big one for me.

Back in 2013 I hated my job. I was working 12 hour days, I was stressed, under paid and the relationship with my boss was strained to say the least.

I often arrived home late without an ounce of energy left in me.

However, the drive to move on from my day job was exactly what I needed to lift me from the sofa at 9pm to get to work on starting my own business.

You will all have your own reasons to want to go it alone.

Not enjoying your job? Want more freedom? Need the extra money? Want to see more of your kids… whatever it is, you need to remind yourself of that goal every evening after work.

And that’s before you’ve slumped in front of latest Netflix series you’re enjoying.

Set a recurring alarm on your phone.

I had mine timed for after dinner each day.

It was a simple message: ‘Do one thing towards the business’.

One small thing!

No matter how tired you are it is possible to do that.

What generally happens is, you do more than one thing.

You sit down at your laptop and because you are doing something constructive, you begin to pull on your reserve energy levels and one thing turns into several.

It’s a fantastic feeling, and the next day at work is better because you know you are doing something in your own time to make a change.

These small steps are incremental, and your daily efforts add up.

Getting to where you want to be takes hard work, tenacity and patience.

For me the end result was life changing. I am positive it will be the same for you too.

Action Point: Remind yourself daily of your goal. Each small step is a step closer. Set a recurring alarm on your phone telling yourself to hit the laptop. Put a picture or inspirational quote in your work area that symbolizes where you are headed, (my laptop wallpaper is a view from the infinity pool that I aim to own). Bully yourself each day, and harness whatever it takes to get you to work on the business.

2. Organize your spare time

Moving on from the psychological aspect of finding enough time; here’s what to do from a practical perspective.

It involves getting organised.

Setting my alarm for 8.30pm was one thing, however in order to sit down to work on my business I needed to be on top of the other things life throws our way.

It sounds boring but you need to start treating your personal life a little like your work schedule.

It is important to get the balance of course, (your kids still need daddy time just as much as you need to spend time with them).

However, setting out a plan for your time, including to-do lists, will help you work more efficiently when it comes to starting your online business.

The way you go about this will be personal to you.

For me, business work hours were every night after work and weekend mornings by getting up at 6am, (I am fortunately an early riser).

By allocating those designated windows of business work time, (and communicating that with my long-suffering partner) I was able to make those first steps towards the wonderful balance that I have today.

I launched my first online business that eventually allowed me to quit the job that I hated.

Action Point: You need to get organised. Allocate times in the week where you will be working on the business. Communicate with loved ones when you are going to be unavailable. Create a schedule and follow it as you would your work diary.

3. Know when and what to outsource

Knowing when to start outsourcing work is a big part of growing a new business, especially when your time is so constrained.

Every business has nuts and bolts aspects that can be outsourced. And finding the right people to take those jobs on is getting easier and easier with the many freelancing sites now online.

Depending on the nature of your online business, tasks such as web design, content creation, marketing and social media management can all be carried out by freelancers and external services.

There’s also the option of virtual assistants to take away some of the administrative load, (allowing you to spend your valuable time growing the business).

You might even think about using a virtual address and mailbox service too. There are many available, and they can help provide your new business with a professional image.

Using a business address instead of your home address is recommended, and a mailbox service will take care of your mail with services such as scanning, shredding and forwarding as per your instructions.

I like to do the following test when it comes to outsourcing:
  • Is it a job that a professional could do much faster than me?
  • Is it a repetitive job that eats in to my time that is better spent elsewhere?

If yes to either of the above:

  • Can I afford to pay someone else to do it?

If so, start booking that help.

It can be nerve-wracking handing over aspects of your business to begin with.

It is your baby after all.

There’s also the issue of self-development with some tasks.

It can be worth your time teaching yourself the skill as it will help your business in the long run, (getting your head around email marketing is an important aspect every online business owner needs to do).

There is also the issue of training and instruction to those that you employ; something that actually eats into your time rather than relieve it.

However, once things are set in motion, you will find that the growth you need to quit the day job will arrive faster.

Action Point: Knowing when to outsource is personal to you. Your budget and skills all have a part to play. Unless there is something to be gained by DIY, if a professional can complete a task much faster, or it is a repetitive task that is simple enough to hand on to others – outsourcing should be seriously considered.

4. Batch your processes

Analysing your work flow in order to see what can be done to make it more efficient is a massive part of getting more done in your limited time.

I’ll use my own work-flow as an example:

My main business is content websites (which rely on social media and banner advertising) as well as affiliate websites (product reviews and sponsorship).

The majority of the work that I do can be broken into stages:

  • Researching new content ideas
  • Ordering content with freelance writers
  • Instructing VA’s to publish content on the sites
  • Analysing the data of the sites to see what’s working and not (regards advertising, content, social channels etc).

This means I tackle each stage together, i.e I batch my processes.

MONDAY – A big part of my Monday involves researching keywords and content ideas for all of my sites, and coming up with work that I will send my writers that afternoon.

TUESDAY – I spend Tuesdays analysing traffic and ad revenue stats, tweaking and updating sites and making sure everything is working as it should. I will also bring together the materials to write my weekly post for the balance hub.

WEDNESDAY – On Wednesdays I will write my latest TBH article (these are usually over 2000 words and take all morning). The afternoon is free time to work on anything I choose.

THURSDAY – My writers normally come back with my content on Thursday. I will check and ask for any tweaks, and aim to have the raw content ready by the end of the day. I also publish the TBH post.

FRIDAY – I send all the finished content to my VA along with images for her to publish everything across my sites. She also takes care of social postings etc. The rest of the day is mostly mine to do as I please.

Clearly I am describing my full-time schedule here, however the same applies to you if you are squeezing your business work hours into smaller segments.

Concentrate on one aspect each time and you will find yourself working a lot more efficiently, getting more done and with better results too.

Action Point: Look at your work flow and see what tasks can be batched together for greater efficiency. You will often find that the results are not only faster, they are of higher quality too. You’re focusing on one area and doing it well, rather than jumping about from one job to the next.

5. The beauty of templates and shortcuts

Systems, templates and shortcuts will allow you to start an online business alongside a full time job.

They do this by allowing you to get more done in the limited time that you have.

Most of this is simple common sense; hunt for ways to make tasks more streamlined.

If you are sending one type of email on a regular basis, make a template. Sure, tailor it for the recipient in question, but having an email template you can call upon will save you valuable time.

I have templates for emails, templates for messages to my writers for ordering articles, templates on instructions I send to my VA’s with publishing details.

All of these shortcuts reduce the time it takes to delegate work each week. (Note that I am outsourcing nearly all the nuts and bolts work).

You should take the same approach with the tools that you use.

Look for ways to make things faster.

Bookmark relevant sites that you often use, have your computer files organised in a way that makes them easy to access, your hardcopy files should also be well organised.

Ensure that your equipment, (i.e laptop, printer etc) work efficiently so that you’re not screwing around for 20 minutes everytime you want to print a letter.

Look for software that will streamline tasks you do often, (as my main business is websites I use all sorts of plugins and tools to speed up what I do; everything from paid monthly keyword research and analysis tools, to simple WordPress plugins that will help me find broken links).

What you opt for here will depend on the type of business and your budget.

However, always bare in mind that your time is valuable. If a piece of software or tool (at a reasonable price) can help you do things faster, it is worth looking into.

Remember, when you create shortcuts it allows you to spend more time focusing on actually growing your business, rather than simply running it.

Action Point: Do not underestimate the power of shortcuts. Whether its a handy piece of software, word templates of frequent correspondence or simply saving sites to your bookmarks bar, look into every aspect of your business to see where a shortcut can be created so that you can complete tasks faster.

What are your views?

Have you made the jump from a 9-5 to running your own business? How did you find time to get things off the ground? Or are you in the planning stages of starting something new?

If you have any comments or questions you know where to leave them. It’s always great to hear from you.

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