Pursuing your entrepreneurial career path is no easy task. It takes time, effort, and while we hate to admit it, a whole lotta money. Until you hit it big, you'll probably be pinching pennies wherever possible.
Cutting physical costs is a great start, but there's another invisible culprit eyeing up your business's bank account: time. We've all heard the phrase "time is money." How much are your work patterns costing you? With a bit of reflection and a few adjustments, you can keep the clock from cashing in.
Organization and efficiency are the foundations of time and money well spent. You probably already create a daily to-do list, but try making a timeline instead. Light a fire under yourself by committing to reasonable time frames for everything you want to accomplish in a day. Time-sensitive goals will help you stay on track, saving yourself time and, in turn, money.
In addition to getting organized, get focused. The flexibility to set your own pace and your own work environment also comes with some distracting sinkholes! Make sure you turn off your TV, let non-urgent phones calls go to voicemail and log on to Facebook with the same caution you would use if a boss were looking over your shoulder. Respect your time and its value by unplugging from distractions and then diving into your work.
Turn off replay
Repeating tasks can become an epidemic. Take a minute to think about the repetitive actions you take on any given day, then invest your effort into setting up hacks.
If you send similar emails every day, create a Word document to store generic messages or try Gmail's Canned Responses feature. Make sure you have a standard invoice template, and bookmark websites you visit regularly. Once you get your repeat-life organized, your workflow will improve.
Also consider the repeat interactions you have with customers. Create an FAQ page on your website or an introduction packet that offers in-depth insight into your services. Efforts like these don't replace communication with your clients, but they do free up more of your time for other work.
Bring in reinforcements
Consider hiring an intern to help out with projects and office tasks. All it takes is a call to your local college's career center and the applicants will come to you.
Interns can save you time by assisting with administrative tasks and also bring a fresh perspective on your work. The students who are newest to your field are likely up-to-date on the latest trends and newest technologies, which could save you even more time.
Repay your intern by explaining your work processes and giving her independent tasks on a current project. College students may be eager to roll up their sleeves for free, but they deserve valuable, in-the-field experience in return.
Stop undervaluing yourself
This won't apply to all entrepreneurs, but if you're just getting started or are simply too darn nice, you may be guilty of undervaluing your work. For example, as a freelance writer, you might charge your client for the agreed-upon word count that took you about an hour to write. But what about the time it took you to brainstorm, research and edit that content? That time should not go unnoticed or unbilled.
Even if your business is new to a crowded field, there's a difference between being competitive and giving the milk away for free. Look over your rates and make sure you're pricing your work fairly.
If you decide to adjust your prices, do some research first to ensure that you're staying within your industry's reasonable standards. Notify your current clients before you start working on a new project so the higher price tag doesn't come as a shock. If you're hesitant about raising your rates, consider offering different packages so that clients will have pricing flexibility but you're still earning what your time is truly worth.
Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, we offer edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!