This week I’ve been thinking about the importance of structure and routine when you run a business. I’d say it’s pretty fundamental, wouldn’t you? But would you say you actually do have a good routine? Even if you start out with the best of intentions, it can be hard to maintain, especially when business and life take over!
On a personal level, I’d say I’m pretty organised – I think you have to be when you’re a working parent. But over and above that, I think being organised and focused is part of my DNA. I honestly couldn’t cope if I didn’t have at least some sort of plan.
But since we started We Are Tabono, and since I became an ‘official’ Company Director, I can see now that entrepreneurship requires taking my organisational skills to a whole new level.
So what does this mean?
Starting the day off right.
We’ve talked before on our blog about the importance of a good morning routine. This is definitely something I stand by, and something I think I have pretty much nailed (touch wood!).
But I also acknowledge that the definition of ‘good’ depends very much on the individual. For example, some people prefer to sleep in as late as possible, but I don’t. On weekdays, I get up at 6am, around 30 minutes before my husband and about an hour before our daughter. I don’t have to, and I lose sleep for sure. But it also means I get some quiet time with my own thoughts, before the day starts. I also know what my tasks for the morning are, and the order in which they need to take place – and weirdly or not, I always seem to turn the engine on for the school run at 8.26am!
Finding the line.
Part of a good routine and structure should involve establishing where the line is between work and personal time. This is so easy to blur when you run a business, and it’s easy to be tempted to make a quick call, or cast your eye over your inbox.
But this is something that I have tried to be very strict with myself about, from the outset. Come 3.10pm, when the door to my daughter’s classroom opens, I’m nothing but Mum for the next 2.5 hours, until she settles down with her evening Octonauts and I sit next to her with my laptop.
Getting things done.
Once you have your personal schedule sorted, then there’s the question of how to cram everything you need to, into your working day. Many people have a To Do List. Others have apps. Chloe and I favour our bullet journals. We’ve said this many times before, but they really are a great way of keeping your life on track!
But when you run a business, I’ve learned that productivity is about more than just getting things done. It’s also about great communication. Do you have someone to hold you accountable for getting things done? Do you have anyone to challenge you in your decision-making? How about setting expectations and communicating priorities?
We are lucky in that there are two of us in our ‘structure’. And we chat. A lot. But what we didn’t have was a structure to our discussions. Instead, we just trusted each other to do what we needed to do. But now we plan our meetings in advance. We share our diaries and share tasks more formally. And it works. By taking our communication – and the way that we do it – up a notch or five, we make so much better use of the time we have.
And that brings me nicely on to People Power! As a small business owner, I think you have to make ‘people’ part of your structure. Every entrepreneur needs a support team. People to go to when you’re stuck. A place to go to bounce ideas around and get feedback. It can be a lonely life when you first set up on your own, so sometimes, you just need to be with people! That’s part of the reason why we set up our community. To provide small business owners with all of these things!
So what do you think? Would you say you have a strong routine and structure to support your business? If you do, we’d love to hear your tips for making it work. If not, what are you going to do about it?