Every time my kids leave the dinner table, I repeat the same phrase night after night… “Clean your plate”… (I bet you never thought you might get business advice from the dinner table, huh?)
The reason is, if they don’t, all of the dinner remnants end up in the sink along with all the dirty dishes and it makes a big mess. And by the time I get to the sink to do the dishes, I have to sift through more than just dishes to get the job done. Cleaning your plate is common sense. It’s efficient. It is an important step in the workflow that goes on in our home.
It took me years to learn the lesson that, as an entrepreneur, I can’t do it all and do it well. It took falling, stumbling, failing and getting back up time and time again as I tried to handle all of the things I put on my plate. And time and time again it looked like a kitchen sink full of all those dinner remnants and dishes. No efficiency, no order… just me elbow deep in a mess. Yes, there might have been money coming in, but the stress and chaos of getting it in the door wasn’t the way to do it. It wasn’t efficient.
Don’t get me wrong – when you are just starting out and are hungry and trying to grow you will always put more on your plate than you can handle. You have to. You can’t afford outsourcing right out of the gate usually. However, I think we get stuck as business owners in this mindset that if we let go of control, even when we are financially able to, that it will all fall apart. We become obsessive, controlling and protective of what we have built. And while I still fail all the time in big ways and small, I have learned the value of outsourcing, of simplifying what I can so that my focus can be on what it is that I do best. I have become a student in the art of cleaning my plate. And it truly makes all the difference.
Cleaning your plate and outsourcing comes in the form of many things. Perhaps it’s investing in a client management software. Or perhaps it’s hiring a company to help with your social media. Or maybe it’s simply finding the right app to help you track your time on freelance projects. We are all at different stages in our entrepreneurial journeys – the process of cleaning our plates and keeping them clean is going to look different on everyone.
It took me almost 10 years to be at a place where I could justify hiring an assistant after slowly chipping away at outsourcing things to apps and systems. It took me just shy of 10 years to not only earn an income that could absorb the cost of having an assistant, but it also took me that long to realize that I truly can’t do it all and nurture my business appropriately. I had to let go of control a bit. And while scary, the reward of it is worth the risk.
Perhaps you are just beginning, perhaps you just aren’t at a place yet to hire an employee(s) or perhaps you prefer to run your business as a solopreneur. Have you taken advantage of the many systems and apps out there for business owners? There’s apps like Buffer to pre-schedule your social media, there’s a WordPress plugin to automatically send thank you’s to those who leave a comment on your blog, and there’s systems like block scheduling to help you create more day-to-day efficiency. There is so much out there that would only cost you a few dollars a month. The value in reducing all that you juggle is immeasurable and I promise you will see the benefits soon enough. The goal is to scale your business. The goal is to work smarter, not harder. The goal is efficiency.
And it all starts with cleaning your plate.