September marks the start of a new school year and a fresh start all round. As a small business owner, whether you've got school-aged children or not, it can also be a fresh start as employees, clients and suppliers return from their holidays and the summer slowdown is over.
I recently read a great article in the Guardian about how September is a much better time of year for New Year's resolutions than January. From exercise to sleep, setting goals and getting into good behaviours at this time of year is much more effective than doing it during the winter months. I think we could also apply this ethos to our businesses. We've now got a few months before Christmas (when you may experience another lull or perhaps be frantically busy) to plan, take action and embed good behaviours. But where to start?
In true 'back to school' fashion, here are a few ideas of how to give your business a fresh start:
1. Get organised and tackle the admin
Students around the country will be starting the new school year with a clear desk and fresh exercise books. Give your business that feeling of starting anew by allocating time to tackle the admin, do the filing and clear your desk. Make sure that as a well as your physical desk you also clear your virtual desktop: clean out the downloads folder and move files and documents to the right place.
2. Create a timetable
If you tend to wing it day-to-day with no set plan, having a timetable can be transformational! It may seem onerous to first create one and then have your day mapped out, but most people find that sticking to a timetable actually buys them more time in the day. Build in some flexibility such as 'free periods' when you can do what every takes your fancy, and then it won't be so difficult to stick to.
3. Make a 3 month business plan
Book out time in your new timetable for business planning and use the end of the year as a deadline for achieving goals. If you've joined the Bordon Hub, Stuart Morrison and the team will help you do this with your own Business Growth Plan session. Make sure you take advantage of this service!
4. Identify the skills you need to be more successful
Many students start the new school year with tests to find out what they know and, more importantly, what they don't know. Why not try something similar in your business by using these first few days back to assess your skills and identify where you have gaps? Then make a plan to fill these gaps either by hiring, outsourcing or by getting relevant training.
5. Make new friends
Running a small business, even when you employ a team, can be isolating. Making friends with other business owners who understand what it's like can make a real difference. Book yourself in for a business networking event to build these relationships - business networking is not just about doing business, it's also about building a supportive network of people around you and your business. Details of our free business networking events can be found here.
6. Enjoy your lunchbreak
Make a 'back to school' resolution to take a lunchbreak every day. 20-30 mins away from your desk is beneficial on all sorts of levels, especially at combatting loss of concentration and low energy. However, a boozy or heavy lunch is not effective! Instead, try to have a healthy, nutritious lunch that sets you up for a productive afternoon.
7. Don't be afraid to ask for help
If you were reluctant to put your hand up and ask for help when you were at school, you will know how self-defeating this can be. It's a no brainer to ask for help to make your business more successful, so start putting your hand up! Help could come from the people you meet at business networking events, from taking part in business training sessions, from outsourcing some of your business activities to people with the right expertise, or from posting a question on a business forum like the Bordon Hub's Facebook page.
I hope you find these back to school ideas give you the impetus to start September with a fresh focus in your business. If you have any back to school tips you can share with other small business owners please get in touch!