Priorities for Principals

As an employee, you probably weren’t bothered with administrative tasks such as filing, billing jobs and shipping packages or marketing tasks like cultivating new business. Now that you have your own business, you’ll wear many hats. Juggling the tasks for maintaining a business requires an ability to make wise judgment calls on what needs to be done now versus what can be done later.

Here are some strategies to help you run your business smoothly:

  • Meeting deadlines is your top priority. No matter what it takes, deliver your work when your clients expect it. There are a lot of talented people out there, and you may feel like you aren’t offering anything that’s terribly unique. The fact is that there are a lot of talented flakes out there. People who consistently get work done on time have a considerable competitive edge. Being dependable might not make you an overnight sensation, but it’s likely to bring you long-term success.
  • Lengthy projects can be put aside. The best type of work situation to have is a steady flow of short-term projects, which have to be turned around quickly, counterbalanced by lengthy long-term projects that can occupy the gaps between the short-term projects. That way you’re always busy. The trick is to table the long-term assignments when you need to. Don’t get so consumed in a project that you can’t put it aside for a more lucrative job with a tight deadline.
  • Keep the broad picture in mind. Remember the need to chip away at long-term projects so you’re not overwhelmed with more work than you can handle at the last minute. Set aside time on a daily or weekly basis to complete these projects. If necessary, add an extra hour to every business day to get the job done.
  • Maintain cash flow. It’s natural to assume that administrative tasks can be put off. That’s true, for the most part. The exception is invoicing your jobs. It only takes a few minutes, and it’s essential to maintaining the income you need to keep going. Invoice your jobs as soon as they’re completed.
  • Keep looking for future business opportunities. Don’t overlook the need for self-promotion. Sometimes you’ll be so busy, the last thing in the world you’ll want to think about is taking on another project. But if you don’t keep an eye on where your future business is coming from, you may find yourself with fewer clients and less work in a year’s time.
  • Don’t pass up big opportunities. A project for a major client is due tomorrow; you’ve prearranged a one o’clock meeting time to deliver it. The day before, an out-of-town prospect calls with your dream project. She’s in town for just one day, and the only time she can meet with you is lunchtime the next day. I’d try to reschedule my delivery meeting. You know the old adage: Opportunity only knocks once.