I started Off/Source over a year and a half ago and have experienced some pretty interesting things over that period of time that have certainly affected not only how I do business but think about business.
For context - Off/Source is a virtual office staffing company that supports business owners with admin and other office functions. So without wasting any more characters, what I learned from my first year in business.
The very first thing I have learned after starting Off/Source is how to move fast. Everyone says you have to move fast. Everyone talks about speed, especially when talking about startups, but how do you move fast? I think it's tough for many people, and I've learned how to move fast throughout this time and how you move fast is you have to do it (no Nike pun intended).
I think of it as being able not to judge what you do. I do the first thing that comes to my mind. I always say I don't know what I'm sometimes doing. I usually do the very first thing that I think should happen. (based on my research and experiences), And I try to do it as fast as possible so that I can move on to the next thing that I think should happen, and that is how I go fast. Not everything you're going to do is something you should be doing, but it becomes clearer what you need to do, especially as you have a game plan.
So if you have a game plan, that makes it ten times easier to go fast. You know what you have to do, and now you have to focus on doing it. Often, we become lost in our minds and think, how will I get this done? Literally, think about what you think is the best action to take, and then take it. It doesn't even have to be perfect because you have the chance to redo it.
Especially in particular work, like if a spreadsheet is ugly, fix it. Everything on the internet is fixable. That's, that's the first thing I learned, how to go fast.
The second thing I've learned is hard for me to put in a category, but it is how to give direction to a hire. I ever so hard-headily learned you have to provide explicit instructions. You can never expect someone to read your mind, know what you're thinking, or execute upon very little information. If you're thinking about hiring, if you're thinking about outsourcing, if you're thinking about even working with another consultant, you have to have
at least an SOP (Standard operating procedures) in place.
SOPs exponentially increase the understanding of directions and what's going on for your particular position or a specific job or project. There are so many times I see entrepreneurs crying for help and don't have an idea of what they need help with, or even if someone offered support, how to utilize that resource.
Take an advertising agency, for example; they probably get a bunch of people that have already said, "Hey, you know, I won't wanna, I want to run a marketing campaign," and you probably ask them:
"What do you want it to be the campaign to be about? How much is your budget? Do you have any creatives ready to go? What kind of branding is going to be your focus? What's your message going to be like."
And they're like, "I just want to market and tell people about my company."
Having a standard operating procedure makes it so much easier for you to hire or even work with a consultant; also, it will allow you to maximize your money spent.
We, as business owners, don't want you to feel like you're not getting your money's worth. So to always makes you're getting your money's worth. Have a game plan when you're going to solve a problem or get help from somebody; know how somebody can help you.
The third thing I would say that I've learned in business is to stay lean, stay cheap, and stay at a minimal cost as possible.
You know, if, when you're trying to do anything unless you have boatloads of money, try to keep it as minimal as possible. And for someone like me who enjoys my work, I am big on just technology, making things simpler. So I have shiny object syndrome when it comes to new technology, like downloading Miro, notion, or any new software.
I love testing out new software. And it's just fun to learn it. So this lesson is to stay away from whatever your small habit is eating up your work expense account. I like to use notion instead of Google docs sometimes; that's why I like to use Miro instead of getting a whiteboard, you know, but keeping your business running on only the bare essentials will work out best for you in the long run.
A tip that I would say to help with this is to make yourself earn that little joy or toy you like. Just like starting a gym, you want to have already had a routine of working out and exercising before going to the gym. So the same thing when you're working, you want to make sure you have good practice before you go and get that new software or shiny object.
So if you're not used to taking notes, it doesn't make sense to go and pay for note-taking software. Start taking notes for free on google docs, text edit, or pen and paper; then, reward yourself with the paid version as you begin to instill the habit.