(But Her Cookies are Still Selling)
By John Curran
Remember this Holiday classic?
Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer
By Elmo & Patsy
“Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve...
She'd been drinking too much eggnog...
And she staggered out the door into the snow
When we found her Christmas morning...
She had hoof-prints on her forehead
And incriminating Claus marks on her back”
In the less-than-serious holiday song, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” poor Grandma has had a little too much eggnog and sadly gets run over by Santa’s sleigh. Now imagine that Grandma was tech savvy and had a small online shop selling her freshly baked cookies. What would happen to the cookie orders that are still coming in? Who would fulfill them?
In other words, this is what could happen to tech entrepreneurs and small business owners who don’t realize that prioritizing their health is crucial for the business. You know what else is crucial for the survival of your small business? Making sure that the business doesn’t actually need you in order for it to run day-to-day.
Entrepreneurs that risk making their businesses too dependent on them do so at their own peril. Some venture capitalists call it the “Hit-By-A-Bus Syndrome”, the reminder that whether you’re a solopreneur or part of a small team, the success of your business is contingent on you being there to run the business. This is not good.
Your goal as a tech entrepreneur is to make sure that your business can “run itself”. This is the true mark of success that all small business owners need to strive for. But how do you accomplish this?
Humans Aren’t Robots and Small Biz Owners Face Real Risks
Starting a business can consume most of our waking time. Days and weekends are filled with working in the business. The problem is that we aren't designed to run 24/7. People just don't take enough time for themselves to recharge the batteries. This is particularly evident at startups and sole proprietorships.
Healthcare is a big issue. Many small business owners simply don’t make time to fit in regular checkups when they feel there is too much work to do (not a great idea).
After watching many colleagues struggle with their work-life balance, Patrick Clements, CEO of SherpaDesk.com, developed a personal mantra that has contributed a great deal towards his own and his business’s health: “Small business owners always need to work ON the business, but not always IN the business.”
What Can You Do to Prevent Hit-By-A-Bus Syndrome?
Habits can be difficult to break, especially if they are bad ones. But there’s no reason to beat yourself up over it.
Time is finite. You can’t get it back if you lose it, but even if it seems like you’re wasting it by relaxing away from your small business, you really aren’t, because you’re investing in your health. So how do you reduce those 70-hour or more work hours per week that your tech startup has been demanding from you lately? One word: Automation. Better still if we use three words: Professional Services Automation (or PSA for short).
PSA: Automate Early and Often
What are the benefits of deploying a Professional Services Automation Solution for my small business?
When you use a PSA Solution like the one offered by SherpaDesk you finally gain control over most aspects of your business that were previously causing you headaches. In other words, automation brings order to chaos.
So what are some of the immediate benefits?
1. Get Paid When You’re Trying to Get Paid – One reason people often dread invoicing clients and customers is that accounts receivables often fill you with dread. After all, you already did the work or provided the service. Why do you have to invest more time just to get the money you earned? You need to be able to invoice as the work is being done, not try to tally up all of the billable hours at once at the end of the month.
That can become even more difficult with a distributed workforce. How do you manage to keep track of everyone’s hours when they span six time zones? Not only are you reviewing and trying to calculate individual workloads, you’re also looking at a time crunch that inevitably leads to dread. A well implemented PSA system from SherpaDesk helps make that dread go away by becoming the hub that keeps track of all your invoicing, IT ticketing and time tracking.
2. Automate Customer Service – Your small business solves numerous problems. However, some customers may start to have similar issues whether it’s a bug in your processes or it’s a feature that they are still learning how to use to their benefit. Instead of trying to respond to every concern with a personalized response or even route it to the right person, you need to be able to find a way to automate it. Here’s where a good PSA comes to the rescue. Without it, you’re wasting your own valuable time. And if you need to hand the reins to someone else? A PSA solution can go a long way in helping you onboard new staff by keeping all the Faqs and other Q & A systems in one centralized location/app, ready to serve your customers in real time.
3. Keep Track of Inventory and Orders – Asset tracking and inventory management are critical. With a PSA solution, you’ll be able to keep track of all of your costs, time spent on projects, expenses, travel and the value of your inventory.
4. Keep Burn At Bay - The problem with calculating true burn is that there are so many costs spread across different elements of your business and they often include factors you may not have even considered. Being able to access a 30,000-foot view of these expenses is the best way to avoid surprises at the end of the quarter. Most small businesses go under because of inaccurate forecasting. If you ever need a break for relaxation or to get better after an illness, the likelihood of missing something grows even more if you don’t have a solid PSA system keeping track of your business expenses.
What Am I Risking If I Don’t use a PSA Solution?
Fear of failure is a real problem with starting your own business. It’s tough to make a company a success nowadays. But even more dangerous are the health risks that are now becoming common in Silicon Valley due to long hours and “presentism”.
If you’re always at work, you’re losing out on time with loved ones and the very support network that can help you deal with stressful situations in the first place. So the moral of the story is "Go Home" and let your PSA system organize and prioritize your business processes.
So What Kind of Benefits Will PSA Have on My Health and on My Small Business?
1. Prevent reduced productivity from burnout or becoming sick due to stress.
2. Better work-life balance helps maintain bonds with friends and loved ones who can then act as a support network.
3. Increased focus and time to make important financial and business decisions like pursuing funding opportunities.
4. If you’re a big-picture idea person, then the opportunity to make something even bigger is why you decided to become an entrepreneur in the first place.
Valuing your business, yourself, your health and your productivity gives you the best possible opportunity to leverage your skills and expertise to make your small business a success. Taking care of yourself almost as well as taking care of your business may not have been on your roadmap to successful entrepreneurship, but it should be.
Even Grandma knows, you can never forecast the unforeseen, so a business humming along with the help of Professional Services Automation Software (even when the founder is on an extended break) is a lot more valuable to investors and their customers than one that comes to a screeching halt when the founder/owner is not around.
Which company would you rather invest in?
Now go get some eggnog and watch out for any flying sleds...
About the Author
John is a freelance writer and marketer specializing in helping small businesses accelerate growth. An avid reader, he can often be found spitballing ideas with his business partner and fiancee. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org