This is a guestpost by Alicia Fischer, community manager for Desks Near Me.
While I was growing up, I would sometimes go into work with my mom while she checked up on the daily tasks of her business. I remember her being stressed or constantly busy taking care of something. Being a small business owner, that’s often how things are. So many hats to wear, so little time to complete every task.
My mom opened her own hair salon in 1985, Capelli Styling Studio, in a residential neighborhood of Napa Valley. Not necessarily an easy thing to do -- especially when you graduate high school and beauty school in the same year, and decide to devote your life to your trade and skill of hairstyling at the age of nineteen.
I loved going into the salon to see how my mom ran her business. She managed not only rent and salon-chair sharing between stylists, but the lease on the building, her own clientele along with other stylists’ schedules, hired new employees, interviewed new stylists, and would even run in from time to time to wash a load of towels and do inventory. But, that was the early 90s.
Today I think of all the tools that I use while working for a small business to help me manage my time and efficiency. In the past year I’ve realized being part of a budding business is not easy. There is no manual or roadmap. No matter how much advice you receive from people who’ve started their own businesses, it’s definitely not merely cut and paste. You don’t simply walk into the office and sit down to work on one part of the business; you walk in and have 50 things to finish -- or start on -- and they usually span many different aspects of the business rather than one individual sector.
The idea of creating something new to contribute to the world is highly exhilarating and gives me a reason to wake up in the morning. Not many people can say that about their daily grind. On the other hand, I am juggling so many things at once I constantly find myself wondering how I don’t forget the millions of things I seem to have to accomplish each day just to keep the business going.
Small businesses may seem trivial or unimportant in initial stages, but in reality they help change the scope of people’s daily lives. We use small businesses constantly: from local dry cleaner to travel and booking web sites to the new restaurant around the corner. Small businesses comprise 54 percent of all U.S. sales, provide 55 percent of all jobs and 66 percent of all new jobs since the 1970s, according to the United States Small Business Administration. In addition to the impact that smaller businesses have on the U.S. market, the rate of new smaller businesses is increasing as SMB failures decline and larger companies continue to downsize.
The company that I work for is barely one year old. We’ve seen a lot this past year and have gradually figured out the track we’re staying on to grow as a company and as a team.
Just like my mom did, I wear many hats in my daily routine as Community Manager for my startup. Some days I am the receptionist, answering phones and making calls to our clients. Other days I am the PR coordinator and work on our social media accounts, articles and info for the press. Sometimes I help with business development and account management, forming relationships with our current clients and figuring out how to attract new ones. My typical day is atypical, a lifestyle that is not abnormal for SMBs in today’s world.
For all small to medium-sized businesses out there, keep pushing on. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thousands of things you complete each day, don’t be afraid to stop, take a breath, and look for help to take some off your plate. There are plenty of resources to assist you with parts of your business. Many are other small businesses just like yourself that are making a big difference. Some of the tools I use to help my days are:
TaskRabbit - From food deliveries to assembling a street team for a big conference, there are people that can help you with just about anything.
Skype - While our CEO was out during her pregnancy, many of us in the office utilized Skype for meetings and to keep up on tasks.
Dropbox - This is how we share most of our files in the office. Some of our team is overseas, so we need a homebase for all of us to access.
GoogleDrive - If any editing needs to be done, we can all collaborate on it here.