By Jonathan London on 5th January 2016

4 things that test you as a multitasker

Whether you see yourself as a freelancer, contractor, sole trader or small business owner, there’s one title you’ll definitely recognise.

Juggler.

Few of us are taught to multitask, yet it’s a fact of self-employment. Most people who go it alone discover quickly that, as well as their core fee-earning role, they have to take on the day-to-day chores of running a business.

Depending on your aptitude for these tasks and the nature of your business, you’ll find some of these more onerous than others. What may be a breeze for some will keep others awake at night.

Here then, are 4 things that test you as a multitasker – and ways to make it to the weekend without spending £000s.

IT problems

IT failures universally infuriate. Your computer sits there, stubbornly refusing to respond to any form of input until the right combination of key strokes is randomly stumbled upon. The fact is, though, most computer problems are not terminal and the solution can be inexplicably simple (which is even more maddening). If you’ve had the problem, there’s every chance many others have, too. While writing this blog, your author, in the interests of research, typed ‘Word 2013 won’t open’ into Google.

Exactly 83 million results came back. They were a combination of blogs posted by IT consultancies, technical advice bulletins from the software maker, magazine help pages and user forums. All of them were offering ways to regain my sanity and get my day back on track.

Another tactic is to start typing, verbatim, error messages that appear on your screen into your search engine. You’ll rarely need to enter the full text – it’ll usually auto-complete, revealing a similarly good mix of options.

So, before calling in expert help, always consult the internet first. It could save you a great deal of time and money.

Selling

Selling is time-consuming and difficult to compartmentalise. The idea that you can allocate all of Tuesday mornings to sales, leaving the rest of the week clear, just doesn’t work. What if a key prospect says, ‘Call me back on Thursday afternoon with examples of how you’ve done this before’?

The fact is you don’t know where a sales call may lead or how much preparation work you’ll need to put in. In some instances, you could win new business on the strength of one phone call or email. In others, you may find yourself presenting to the client’s board and making endless follow up calls for the same outcome. All clients are different.

The key is anticipation. Put yourself in the client’s shoes and anticipate every question they could ask. Then formulate the answers. Collate evidence for every claim you make and produce materials you can send by email or use in face-to-face meetings.

Every hour you spend preparing your sales message and supporting materials will save you many more in the weeks and months ahead.

Admin

The admin-free business hasn’t been invented yet. Whether it’s day-to-day expenses and bill paying, monitoring projects, diary management, customer callbacks or responding to enquiries, admin worms its way into every business. If you think admin is putting the brakes on your business, try doing none at all for a few weeks. Soon, your operation will grind to a halt, taking you out of circulation completely as you strive to catch up. If you’re a one-person concern with no admin support, either do a little each day or allocate a quiet afternoon or evening each week to keep on top of it. It’ll pay in the long term.

Accounts

Accounts, along with industry-specific compliance issues, are unavoidable. And unlike the other areas we’ve looked at, there are direct financial and legal penalties for getting things wrong. So, if your accounts are complex and/or you work in a stringent regulatory framework – or even if these areas are just not your strong point – it’s worth putting yourself in the hands of professionals. Services such as online accounting make these tasks easy and cost effective. And the money you spend will get you out of much of the time-consuming paperwork, leaving you free to build your business. It’ll also help you sleep at night.

Jonathan London Written by Jonathan London

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