Are you feeling overwhelmed and simply doing too much in your business? You can have a fantastic team and an army of freelancers behind you and STILL feel as though you’re pushing water up a hill. Here’s how to avoid overwhelm and focus on growing your firm.
You need to get rid of overwhelm so that you can focus on providing an excellent service, attracting high value clients and scaling up your business. I learned the hard way that things break in my business when I become stressed and overwhelmed. Trying to do too much is a surefire way to end up doing too little.
As an accounting firm owner, you no longer have someone else telling you what to do. Now, you need to figure out what to focus your energy on so that you can grow your firm and reap the benefits of being a business owner. Otherwise, you may as well just go back to the day job.
Look at Your Current Situation
It’s easy to get carried away and focus solely on scaling up, but if you don’t understand where you are now, you won’t be able to figure out where you want to go in the future.
The first step to reducing overwhelm is analysing your current situation and working out what you want to change. Having a clear idea of where you are and where you’re going will allow you to start simplifying your business and eliminating unnecessary processes.
- Who your clients are
- How you do marketing
- Your turnover and profit
- Client satisfaction
- Is your business making an impact?
- Does running your firm fill you with joy? If not, why not?
Get Clear on Your Goals
It’s important to know where you are when running your own firm. However, it’s equally (if not more) important to know where you want to be. Without clear goals, it’s easy to get stressed and overwhelmed. When you lack direction, you just end up going around in circles, and that’s never a good thing.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about the future of your firm, it’s time to sit down and work out exactly what you want. I’m not talking about vague goals like “world domination.” That’s nice, but it’s not actionable. You can’t live in hope. You need to create a step-by-step plan and take purposeful action.
- How many clients do you want and how much do you want them to pay?
- How will you market your firm to attract these clients?
- How many team members will you need to ensure your business continues running smoothly as you scale up?
- What do you need to organise?
- What is going to break as your business grows?
You need to work out the kind of business you want, and then act as if you have that business right now. This will clear up a lot of the confusion about what you should be doing and allow you to prepare for future changes ahead of time.
Audit Your Time
This is my favorite and most powerful tip.
Through years of growing my business, I’ve discovered that things break when there’s too much complexity involved. This is what leads me to get stressed and overwhelmed, and it prevents my business from running as it should. Complexity comes in many different forms, such as:
- The way your team functions
- The way you outsource certain tasks
Complexity kills productivity, so the first step to avoiding overwhelm as an accounting or bookkeeping firm owner is working out what is and isn’t complex in your business. This will allow you to see what you should keep, what you need to change and what you need to get rid of entirely.
So how do you do this?
It takes two weeks to do a time audit. All you need is your phone timer and a notebook. Every day, set a timer every thirty minutes from the moment you wake up to the time you go to bed. Each time the timer goes off, write in the book what you have done during the past thirty minutes.
For example, if you wake up at 7 am, you would set a timer straight away. At 7.30, you would then write “wake up” in the book alongside what you did next, whether it was taking the dog for a walk, drinking a cup of tea in bed or doing some morning stretches.
This isn’t just for your working day. It’s important to take a look at what you do in your personal time too. Overwhelm can stem from a poor work-life balance, a lack of quality time with your loved ones or even too much time scrolling through social media.
Don’t change anything during this two week process. It’s important to do exactly what you’d normally do so that you get an accurate picture of how you’re really spending your time.
It could be that you spend 2-3 hours a day trying to get your head around software and that technology is the source of your overwhelm. Perhaps you’re trying to do a thousand different things at once, and achieving nothing as a result.
This data will help you to understand what is complex in your business. Then, you can start to eliminate complexity and simplify your processes.
Once you have done this yourself, ask your team to do it too. It pays to remove complexity from their lives, too. This could lead you to realise that your team is overly complex and wasting time, and therefore allow you to simplify workflows or even reduce their hours. Alternatively, it could be that you need to hire another team member to help. This awareness will allow you to make necessary changes that drive your business forward.
Work Out Who Can Help
You can’t do everything yourself. I know we’d all like to believe the contrary is true, but the sooner you accept you need help, the better.
Help can come in the form of a team member, a freelancer, a coach or a mentor. You can’t come up with every single idea alone. You need help with pricing, hiring, marketing and serving your clients, among many other things.
There are simply not enough hours in the day for you to handle every single aspect of your firm by yourself. You don’t have to know everything; you simply have to find the right people to help you so that you can focus on growing your firm.
As a firm owner, it’s not always about figuring out HOW. It’s about figuring out WHO.
Focus on Money-Making Activities
To build upon my previous point, as an accounting firm owner it’s your job to focus on the money-making activities. You have limited time and you need to use it wisely.
When you’re running a business, your top priority has to be getting and keeping high value clients. In order to grow your firm, you must focus on client generating activities. Invest your time as carefully as you would your money.
You’re working for yourself now and your priorities have to shift. You’re not just an accountant, you’re a business owner. If you don’t want to focus on client generation, you shouldn’t be in business. You’d be better off going back to your day job.
Assign a value to each of the tasks in your firm. There are $10 tasks, $1000 tasks and $10,000 tasks. The latter is where you need to focus your attention. You have to outsource the lower value tasks and focus on the ones that truly require your specific expertise.
It’s hard to focus when you’re stressed out. Whilst many accounting firm owners assume the best way to handle stress is to up the ante work-wise, it’s also important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Working 24/7 will only make matters worse.
A healthy diet, exercise and regular breaks are all important for stress management. When you feel overwhelmed, you may think you need to spend every waking moment managing your firm but that will only lead to more stress.
Remember that you are the heart of your firm, and so you need to look after yourself. By managing your stress levels and taking care of your mental health, you’ll be able to bring your A-game and make the most out of your working hours.
As an accounting firm owner, putting an end to your overwhelm isn’t about working harder, it’s about being smarter.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you need to get an accurate picture of what’s going on in your business and how you’re spending your time. The next step is to ensure that you’re delegating enough of your tasks and focusing your attention on the real money making activities that will grow your business. Stop wasting your time micromanaging your team or doing things that could easily be outsourced.
Reducing overwhelm isn’t rocket science. What it boils down to is simplifying your firm and taking purposeful, rather than hopeful, action.
P.S. When you are ready to have more TIME, increase your PROFITS and catapult your IMPACT here is how you can get help and increase your superpowers:
1. Join The Community
Our best training happens inside our FREE Facebook group Superpowers for Accountants & Bookkeepers. Click Here.
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