Addressing the small stuff key to sole operator success

Many people aspire to work for themselves and when they make the leap, it can often mean fulfilling a lifelong dream or passion. I am always humbled by the stories every one of our customers who is a sole operator tell me about their journey to success and, after my encounters, the saying “blood, sweat and tears” often pops into my mind! Indeed, the self-employed path can be paved with challenges.

With that in mind, here are a few common business challenges and simple solutions from many of our self-employed customers.

  1. Discipline

We have all struggled with being disciplined at some point in our careers, but for the self-employed, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

Some people work well in a self-directed role, while others need external help or motivation to better manage their workflows. If this is you, there are some tricks you can use to become more disciplined:

Optimise your time: having a set time to complete tasks can help you stay focused and setting time limits for certain jobs can actually force you to become more efficient at them.

Also, consider what technology can help you save time. For example, cloud accounting software such as QuickBooks Self-Employed (QBSE) will automate many routine business tasks like capturing and storing receipts in one place. Another advantage is that you can use it on the go, as it is a mobile app.

Be accountable: having clients makes you accountable to their needs. If this is an area where you need to push yourself to stay on top of things, get external help. This could be as simple as getting a friend, family member or self-employed buddy check in with you regularly to ensure you’re on track with whatever you’re working on.

  1. Client management

Your customers can chop and change their minds, their briefs and even their goals, and the best way to manage this is to ensure you have a good workflow in place, especially if you’re providing a professional service.

“Good workflow” is the ability to find and maintain customers in a manner that gives you sufficient work without overwhelming your schedule or abilities. That means keeping project overruns to a minimum and ensuring you have more work lined up for when you reach the end of a job, all while maintaining a little breathing space to ensure you don’t burn out.

  1. Financial accountability

I regularly hear that cashflow remains one of the biggest pain points for all small business ventures. An ideal solution is prompt invoicing and pursuing overdue invoices in a timely manner. This is where technology can really help the self-employed.

By finding a cloud accounting product that is custom built for you as a sole operator, you’ll be able to manage your cashflow more efficiently by, for example, invoicing easily and seeing a financial overview of your business in real time. Some, such as QBSE, even enable you to track your mileage automatically, doing away with fiddly logbooks.

Nicolette Maury, Vice President and Country Manager, Intuit Australia