Your business needs some structure even if you don’t like structure. I’ve never seen someone have a successful business without at least some structure. If you have no structure at all, you run the risk of constantly firestomping whatever the latest crisis is.
What structure does is give you a way to prioritize and plan what you want to get done, and it helps allocate your time in a way that is consistent with your goals. Structure means that you don’t reinvent the wheel every time you do the same task over and over. It means you think about and plan your projects before tearing into them.
The problem many solopreneurs face is that they don’t like structure! Some, like me, may have had bad experiences in overly-rigid corporate organizations. Some may be more artistic or creative and structure feels too constricting. Still others may resent the idea of having any structure in a solopreneur business – after all, why go solo if you have to have rules and constraints?
The answer is to make structures you can live with. Make them fluid, flexible and adaptable. In a solopreneur business, you make the rules and you can break them. There’s nothing to say you have to follow them to the letter every time. Leave some space in both your structures and your mind to do things a little differently or not as rigorously.
Here’s an example from my own business:
I have a daily list I do most days just to clear the air and keep things tidy. It’s kind of like the business equivalent of cleaning up after a meal – do the dishes, put the food away, wipe up and give the floor a quick sweep. My daily list has things like clearing my email in box, posting on social media, blogging and whittling away at all the “to be read” emails. Here’s where the flexibility comes in – I don’t do all of those things every day. I do most of them on most days, and all of them on other days but it’s just a general guideline for me to follow. Nobody cares if they all get done or not (including me). If I’m particularly pressed for time I have the “must do” items highlighted. If I’m on the road, I use the guide to pre-schedule some social media updates and blog entries and then just focus on keeping urgent items caught up. I know I’ll get to the rest when I get back and start using my process again.
What ideas do you have about structure that keeps you from implementing it in your business? Does it feel too stuffy and creativity-killing? How could you create structures that leave room for flexibility? Tell me about it in the comments.