The SODA Formula
Freelancing takes colossal and constant effort.
Sometimes you’re the CEO, sometimes you’re doing the work to actually ship or make things happen. Whichever hat you’re wearing, things become easier when you manage work using ‘the SODA Formula’.
Work should, as much and as often as possible, be:
- Delegated, done by you – or dumped
Systemise everything you can
I once attended an Entrepreneurs Circle seminar at Wembley Stadium for owners of SMEs, the theme of which was Las Vegas.
One of the ideas that was discussed was that Las Vegas’ huge hotels can only operate successfully because they rely on systems.
There’s a system in place for everything, from the moment someone spills a drink on the foyer floor to the hotel’s marketing team promoting their establishment.
And every other business, it was suggested, should do the same – and not leave things to chance.
Systems can be automated (see below) or executed manually, and can include:
- The way you get clients/customers/leads
- How you bring customers back once they’ve bought from you
- How you quote for a job
- How you create content (from idea generation to the actual writing or designing of the thing)
- How you promote that content
- How you invoice
- How you market yourself
I could go on (as usual).
A great way to build successful systems is to work backwards from a desired outcome and consider what must be done to achieve it.
Remember that systems go wrong – people do mess up from time to time, so be alert.
(Simple, Repeatable) Systems
Another reference to the marvellous TWFW*: have systems for everything that is simple and repeatable.
Writing blog posts, raising and paying invoices, prospecting – these can and should be simple systems that you can repeat, time after time.
Of course there’ll be things that vary but when you try to do the same things over and over again as much as possible you become more efficient.
Got a task that will take up your precious time? Or something that needs doing that you either don’t like doing or you’re simply not good at?
Mrs P once asked if I could hang up one of our children’s new blackout blinds when she’d ordered them.
I asked her how much more it would cost if we ordered them from a different shop – one where they send someone who puts them up for you.
“Thirty or forty pounds,” she said.
“I’ll pay it,” I replied.
Why? Because I hate doing stuff like that – and I’m no good at it. The closest thing to a power tool that I own is my electric toothbrush.
So if you’ve got a task that someone else could just as easily do – and it’ll save you time and let you get on with the stuff that only you can do – outsource it.
It took me years to get out of the habit of trying to do absolutely everything in and for my business. Why do I have to learn how to write php code? I don’t. I’ll hire a specialist to do it if need be.
How do I create an infographic (it looks like a nightmare)? I don’t have to.
How do you write blog content when you’re busy doing everything else you have to do? Get someone else to do it.
There are so many resources available now that just weren’t around even a few years ago. Here are just a few…
And here’s a brief list of some of the work people on there will do for you:
- Music & Audio – eg “I will host your next podcast”
- Bookkeeping – eg “I will provide 30 mins UK financial, tax, bookkeeping consultancy for $5”
- Video & Animation – eg “I will do Anything On Green Screen And MORE for $5”
- Graphic design projects
- Virtual assistant tasks
- Social network marketing
- And so on…
Delegate it, do it yourself – or dump it
Even when you’ve automated, systemised and outsourced as much work as you can, you’re still going to be left with some that only you can do (or that you don’t want anyone else to do).
If you have one or more people to delegate tasks to, do it.
If you’re a one-man-band, however – like me – you can’t, so you either have to do it yourself or dump it. Don’t let things fester as you move them from one To Do list to another for weeks on end. There’s a reason you’re not doing that thing you keep putting off.
If there are elements of your work that need doing frequently and/or regularly that technology can do for you at an acceptable cost, use it.
Email software, such as Aweber* (which I use), Infusionsoft and Mailchimp are great examples of this. They allow business owners to collect email addresses and send messages to people automatically, day in, day out.
Another good example is Hootsuite, which I’ve used to tweet without going near Twitter. I load a week’s worth of tweets into Hootsuite on a Monday and it sends them out on my behalf at times of my choosing.
I should add that I also tweet manually throughout the week as well – it is a social platform, after all.
Even WordPress allows you to write a post in advance and schedule it to go out automatically, which is how this post was originally published.
There a loads of tools available for all kinds of tasks, so make the most of them.
What do you think of this list? Is there anything you can add to it? Get in touch here.