Most people start a business to be their own boss, take charge, and follow their dreams, and change their lives. But for a first time business owner, there can be some very unexpected battles to learn the skills, responsibility and discipline it takes to ‘be their own boss’. When you are in charge, EVERYTHING changes. You are responsible for generating the orders, not following them. You are the lead. You are responsible for wearing the many hats needed for your business to succeed, such as operator, accountant, visionary, debt collector and organiser. The amassed collection of all these roles of varied and specific skills has a name of its own: Management. When you own your own business, you’re fending for yourself. Your income depends on what you put in.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out”

Robert Collier


So what do I think are the key in ingredients to building a successful, efficient and disciplined business?  Here are my ‘go to’ guidelines for keeping yourself and your business on track:

Set Working Hours

When you are self-employed , it is so important to set a schedule for yourself. Setting boundaries and knowing what your day is going to look like will keep you on track and on target! The important thing is to be strict with yourself. Stick to your schedule – There will be things that need to be tackled daily e.g. social media and replying to emails (carve specific time or this into your day). Don’t try and ‘tweak’ your day as it goes along, there’s  always the temptation to think ‘I can do that tomorrow’ (but then something will pop up that also needs doing and you are out of time) or ‘if I squeeze this job in today, then I can free up tomorrow’ but if you do that every day, the free time never comes!

If you stick to your working hours and daily/weekly schedule of tasks you need to complete, then you will achieve your goals much more quickly, because you will have time to actually action them!

Here’s a link to our Free Virtual Bird Admin Planner to help you work out what to plan when.

Be Tough (with yourself) But Not Hard (on yourself)

YOU are in charge, YOU are responsible or your success, so it falls on YOU to ensure you keep yourself on track. Be firm with yourself, and do what you have planned to do, when you have planned to do it. Don’t  get bogged down in the temptations of working from home with ‘I’ll just watch this, or do this load of washing, or bake this cake (I mean, we all love cake right? But if its not scheduled, you don’t have time!).

But also remember, don’t be hard on yourself! Sometimes things don’t go to plan, the unexpected happens, and that’s ok! Don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re organised, you have the ability to  ‘re-jig’ things to make up for the blip.. and move on. Bashing yourself will only lower your mood and cause you to be less productive!

Dress Like You Mean It!

And no, this is not me telling you to dress in suit and pearls and a full face every day (although if that’s your thing … go for it)! But think about the effect on your mentality being dressed and ready for the day has. Get up, get out of bed (I know its comfortable to stay in there nice and cozy to work … but it doesn’t do your productivity any good), and get dressed. Then you will both feel and be ready to work.

There are always going to be days when you want to stay in your pjs all day and work, but just think, your at work. WOULD YOU GO INTO THE OFFICE IN YOUR PJS?

Set Goals

The only way to achieve what you want is to work out how to get there (the steps) and plan what you need to do to achieve these (goals). You can then plan the task to complete the steps and goals into your daily schedule to help you ensure you achieve them.

Remember to keep goals S.M.A.R.T and think of the bigger picture!

Here’s a fab link on how to plan SMART goals for you business.


To ensure its success, you need to invest in your business. This not only means fiscally, but with yourself. If there are tools you need to complete your tasks, invest in them to help your productivity, efficiency and completed jobs grow. Invest in getting to know your customers. Build strong rapport with them to nurture returning custom, and great reviews!

Learn To Be Decisive

Making decisions is possibly the riskiest part of a managing a business, but it’s also one of the most important. Being indecisive, not only takes up more time, but can hinder making the best choice. To be an effective manager you need to know that making a decision and taking action is almost always better than taking no action at all. What’s also important is to remember that your decisions may not be perfect and, therefore, that modifications may be needed. Don’t hesitate to modify or alter your decisions when it becomes clear that the original decision isn’t working out exactly as planned. You know what’s best for your business … so use that instinct and knowledge to help you make choices.


Never Stop Learning

The world of business is a roller-coaster of developments. New ways of working, new ways of accessing potential customs, and new platforms for delivering your service. If something new is developed, that is beneficial and applicable to your business, invest some time investigating it. Block out some time in your schedule to get to know how it works, I it will support your goals, and then plan time to start using it. Remember, the more you know the better equipped you are to deal with what occurs in your business without panicking.

Learn To Prioritise

Prioritising is a key skill to learn for life, not just for business.

“Change is the only constant in Business, those who are able to adapt will win”.

Alfred Herrhaussen

The ability to prioritise the continually changing needs of your business will allow you to ensure things get done, deadlines are met, and your business continues to succeed. Here at Virtual Bird, I swear by my Ladies That Plan Planner. The great colour coded sections for each day are invaluable to help me prioritise tasks for the day and ensure my deadlines are met. Check out their website for some awesome planners.

Set Work Boundaries

When working from home, and being your own boss, it’s easy to ‘take your eye off the ball’. Even I its or a few minutes a day, it all adds up, and eats into the productivity time of your business. SO, try and have some firm boundaries for yourself, as well as with others. Remember no socialising on the clock, even if it’s a 5 minute read here and there on social media, it cuts into your work time, so save it for your breaks. It can be difficult for family and friends to understand sometimes that just because you’re the boss (and working at home) doesn’t mean you can slack off. Make it clear to your family and friends your working hours, and ask them to respect this as time when you can’t be interrupted.

Know Your Limits

Don’t under or overestimate your own capabilities. If you are capable of doing something, and have the time in your schedule, take on the challenge. It’s how businesses grow and learn!

Its also invaluable to identify when you need help. Knowing when to outsource tasks, e.g. if it’s an area of business you are not familiar with, not confident in completing, or you just don’t have the time to complete the work, can be a real lifesaver. Not only can sharing the load lighten your stress levels but can ensure all tasks are done regularly to a high standard. Being boss means knowing when to outsource!

Running your own business is a tough learning curve and you will pick more tips up every day as you carve a routine, the most important thing to remember is to never lose your spirit for what you do. As long as you love your job, the rest will follow eventually.


So go forth and smash your goals and become comfortable being the boss!

The Virtual Bird Team x

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