Bento For Business

Worst Productivity Advice for Solo Practitioners

A lot of productivity advice out there is written for business owners with at least one employee or startup founders out to create the next life-changing app. Plus, there’s a lot of advice floating around out there. Not all of it applies to solo practitioners happily providing a valuable service like bookkeeping or tax prep.

Here are some of the worst tips I’ve seen for solo operators, plus what you can do instead to maximize your productivity.

Bad Advice: Minimize or Eliminate Meetings

If you spend your days in an office surrounded by coworkers, meetings can indeed be a productivity sap. But if you’re on your own, working from a home office, meetings are an essential time to engage with clients (and, you know, talk to humans).

Sure, you want to make sure you keep meetings productive, but pushing to minimize or eliminate them altogether can lead to disengaged clients, which can lead to clients who become former clients.

Better Advice: Think of client meetings as prime time for building and strengthening relationships. Rather than cutting back on meeting time, go in with a plan:

  • Set an agenda and goal for every meeting. Share these with your clients to keep things focused.
  • Create an informal agenda that you don’t share. Include some less-business-focused questions that will help you build rapport. This makes you—and the impression and recommendations you make—stickier.
  • Ask about new initiatives the client has going on. This keeps you in the loop and ensures you don’t get caught off guard when they throw something new at you.
  • Be on alert for any frustrations the client is feeling. They may be hesitant to proactively email about these, so meetings may be the only time you hear about them. This lets you take steps to address the frustration before it becomes a reason for them to end the engagement.

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Bad Advice: Avoid Social Media

Social media can definitely lead to wasted time, but it can also be an important place to get advice from other professionals, vent about problems you’re having, and otherwise build your network. Building relationships with your peers in the low-stakes arena of social media helps drive more meaningful (and long-term) engagement than you might get at a more formal, in-person “networking” event.

Better Advice: Create a habit around when you spend time on social media. Rather than letting your social time mushroom, stick to your routine and let your online relationships develop naturally.

Bad Advice: Delegate Non-Essential Tasks

As much as you may want to delegate certain jobs, that’s just not possible when you’re the only person in your business. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should do every tiny administrative task that’s necessary to keep your practice afloat.

Bad Advice: Delegate Non-Essential Tasks

Better Advice: Automate what you can, and outsource things you can pay someone to do more cheaply than you can (based on what your time is worth and the going rate for these tasks). Not sure where to start? Check out this piece I wrote about five things you can automate or outsource ASAP for a more efficient business.

Bottom Line: Know When to Ignore the Conventional Wisdom

There’s a lot of advice out there for small-business owners. A lot. And much of it is irrelevant or downright harmful when applied to solopreneurs. To get the most out of your practice, it’s important to seek out insight from more experienced practitioners – but it’s just as important to know when to ignore the conventional wisdom and do what makes sense for you.



About the Author

shuyi headshotShuyi Shang works closely with accounting partners (Bento Expense Experts, a.k.a. BEEs) at Bento for Business, a QB-friendly solution that combines Visa® debit cards with a desktop/mobile platform to control and track employee expenses. She loves her QBO community and is a regular participant of the weekly QBOChat on Twitter.