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Getting your life back

MY business is a year old and I am a rat on a wheel. How do I get my life back? The aim is to turn the wheel not be stuck on it.

The first thing to understand is that the first two years are the worst. So if you start up smart, by year three you will realise you have repeat customers, loyal staff, market validation - in other words an established business.

So how do you get there?

Step 1: Are you doing your own books? In fact, are you doing any administration work at all? That is the first thing to sweep off your desk. Get a bookkeeper immediately and get them to send invoices, chase debts, comply with the ATO, pay staff - whatever.

Don't you dare tell me you can't afford it. A good bookkeeper costs $45 an hour. If you don't think you can make $45 in an hour in front of a client selling or marketing your business, then maybe you shouldn't be in business. Your aim in year one and two is to spend as much time as you can selling, marketing and building relationships, a repeat customer base and credibility. Not pushing paper.

Step 2: Hire a sales person. You may know your product inside out but can you close a deal? In my experience great CEOs think they are great sales people and they can be brilliant and passionate. But working out how much money is available, how to pitch and close a deal requires a specialist. Hire someone who is familiar in your industry and can hit the ground running.

Step 3: What can you stop doing? Reassess the business and jettison anything that is not part of the core vision and not making you money.

Step 4: What do you hate doing? That usually means you are bad at it. Outsource it, get an employee to do it or see step three.

Step 5: Be ruthless in how you prioritise your day. Are you spending too long chatting, on social media, doing anything that doesn't contribute to the core vision? Then stop.

You have 10 hours at work, five days a week. That's it. You need to get your work done during those hours. After that you spend time with your family, friends, getting fit and turning off. That's actually how you will get your best strategic ideas and it stops burn out.

Step 6: Take 10 minutes every day to read StartupSmart, other business news and advice, attend events and get a board. There is so much you don't know. Often you don't even know what your problem is until someone else asks the question. Business is really a trade that you have to learn. And the more you know, the smarter your business will be. That's how you get to turn the wheel. And once you are turning the wheel you are in control of your life. 

Amanda Gome is the CEO of online publishing company Private Media, which owns SmartCompany.com.au, StartupSmart.com.au and Crikey.

Ask Amanda or any other StartupSmart Mentor a question here.

This article first appeared onSmartCompany.com.au, Australia’s premier site for business advice, news, forums and blogs.

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