At Ditto, we’re here to help business owners find freedom outside of work again. That’s why we’re so passionate about creating systems that help save time, increase organization and leave owners better suited for success. On our recent episode of “In Systems We Trust,” we spoke to Bart Anestin, owner of Creative Partner, a branding and web design agency. He’s passionate about brand building through visual storytelling, but the origin story of his own business is something that most entrepreneurs can relate to.
It was in 2017 that Bart started Creative Partner, and like many small businesses, he was doing everything he knew how to do. They hadn’t niched down their business, so they had many offerings, including video production, branding, web design, strategy, and more. This was to help build up the small business, but in time, it all became too much. Bart has a wife and two kids, and he realized that he wasn’t spending enough time on the most important thing in his life: his family. Getting out of the constant hustle was the main reason why Bart chose to leave the corporate world and go out on his own...but here he was with the same problems again.
The most common entrepreneur problem
Entrepreneurs are extremely driven, and because of this, they experience a common problem, which is working too much. Like Bart mentioned in our podcast, many entrepreneurs listen to these ultra-successful entrepreneurs and they think if they just work a little bit more, or if they just spend a little more time, they’ll become like them. But the issue with this is that it’s not necessarily about spending more time, but rather making sure your time is well spent.
How do you make sure your time is well spent as an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs have to wear a lot of hats, especially when their business is first starting out. So, how do you ensure that your time is being spent well and you’re not wasting it? The answer is simple, and it’s something Bart at Creative Partner and us at Ditto are passionate about. The answer is to create systems and processes that can be automated and cut down on what we call “work about work.” Here are a few things Bart does to protect his time as a small business owner.
One of the systems that Bart uses is Slack. However, he has a pretty strict rule that he tells everyone who works with Creative Partner. Put Slack on your computer, but not on your phone.
That way, you’re able to stay focused and present in the moment. When you’re working, you’re on your computer and seeing Slack. But when you’re with your family or friends, Slack won’t be distracting you with notifications on your phone.
Schedule all meetings on a specific day
Bart also believes in scheduling your meetings and blocking off your time. So, he schedules all meetings for Thursday. On Wednesdays, he has zero meetings. On Tuesday, he checks in with his team, and on Fridays, he catches up on work like accounting and other things that need to be done.
Bart also uses Asana to keep track of all of the tasks he needs to get done. So, when he has a big chunk of time where he’s able to dedicate a few hours to tasks, he logs into Asana and takes a look at what needs to be done. His company tries to limit emails by assigning tasks in Asana, which gives everyone strict deadlines and reminders, and using Slack for communication.
The more organized, the better
What Bart has realized is that the more organized you can be as a small business owner, the better you will focus and be able to protect your time. It does take a little bit of effort to get organized, but once it’s done, you will see the benefits.
Why systems and processes are so important in small businesses
Many people think that having a small business means they don’t need to focus on systems and processes. Arguably, we think that it means you need them even more. Because there are a thousand things to focus on, it’s unrealistic to expect the business owner to do it all. It’s also unrealistic to bring someone new on and bring them into this chaos when they aren’t sure of how to do most of the work that you’re doing. Before you bring on new help, you need to have everything organized. Not to mention that as an entrepreneur, your name is not scalable. To scale, you need to have a repeatable product or service.
Repeatable products or services are the only way to grow
You can have the best product in the world, but if you have to dedicate all your time and money toward it, it’s not going to be successful. At some point, as an entrepreneur, you have to bring on help. Bart made a great point when he said that the greatest obstacle you’ll have to overcome as a solopreneur is how to make a system so you’re not the sole decision-maker. You are the bottleneck in your business, and you must create systems so you can have a repeatable product or service. This is truly the only way to succeed as a business.
Bart also talks about how his processes have improved over the years. This is not something that will be easy for everyone. It’s going to take time to create your systems and processes. But, to get started, we always recommend looking into simple tools, like Asana, Slack, and Google.
You don’t want to miss this episode of “In Systems We Trust.” Bart’s advice is extremely helpful for all entrepreneurs. It’s realistic, raw, and interesting. If you’re ready to dive into systems and processes, Ditto is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can transform your business.