Minal meets… Michelle Collins, Pink Spaghetti
Something that is a challenge for all small business owners is organising their time effectively. That’s why I decided to speak to Michelle Collins of Pink Spaghetti.
As well as running her own business, Michelle and her team look after a variety of small businesses.
So, who better to talk through time organisation tips and when you should think about outsourcing some of those tasks you keep putting off!
Minal: Tell me a bit about your business. What do you specialise in?
Michelle: Pink Spaghetti Chester & North Wales help to improve small businesses across our local area and beyond by handling their daily admin tasks and allowing small business owners to work on their business, instead of in their business.
If business owners are spending more time working for their business, than on their business, it’s time to get help! Our industry-leading team provides social media management, administration, database management, copywriting, and business development tasks.
Minal: When and why did you start your business?
Michelle: In 2015, I was made redundant from a strategic public sector role due to privatisation. I had primary school-aged children and was used to juggling a lot of responsibilities: voluntary, studies, work.
I had spent the previous 12 months as part of an amazing fund-raising team to raise funds so a local child fighting a rare and aggressive stage 4 cancer could access life-saving medical treatment abroad. I did this using social media, communication and a whole lot of determination.
I learned a lot of skills and met a lot of new people, one of whom sent me a link to the Pink Spaghetti website and suggested that this would suit me after redundancy. When I looked at each section of the website it seemed to be perfectly written for me! I was so enamoured with the concept I committed to it there and then, got in touch with my franchisors, and went through the application process and started business as soon as I was able.
Organising your time
Minal: First thing’s first. How do you organise your time?
Michelle: When managing multiple clients planning is key! I am a firm believer in a to-do list as I am very task orientated and work through methodically unless something comes in that needs to take priority.
I ensure that team queries are prioritised throughout the day so that they have everything that they need to complete the work for our clients. I also plan quarterly reviews with clients and have weekly meetings with busy clients in the diary weeks in advance.
Minal: One of my favourite ways to organise myself is a to-do list. What do you think about them and which tools do you recommend for creating to-do lists.
Michelle: I love a to-do list and I have managed my home and business using an app called todoist for the last few years; the free version is fantastic. It is incredibly beneficial for keeping on top of recurring tasks and assigning projects to different team members. With a quick glance, I can see where my team are up to with projects.
We also use Trello and Asana for different clients and we love the versatility of these tools and the fact that volumes of information can be shared on the free accounts, which means that they suit small businesses perfectly.
Minal: Most of my readers are solo business owners. What should they do to make sure they are working on their business, rather than in it?
Michelle: My advice would be to not sweat the small stuff. Have a trusted team in place to have your back so that you don’t have to do everything. Even if you need to outsource to achieve this and to concentrate on what only you can do (the reason why you started your business) and delegate the rest.Get better organised by having a team in place to have your back, says Michelle Collins. #MinalMeets Click To Tweet
Minal: What would you say is the number one task most people put off?
Michelle: Time-consuming tasks are often bumped down the priority list, such as dealing with invoices and expenses, updating databases and websites and social media management.
We also find that a lot of our clients put off tasks that they are less confident about such as creating presentations in PowerPoint, updating new branding on documents such as application forms and order forms, and blog writing.
Now, for the tips
Minal: How should people avoid procrastination?
Michelle: It is so easy to put off tasks that you have no passion for. Of course, the easy answer is to delegate or outsource, but if that isn’t an option then there are several tips to stop postponing tasks or projects.
- set a deadline to achieve your goal by
- get organised (use an app, if you need, to set your task out into several steps)
- get rid of distractions (even if that means switching off your phone)
- tackle the more challenging aspects first
- use incentives (because who doesn’t love a reward!)
- tell someone about your goal or what you hope to achieve – this gives you accountability and makes you more driven.
Minal: When should business owners outsource?
Michelle: Clients often seek my help when they find they are spending more time being run by their business than running it. The old adage ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ comes to mind.
It’s easy to lose track of why you set your business up and what you hoped to achieve when all the tasks start to mount up. Taking time to outsource tasks and projects that are not core to what makes your business unique to experienced professionals is vital to achieving your goals.
Minal: What should they consider when outsourcing?
Michelle: Outsourcing to a virtual personal assistant is a big deal. It takes a level of trust and openness to let someone else see what is going on inside your business. Being prepared to lay your cards on the table and asking for help is an important first step you need to be prepared to make.
The top three things we ask prospective clients to tell us is:
- what repetitive tasks they have to undertake
- which tasks they don’t know how to do and
- which they don’t want to do.
These answers give us a great starting point for determining how we can help.Outsourcing to a virtual personal assistant is a big deal. It takes a level of trust and openness to let someone else see what is going on inside your business. #MinalMeets Click To Tweet
Minal: Finally, are there any other organisational tools you would recommend?
Michelle: Toggl is an incredible app for time recording, even if you are not billing clients based on time, it is good to get an understanding of where your time is being spent.
We also love Dropbox which is a cloud storage device that allows users to save documents in a special folder on their computer which synchronises to the cloud so the same folder appears on whichever device/computer it viewed on.
Hootsuite is another tool that we couldn’t live without! We can schedule social media content days, weeks or even months ahead which means we never miss out important dates that we want to shout about.
For keeping on top of expenses and invoicing for ourselves and clients we find Xero really easy to use.