Is it time to start scaling yourself?

By Francesca Margherita

Photo by Jeremy Cohen, featuring Atish

Hiring help, automating tasks, and reimagining your workflows can transform how you spend your time and help grow your business.

Growing your creative business is hard work, and if you’re running the show alone, it’s really more like taking on three (or more) roles all at once. If the day-to-day management of your business is eating into the time you need to do your creative work, or burning you out, it’s probably time to think about scaling.

Hiring someone, outsourcing or automating tasks, auditing your current workflows to make them more efficient, and reprioritizing how you spend your time can all be helpful tactics to make the most of your time. To help you map out your best next steps, we’ve put together a two-part exercise to help you prioritize what needs to get done, make a plan, and put it into action.

Ready to go? Carve out an hour or so, download this worksheet as your guide, and let’s get started.

Part 1: Get organized

Scaling can help you extend the impact of your creativity, skills, effort, and energy — and to get you out of the weeds. Before making any big changes, the first step is to assess and organize your workload.

1) Catalog your tasks

In order to map a path to your ideal outcome, it’s helpful to start with a comprehensive look at where you are today. Open up the spreadsheet and add all the tasks you do for your creative business, Patreon-related or not. Nothing is too big or too small.

You can also include things you think you should be doing today but don’t have time for right now. But don’t worry about figuring out what you need to be doing a year down the line; for this exercise, focus on today.

2) Rank your tasks

Now, using the list below, grade your tasks using a 1–4 scale, with 1 as the low end, and 4 as the high end. Ask yourself:

  • How much do you like doing this task? Knowing what really fulfills you will help you prioritize your own to-do list later.
  • How much impact does the task have on the business? Tasks that don’t make an impact might be unnecessary busy work or might need to be revamped or reframed so their impact is greater.
  • How much effort or time does it take? This is key to helping you manage your own time and identifying what changes will be most impactful to your schedule.

3) Clean house

Before you start delegating tasks, take a look at your current list and see if there are any tasks you can eliminate, reduce, optimize, or otherwise change for the better. Your goal here is to edit your list down to what truly needs to be done, and to get rid of inefficiencies or any unnecessary time sucks.

Take a particularly close look at the following:

  • Anything low impact but high effort: Most of the time, you’ll want to either cut these tasks (particularly those ranked as 1 for impact and 4 for effort) or revamp them to be much easier and more useful.
  • Anything low impact in general: If it’s not “moving the needle,” somehow key to keeping the business afloat, or bringing you joy, consider whether it’s worth it or not.
  • Anything high effort: For tasks rated a 3 or 4, think about how to make them less time-consuming or more efficient. Of course, not every high-effort task can be made “easier” (see: making art, for example), but you may be able to make some things less cumbersome through tooling, changing part of the process that’s not making a big impact, or breaking it up into more manageable tasks that can be distributed.

Take notes on changes you want to make as you go along, and trim that list down to a dreamy, ideal outline of what really needs to be done.

Now you’re ready to do what we came here to do: make a plan to scale you up.

"Scaling can help you extend the impact of your creativity, skills, effort, and energy — and to get you out of the weeds."

Part 2: Make your scale-up plan

1) Take an informed pass at delegation

Assess what should stay on your personal to-do list going forward, what can be automated, and whether some tasks can or should be owned by another person.

2) Build your personal to-do list

Now that you’ve gauged the tasks on the overall list are a great use of time in general, it’s time to divvy up that list to make sure the tasks you personally complete are a great use of your time. Your goal here is to figure out what you really, truly need and want to do, so you have a crisp outline of your role and what you can delegate.

Ask yourself these two guiding questions as you run through the task list:

  • What tasks do you, personally, truly need to do? (Would things genuinely break or feel inauthentic if they were not in your hands?)
  • What tasks would you be really bummed to not do anymore?

For anything that’s teetering on the edge of “I should do this” and “I could let it go,” consider whether you could train someone to deliver similar outcomes to how you’d do it yourself.

Also, look at whether the task could be broken into two or more parts so your creativity is leveraged, but your time is spared. For example, could “social media” become “writing social posts,” which maybe you still want to do, and “scheduling pre-written posts” and “monitoring replies,” which could both be done by someone else?

3) Write your “somebody else” task list

Once you have your own list together, it’s time to assign the remaining tasks. You might go to a close working partner, an expert in a particular domain, or maybe an organizational app. If you need a hand as you assess, try some of the following questions:

  • Do you see a pattern in the remaining tasks? If, for instance, you’ve got ten administrative tasks, you might be able to solve your problems by finding freelance help or a virtual assistant through a source for freelance talent, such as Fiverr.
  • If someone else did this task, would you need to oversee it closely? If so, this might be a task for someone who works closely with you, like a full-time team member or a regular working partner.
  • Could a tool automate this task? Maybe there’s a tech solution, such as software that categorizes expenses, automates SEO reports, or posts scheduled content to social.
  • Do you need an expert to just handle it? Sometimes hiring outside expertise can even lead to better outcomes than trying to manage a task yourself.

When you’re done, sort your list by potential assignee, and you should have a good picture of who and what you’ll need to bring on to see this plan through.

4) Wrap up with a look at the forest and the trees

Hey, you’ve just done an incredible thing: You mapped out a plan to improve and share your workload. Congratulations! You should now have a clearer picture of each piece of your path forward, including:

  • What is and isn’t driving impact around your business, and what tasks you’ll be changing or refocusing
  • What you absolutely want and need to do yourself
  • The tasks you could automate, so you can pick the right tools
  • What tasks you’ll aim to get some human help for and what kind of help that is

Whether hiring, investing in automation software, or rejiggering your schedule makes most sense for you, now it’s up to you to put it into action. So, gather your newfound perspectives and insights and go forth. You, and your crew, have got this!

How did you know it was time to scale? What resources did you use to make it happen? Talk about it in the Patreon Creator Community Discord server.

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