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How Do You Put Child Locks on a Small Business? Let Me Show You What I Did

One thing I haven’t really discussed here – and I like to give you guys behind-the-scenes every now and again – is how I’ve been #BizNesting.

You see, when I quit my day job in January 2013 to pursue Frugal Confessions and writing full time, it was never with the intention that when we had a baby I would quit again.

Though priorities have changed, and my time will undoubtedly be more staggered now, Frugal Confessions is my first baby and always will be!

Still, I’m a planner and a realist, and so prepping my biz for my biggest life change since moving to Texas and getting married five years ago has been at the top of my to-do list all year long.

So, what does Frugal Confessions #BizNesting look like?

Plenty of Fresh Content, Scheduled Ahead of Time

One of the things I envisioned for myself and our new baby is a lot of mommy time, especially in the beginning. And I wanted that to be as guilt-free mommy time as possible. This meant that while I would love to check in on commenters here on the blog as well as on social media, I didn’t want to be attempting to create the actual articles the week before they go live like I normally would do.

In order to achieve this – where I’m checking in on comments only for several months – over the last ten months, not only have I written my normal blog content (a new post each Monday), but I’ve also been working on adding articles to what I call my Baby Blog Bank.

I figured out that to give myself a six-month maternity leave – of sorts, as I still will be working with clients on freelance writing, as well as working on anything I’d like to – I would need to create 24 awesome articles to schedule in advance for Mondays between October and April.

No big deal, right (oh my)?

In order to not get completely overwhelmed, an emotion I felt a lot of during my pregnancy, I created a simple word doc where I outlined each month, slotted each Monday, and filled it in as I went. More on my systems in the sections below.

Freshening Up My Technology

In last July I had a break in my backup system. While driving home from a coffee shop work session, my flash drive – which has my entire biz life on it – snapped in two.

Thank the Lord, literally, that only six days earlier I had done something I rarely ever did: copied and pasted all the files on my flash drive into a backup folder on my desktop. Had I not done that, this mama would have had possibly the biggest meltdown of her existence as she watched 500+ posts and unforetold amounts of information that I’ve worked so hard to gather go “poof”.

That was my wake-up call that I needed to freshen up my backup system big time. It took about a month for me to research different options, talk to others about their experiences with it, then get over the tech mental block of actually making such a huge change. And that first day of not plugging in my flash drive made me feel like I was in some foreign online world. But it all paid off, especially when one week after making the switch, my own laptop broke its hinge and had to be sent back into Dell for 12-15 business days.

The switch I made was to Google Drive. It allows me to keep everything secure on “the cloud” (please don’t ask me to explain that, as I’m pretty much a technophobe who, by necessity of her times, turned to blogging despite the obvious discord). I work from a folder on my desktop, and it automatically syncs with “the cloud” folder of mine in Google Drive. Then if I want to work from another laptop or a phone, I simply need to download Google Drive onto their desktop or sign-in online and everything is right there. No more flash drives. If my laptop goes kaput (as it has three times now in the 2 years that I’ve owned it, causing me to send it back into Dell for 12-15 business days and have them wipe it in the process), I’m no longer at its mercy.

It’s brilliant!

Not only that, but it allows me to work pretty seamlessly with my VA (see below).

Another huge project I undertook this year was revamping my course delivery + my shopping cart. I upgraded to Wishlist, a membership site plugin, and used it to create a membership site for The Debt Manipulator 3.0 as well as a shopping cart system for each of my products. Getting this done, tested, and working before maternity leave was a huge boost of confidence and sanity for this mama-to-be.

And did I mention that, with the help of WPCurve’s $69/month tech service, I was able to get everything converted to mobile responsive on my site? This was a huge need after going to something called Google Analytics and realizing that over 50% of you guys visit here through your mobile device. It took several months, but was well worth it.

Digi-Nesting My Online World

I’ve got an offline world and an online world. While my offline world is mainly clutter free, organized, and serene, my online world can get pretty chaotic, pretty quickly.

So I spent some time not only nesting in our home – yay for baby baskets, uncluttering drawers, and getting projects accomplished I’ve wanted to do for years – but also I put some real effort into nesting my online world as well.

This has meant:

  • Once I set up my new backup system on Google Drive, I completely revamped all of the files that were on my flash drive into easily recognizable folders with fun names like “Sharpen Your Skills” and “Biz Foundations” (thanks to Courtney Johnston of The Rulebreaker’s Club for this tip!).
  • After figuring out my Google Chrome collection of favorites resembled that of the Museo Del Prado’s basement, I spent some time culling back. I started with 1,000+ items in my favorites, and ended up with less than 800. This meant I actually read the articles, watched the videos, listened to the podcasts, rearranged, implemented what I wanted to, and then trashed the links that no longer served me.
  • I cleaned up my desktop so that in the precious time I get to actually open it and work on my biz, I’m not immediately overwhelmed by too many icons and choices.

Creating a Solid Relationship with a Virtual Assistant (VA) Well Ahead of Time

I did not hire a VA two weeks before our due date. Quite frankly, that would be a horrible time to do so. Instead, I worked with my first VA two years ago, learned many lessons in delegating, speaking up, and communicating what I need, and then moved onto a second one. I learned even more with the second VA.

Finally, I moved onto a third VA, Mina, who has been helping me run Frugal Confessions for over a year now.

Google Drive helps with this immensely, as I have one folder called “Ops Manual” that I share with my VA so that I can upload what I need her to schedule and work on. Here’s how our working relationship happens:

  • Thanks to Amber McCue’s awesome program, How to Clone Yourself (I cannot recommend this enough to an online small biz owner), I was able to identify the tasks that I shouldn’t be working on, or don’t want to work on, and that I can delegate to someone else. She’s also got a great free workshop you might want to start with that can really open your eyes to the possibilities: Get Efficient Workshop.
  • Based on these two awesome programs, I took the time to create an Operations Manual for Frugal Confessions. This is a collection of documents (all online in the cloud for easy editing as my biz evolves and changes) that provide a step-by-step for how to complete certain tasks. Tasks include things like how to schedule a post on FrugalConfessions.com, how to edit images, how to source social media updates, and basically everything that a personal financial writer should not be concentrating on when running their business.
  • This Operations Manual is in the shared folder on Google Drive with my VA, so both she and I have the ability to edit documents (which is actually quite nice as I can just send her an email when I think of a change I want to see and have her update the ops doc as needed).
  • I then use Asana, a free program, to schedule tasks (both recurring and one-off ones) with Mina. She receives each new task, the deadline, and digitally checks them off when completed. This then triggers an email to me that the task is completed.

To say I’ve had a busy year with #BizNesting + carrying my little guy + living my life is putting it lightly. And several times I had to walk away from it for some serious downtime because it just got very overwhelming. But as I look back over what I’ve accomplished and how much I’ve moved my business ahead, I couldn’t be more proud or feel more prepared for this next phase of my life.

Thank you for letting me share all of this with you, and I hope that it helps you get an idea of ways to make your own life more efficient, upgraded, and in general run as smoothly as possible so that you can spend more time in the area of “living” and less in the area of “busy-ness”.

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Amanda L Grossman

Personal Finance Writer and CEO at Frugal Confessions, LLC
Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here or on LinkedIn.