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Have a Business Meeting (Even if It’s with Yourself)


Lorna and I have recently implemented a company-wide policy to have business meetings every other Friday. To date, we’ve had two (our next one is coming up tomorrow). It’s been one of our best moves as a company so far.

Not only do these meetings give us a chance to talk face-to-face, but they provide us with professional and personal steam to keep things going at an efficient pace. And while you may be sitting at home reading this, thinking to yourself, “well, there’s only one of me, so this is kind of a silly post,” I ask you to hear me out. I think having a dedicated time just for catching up on the whens, wheres, and hows of your business is a great way to stay on top of things and keep your motivation strong.

Location, Location, Location

We make it a point to meet somewhere low-key but business-friendly. Most of the time, we end up at one of our city’s local bakeries or cafés. Not only does this give us a chance to stake a claim for several hours without antagonizing anyone and hook up our laptops to free wi-fi, but there’s coffee and big pink cookies, to boot.

Getting away from the house is important for this. Because so much of our time is spent in the same stale computer chairs with household activities buzzing about in the background, a change of venue is a great way to clear our minds and really focus on the task at hand. Plus, my daughter stays at home. There’s a ten-fold increase in productivity right there.

Review the Past Two Weeks

Because we decided on bi-monthly meetings, we have given ourselves just the right amount of time to implement new changes and revisit old ones. Meetings every week seemed a bit much, and meetings once a month were not enough. Goldilocks suggested every other week, and it was just right.

The first thing we do is look at our progress over the last two weeks. This holds us accountable for our actions (to each other and to ourselves), and ensures that nothing is left hanging and neglected. Lorna always takes good notes and then emails them to me, so we both have a record of the meeting. The following list of topics we cover is just as relevant for a one-person business as it is for a two-person one:

  • What were last meeting’s goals?
  • Did we meet all of them? Why or why not?
  • What new clients did we get?
  • What was completed and turned in?
  • Did all payments go through?
  • Are there any follow-up emails that need to be sent out?
  • What successes did we have? Failures?

Get Ready for the Next Two Weeks

Most of the time, we already know in advance what jobs and/or tasks we have coming up. We both compile makeshift lists that let the other person know how we will be spending our time. This is important in a partnership because we both want to pull our fair share of the workload. It’s also important for an individual freelancer because you will be better able to stick to a schedule and keep track of your time. Consider the following questions:

  • What projects are we working on right now?
  • Do we have enough to keep us busy? Too much?
  • How much of our time will be spent writing? Marketing? Querying? Developing a website? Leaving comments in the blogosphere?
  • What long-term projects really need our attention right now?

Set New Goals

As a (fairly) new business, we are still in the developmental stages of figuring out what works and what doesn’t work for us. What was a great idea a few months ago when we were getting started (finding our jobs through Guru.com) is no longer practical or in our long-term vision (finding our jobs through effective marketing). And while transitioning from Guru to intensive marketing is obviously a job to be spread out over several months, it’s good for us to sit down, say it, commit it to paper, and come up with a plan to make it happen.

There are a number of things you can do to make sure your goals are still relevant and feasible. Giving them a check-up every two weeks is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to do so. Here’s what you can do:

  • Put all your original goals in a business plan. (Make sure your goals have specific timelines. Saying you want to have 20 clients is great, but saying you want to have 20 clients by February is even better.)
  • Whenever you are nearing one of the end dates of your goals, make sure you are still on track to get there. Make adjustments, as needed.
  • Check the relevance of old goals. Don’t be afraid to toss out a goal if you find that your hopes and dreams or financial situation no longer warrant it.
  • Make new goals with strict timelines to fit with your overall vision.
  • Come up with a plan of action to actually make that goal a reality.

Catch up with a Friend

Obviously, this will be hard for individual freelancers (unless, of course, you’re really good company). But Lorna and I were friends before we were business partners, and we really do just enjoy hanging out from time to time. Although we try to keep the meetings under two hours, it’s not unheard of for us to spend at least half that time talking about Lorna’s pregnancy, my daughter, the current blog gossip, interesting reads, or the fact that we forgot to feed the meter and now I have a parking ticket. (Is that tax deductible? Does anyone know?)

Even if you don’t have a business partner to make the “meeting” end on a high note, you should still try to make it a positive experience. Congratulate yourself on staying on top of things and celebrate. Have another pink cookie.

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    On December 6th, 2007 at 8:07 pm, James Chartrand - JCM Enterprises said:

    Interesting strategy, and it’s clear that it works for you - good stuff! Harry and I had our own challenges working out staying updated when we started back in early 2006; he’s 3000 miles southwest of me.

    We use IM and email to work in synergy. We used to use IM from dawn to way past dusk, but we’ve recently discovered that staying in touch actually cost us valuable time and added a distraction. Now, we respect each other’s space by using email (no need to reply immediately) and take IM breaks when we need to.

    We learned early on that it’s far more proactive to the partnership to have only one person focus on the tasks he did best while the other did what he did best. Grouping up didn’t work - we were unique people with unique skill sets.

    My advice? Figure out what works best in each partnership - and be ready to change. Flexibility counts.

    On December 7th, 2007 at 5:41 pm, Kaj Rietberg said:

    It sounds a bit like the weekly review of GTD of Allen Davis. To see how things are going and what to do next. It is also important when one is alone to do that to stay on top.

    I agree with you on this story. Great story!

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    1. Freelance Writing Jobs » Blog Archive » Weekend Link Love for December 8th, 2007 on December 8th, 2007 at 10:30 am

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