5 small business lessons from my kitchen

My kitchen and my small business aren’t often on speaking terms.  They don’t generally have a great love relationship, as one is invariably taking me away from the other.

But this past week, they put the antagonism aside and actually worked with each other for once!

5 small business tips from my kitchen

It all started when I made a list, a menu of sorts, with 3 things on it.

One dish for breakfast. One for lunch. One for dinner.

And then, wait for it, I actually made them. Cooked them right there in the aforementioned kitchen. Those 3 dishes.

I made them, and even portioned them out, so that on each day this past week, at each meal time I pretty much just had to open the fridge, take out the allotted portion, heat and eat.

And I’m here to tell you that it was awesome. Having the stress and decision making of the daily food prep taken off my mind was fabulous! It freed me up, time-wise and mental-space-wise.

And, it was in this glow of smug domestic productivity that I heard my kitchen quietly pass on these three reminders to my small business.  

It didn’t rub it in. (It wasn’t rocket science after all.) But it simply shared that what had been learned in the kitchen could also apply equally well to business. As so many life lessons can.

Lesson 1: Plan

It all started with a plan. Simple? You bet. But plans don’t have to be complicated to work. In your business you might call this your strategy. It’s basically having a goal (where you want to get to) and some steps for how you’ll achieve it. And doing this on a weekly basis is a good chunk of time to work with when you’re getting started.

In my kitchen this looked like:

Goal: this week I will spend less time in the kitchen each day, including meal preparation and tidy-up.

Plan: to achieve this goal at the start of the week I will:

  • choose 3 dishes,
  • buy the ingredients for them,
  • make them, and
  • portion them out.

In my business this could look like:

Goal: this week I will add 5 new email subscribers to my list

Plan: to achieve this goal this week I will:

  • Add a relevant download to the end of my weekly blog post.
  • Add a link to my email opt-in my sidebar.
  • Pin an optimised picture to my blog post on Pinterest
  • Actively pin on Pinterest each day (5 repins + 2 new pins each day)

Lesson 2: Batch

Batching is a no brainer in life. For example: when we go to the mailbox we “batch” collecting the mail.  We don’t just take out the junk mail, thinking, we’ll come back and get the bills later in the day, and then later still the ‘real’ letters. No, we get all the mail out at once. We batch it.

It’s common sense in this scenario, but think about the other things we batch every day. We batch the dishes (washing the plates, glasses and cutlery all at once). We batch the washing (sorting out loads of dark, lights, and towels, and then washing them one by one). We batch watching TV (or is that binge watching…I don’t know sometimes they sound a bit the same ;).

In my kitchen this looked like:

At the start of the week cooking a quantity of food that is large enough to ensure I didn’t have to do more food prep during the week.

In my business this could look like:

  • On Monday: drafting all the blog posts I’m planning for the next month.
  • On Tuesday: creating all the graphics (blog images, Pinterest images, Facebook images, etc) that will go with those blog posts.
  • On Wednesday: publishing and scheduling all the blog posts.
  • On Thursday: scheduling all the relevant social media posts that will promote that post (either manually or using tools like Latergram, Tailwind, etc).
  • On Friday: drafting complementary email newsletters that will go out for the next month.

So that at the end of the week I have all my blog and social media promotion activities for the month completed, and I can spend the remaining 3 weeks in the month concentrating on actually doing business.

Lesson 3: Keep it Simple (Sweetie)

Sometimes we like to make it harder on ourselves than necessary. No one else knows what’s in your mind. No one else knows that you had grand visions for gourmet culinary delights. You shouldn’t over stress yourself with trying to do everything perfectly all the time. Because that is a sure road to never getting it done. And I need to remind myself constantly that “Done” 80% well is better than “Not done” 100% well.  

When I keep it simple, not only do I get it done, but I am more likely to do it again, and I don’t get bogged down trying to make one small thing perfect, when I should be focussing on moving the whole thing forward.

In my kitchen this looked like:

Planning simple, quality food, that would extend over the whole week, and that would not take too long to prepare.

This meant cooking a simple nut loaf (where I just threw all the ingredients in my food processor, hit blend, and poured it out into an oven tray). Cooking a bit pot of soup, where I diced large quantities of a few vegies, and set them to simmer away, then plonked that saucepan in the fridge. It meant making a simple vegetable muffin type loaf, that I could then cut up, and toast on the sandwich press each morning.

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I wasn’t getting any cooking awards for that menu. But it was good, wholesome, filling food. And most importantly it was easy to make.

In my business this could look like:

  • Creating a basic template that I use for my social media images (that has my logo/URL, and maybe some distinctive flourishes in place) so I just have to change out the background image, and maybe change the text a little each time I create a new image.
  • Using a simple Google Spreadsheet for tracking and planning, rather than getting caught up in finding and using all the latest shiny new tools people are always recommending.
  • Publishing one quality blog post a week, rather than straining myself to publish something every day.
  • Announcing a new program, course, or webinar before I’m 100% happy with it!!

Lesson 4: Reduce Decision Making

It’s an increasingly well documented fact that we each have a finite amount of decisions that we can make in each day, and that the more decisions we make during the course of the day the lower their quality.

This is why Barak Obama famously said: “You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits, I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” (Business Insider)

It’s why capsule wardrobes and ‘uniforms’ for adults have become a thing.

By not having to make decisions about the everyday, we’re free to make better decisions about the more important things that will happen during the day.

In my kitchen this looked like:

By only having one thing to choose from for each meal I essentially eliminated the need to make 3 major decisions in my day.

One of which occurs early in the morning (when I’m trying to reserve my limited daily dose of decisions) and one late in the day (when I’ve pretty much run out of my daily dose – and am bound to make stupid decisions like – going down the street for takeaway instead of cooking something from the perfectly good ingredients in my fridge).

In my business this could look like:

Sorting myself out so I don’t have to re-make decisions each time I go to do a task:

  • Such as setting up templates for things I create regularly, like blog post images, or new client meetings. (I don’t have to keep “deciding” what colours or fonts to use, or what questions I need to ask new clients, as I’ve already made those decisions previously. A template is just a reminder of the decisions I’ve already made.)
  • Taking that a step further I would document the whole blog creation or client process, with the preferred way I like things done, checklists to make sure I don’t forget anything, and even videos on how to do each step. (This will be useful for me when I’m repeating steps in my business (especially those that happen semi-regularly) and will also make it easy for me to hand off tasks to someone else when I’m ready to get support in my business – such as hiring a virtual assistant!).

Lesson 5: Share with Others

When something is good you don’t want to keep it to yourself. When there are things in our life that we enjoy, that we find useful, that help us out, that give us an a-ha, we share it with those around us so that they can get the benefits too.

In my kitchen this looked like:

I shared the recipe for my nut loaf with 2 people at work, as well as making a batch to take to a friend’s on the weekend. Plus, when I told my Mum (who had given me the recipe in the first place) that I’d finally gotten around to making it, she asked me to send it back to her, as she’d lost it.

In my business this could look like:

Remembering that people need the products or services that I have. And that it would be unfair of me not to share it with them 😉

Do you have a product that will help people do something better in the kitchen? Do you have help people get on track with their fitness? Do you help people build awesome websites? These are all problems that people are struggling with right now, and if you have the answer don’t you think they’d like to know it?

Don’t be afraid to share what you do with your audience. You don’t want to bombard them, and make them sick of the sight of you, but if you are consistently providing value to people then every now and then don’t be ashamed to slip in some of the things you can help them with (ie: your products and services).

It might help to think of a formula like 3:1.

For every 1 piece of self-promotion you share (sharing your new blog posts, promoting your products, etc) you should provide 3 pieces of value (tips & tricks, other people’s content, your professional advice – without expecting anything in particular, etc).

How could these help you this week?

My kitchen’s a bit smart, yeah? I needed those reminders this week.

How about you? Can you think of examples in your business this coming week, where you could use these 5 points to help you get things done? What things in your business could you plan and make simpler so you actually get them done?

Let me know in the comments below!

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