Lots of folks avoid making artichokes for dinner because they’re time intensive little buggers.

There’s so much…preparation. And eating them isn’t the easiest thing in the world, either. 

So while there’s a great pay-off at the end (the heart!) AND the eating process can be fun (hands! butter!), lots of folks avoid the overwhelming journey and just opt for potatoes.  

As the owner of a very small business, you might feel like getting your marketing done is as overwhelming as eating an artichoke. It just takes so much…TIME.  

There is, after all, actual work that you need to finish, or you won’t get paid. I get it. I’m in the same boat.

The important thing to remember though, is that every little bit helps. Baby steps are crucial. They move you forward and build good habits.

Habits that can ultimately bring you all the customers you’ll ever need. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, and you can’t figure out when to tackle your marketing, just stop. Breathe. And take a moment to think things through.

This checklist should help you get your arms around the vital task of building your business:

Schedule it. Make a weekly appointment with yourself and keep that time sacred.

Typically, you should spend 20% of your time/money each week on marketing tasks. But if you wait until a spot on your calendar opens up, you’ll never get it done. Work always expands to fill the space. (Parkinson’s’ Law)

Preempt that from happening by blocking out the time now. Go ahead and get your calendar. I’ll wait.

Okay – now take a look at your schedule. What makes the most sense for you? My recommendation is 1 to 2 hours every morning. Early. Before the phone starts ringing. That’s when my brain is fresh and I’m at my most creative. If an hour in the morning won’t work, then schedule it for the afternoon or evening. Or lump it all together into one day. But schedule it now.

Plan it out. Every successful business does the necessary planning.

And don’t forget it’s a continuous process. So don’t think that once you’ve created a plan, you’re done. Nope. Life happens and things change.

You’ve always got to look ahead and make adjustments. But plan!

Start with some research (what’s your competition up to? Where do you find your target market? etc.). Next, move on to how you will get the eyeballs to actually notice you.  (And don’t tell me you don’t have time for research and planning. You just blocked out the time on your calendar.)

So, figure out where you are now. Set some goals. And now, map it out. Create a marketing calendar so you know what you need to work on each week.

If you need help creating your marketing plan, there are lots of great resources out there. Google it. Or you can ask me. It’s what I do. We can look at your budget, and your goals and figure out your most cost-effective and efficient options.

Make it visible. This is especially important if you’re the type of person that works on “out of sight, out of mind” principles.

Get yourself the biggest white board you can find. Or better yet, go on down to your local home improvement store and buy some white board paint. (They have blackboard paint, too.) Paint an entire wall in your office and then plot out your plan three months at a time.

Refer back to that calendar you created. Use your favorite color markers. Make your own system. But make sure it’s up close and in your face. This is a sure-fire way to keep your marketing top-of-mind.

Tackle it. Chunk your goals into smaller bites. (You know…Just like you would eat an elephant.)

Organize your To Do list by time increments: things you can do in 5 minute increments, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, etc. That way, you’ll know what you can expect to do on any given day. And if, by some miracle, a window should open up in your day (say 30 minutes), then you take that next 30-min task and get ‘er done!

Be accountable to someone. If you’re not already part of a mastermind group, find one or create your own.

And then share your goals with them. Knowing that you’ll have to report back to your peers on your progress is great motivation.

For tips on finding and building a mastermind, read Joe Vitale’s Meet and Grow Rich, or check your local MeetUp.com page.

Outsource it. You have your strengths, sure. But that doesn’t mean you’re superhuman.

You really can’t (and shouldn’t) do it all yourself. Figure out what it is you’re good at, what you actually like doing, and then hire someone else to do the rest. There are plenty of affordable options out there — both online and off. Pursue them. Ask your local community college for an intern, or visit elance.com for a virtual marketing assistant.

It’s important to remember that you have an hourly rate. And if you can pay someone else to get something done in half the time it would take you to do it, you’ve just saved yourself a bunch of money!

Does your marketing artichoke feel doable now? It should. And eating it should actually be kind of fun, now that you know how to make time for it.

Have other suggestions? Please add them in the comments at the end of this post and share!