As entrepreneurs and creatives, we wear so many hat in our businesses. We are creative directors, planners, principle photographers, artists, book keepers, marketing strategists, client relations, janitor, social media managers, content creators, contract executors and so much more! Over the past four years, I have tried to be all of these well and it just doesn’t work. They are not all my gifts. I would venture to say they are not all your gifts either. That’s ok.
In an attempt to save pennies, grow as a business owner and be everything to everyone, I have learned a lot of things the hard way over the years and I do not want you to do that, too. Instead of boring you with all of the details and anecdotes, I have boiled it down to three key points that will help you avoid the blunders and mistakes many of us make – whether new to this journey or stubborn type-A’s who need to let go a bit (guilty over here!!).
Before diving into the trenches, a bit of a disclaimer. These are things that I still need to take my own advice on. This crazy ride we call entrepreneurship is riddled with peaks and valleys, splashes of challenge (ok waterfalls) and more grace than one can imagine. That means that not all of these are going to happen over night. However, I firmly believe that they will help you focus more on the pieces of your business that you are most passionate about.
Play to your strengths – I know this is not the first time you’ve heard this. We are all gifted with wonderful talents that drive our passion for our business. However, given all of the roles necessary to run a business, there is no way we are good at all of them. Enter, the virtual assistant, accountant and occasional family member. We cannot do everything and we certainly cannot do everything well.
So, focus on how you can delegate and get help for the areas that you are not great at. For me, that is primarily the numbers. I wasted so much time my first two years in business come tax season, because I didn’t build in a system and ask for help. I literally rebuild my whole year in excel the first year because I didn’t think to have a darn system in place at all. Then the second year, I bought QuickBooks and didn’t use it – what?!! I was so terrified of the numbers that I just ignored them. SO DUMB! Enter my accountant, mom and husband – the numbers people! Y’all, they saved me. I now know how to enter my receipts and my mom or husband double check my balancing on a MONTHLY basis. No more year end craziness for this girl.
Maybe you love the financial side of your business and don’t like to blog or deal with social media at all. Consider hiring a virtual assistant or get creative with other ways to market your business. When you enlist others to help you, whether on pay roll or the occasional favor, you will have more energy and time to invest in the pieces you shine in, like loving your clients well and delivering a fantastic product!
Let go of self-imposed expectations – We all have them. I see you. You set deadlines that only you know and have control over, but kill yourself to meet them. Right? Hi there, I was you, sweet friend. Why do we do that to ourselves? Setting deadlines is admirable and often times necessary. However, when they are deadlines we impose on ourselves, it only makes sense to give ourselves grace instead of burnout. If your blog post doesn’t happen and you need to write it to post next week instead of tomorrow, do it. If you wanted to get some admin tasks done yesterday, but your family needs you, let it go. Do not keep pushing yourself to keep up with yourself. This notion of perfection we expect is 100% in our heads. Extend the grace to yourself that yo do to others.
Just last week I made a comment to a friend that I did not even have time to paint my nails because I had so much to do. You know what she said? “Who says? You?” Ouch! But you know what, she was right. The schedule I set for myself and the tasks that I want to complete are not always realistic. The beauty of owning your own business is that you have that flexibility to choose what you make time for. So, let’s make time for the things that matter over the blog posts, social media schedule and things that can wait for tomorrow or the next day.
Saying ‘No’ is ok – Oh my goodness, was this one hard! Not only for opportunities that I felt like I might regret passing on, but as a people pleaser. I could quote so many people right now, friends. But it all boils down to this – YOU tell your time where it is spent. YOU are the master of your energies. YOU know what is important to you and need to set those boundaries to align with priorities. If you are overbooked, gracefully decline and recommend someone you think would be a great fit to participate. If you are nearing burnout and have no idea how to rearrange your schedule to fit something in, decline. It is A-Ok. This is such a grey area and one that many of us find challenging. I would encourage you to read “The Best Yes” by Lysa TeurKurst if you struggle with this. It helped me immensely.
When we say no to one thing, we are really saying yes to something else. When we constantly are the ‘yes-(wo)man’ and run in circles to fulfill those commitments, we get burnt out. This can lead to a domino effect of not so great things that can force canceling on other engagements, getting sick and the complete opposite of your original intention. If we do not say no, to make room for rest, work that we are incredibly passionate about and our families, we are no good to anyone. This past year, I have learned to say no in favor of date night, family time or just time for myself to recharge. And you know what? The people I had to say no to completely understood and saw that I was setting boundaries for what matters to me. When people decline something when I ask, they are always so gracious about it and I admire them. I admire that they are prioritizing their hearts, their families and creating better work because of it.
Now, this is still a struggle for me at times. As all of these tips are. Again, all of this is a work in progress. However, if you an start implementing even one of these into your business and life today, I promise you’ll reap the rewards. You will see a change in how you approach your work, how you rest and how you serve others.
I know there are a lot of you entrepreneurs out there. What are some things you have learned that you wish you knew when you started? If you are newer on the scene, what are some of the burning questions you have?