I want to talk really candidly about something that I have been giving a lot of thought to over the last few months… And that is building a business around the life that you actually want, as opposed to making your life fit around your business.
I think that a lot of us start our businesses with this idea of ‘freedom’ in mind, and we have a very specific idea of what this will look like for us. I used to work work in corporate PR, in an office, and my idea of freedom was to be able to work when I wanted to work. I didn’t want to work 9 to 5 or all day every day. I really wanted to be able to do something that I really loved and I wanted to work with people who really lit me up, as opposed to just working with clients who were draining the life out of me. And gosh, I had my fair share of those in PR.
When it came to actually starting my business and running my business, I quickly realised that the picture of freedom that I had in my mind was most definitely not my reality. I was hustling around the clock for the wrong kind of clients.
To paint you a picture, I started my copywriting business because I loved serving and I loved working with women who were really purpose driven, and my background is in writing. So I thought, why not? Let’s combine these two things and create a copywriting business.
Then I started hustling, just reaching out in Facebook groups and putting myself out there, taking on clients for cheap, and figuring out who I liked working with and what I liked doing. At the start, I would do anything. I was writing bios and website pages and blog posts. I was doing all the things and for a moment I was happy to be a jack of all trades, until it became more overwhelming than fun. Maybe you’ve had a similar start in business as well, where you hustled to get things off the ground, but realised you don’t want to do all the things anymore.
I had the realisation that I could no longer keep creating custom proposals for every single person that crossed my path, and so I worked to identify who my ideal client was, and figure out exactly what kind of person I wanted to serve.
Instead of doing any and every kind of copywriting work for my clients, I choose the 1 to 2 services that I wanted to be known for. That was a huge part of establishing myself as an expert, as well as raising my prices to be properly paid for the work that I was doing. When it comes to pricing, I found it important to have a look around at what other experts were being paid in my industry, and this is something you might like to do as well. It’s great to have a benchmark when you’re starting out, creating demand sourcing your clients, and also ensures that you don’t over price yourself.
As for reducing my services, I meant that I didn’t have to be hustling all day, into the night and, during my weekends to complete work for my clients. Even though this was the goal I had been working towards, I still had, in the back of my mind, this feeling that I had to work all the time, otherwise I was going to lose money. And I also felt guilty for going out for a coffee or lunch with a friend and or not doing work for a couple of hours, because my husband was at work and I was out and about. I found it really hard to justify having these outings during the day, instead of working.
I think hustling and working non-stop (and I’m sure you’ll agree) is a generational mentality we’ve learnt from our parents. It’s the idea that we have to work really, really hard to make money and get ahead in life. And that a successful job should involve you sitting behind a desk from 9 to 5, five days a week, putting in so much hard work. That has been such a tough mindset and way of thinking for me to overcome.
But at the beginning of this year, I went to a three day business retreat with some amazing ladies, and we did this cool activity. The circle of life. We looked at the different areas of our lives and rated them from 1 to 10 in regards to how satisfied we were with these areas. We scored our relationships, career and even how much fun we were having in our life. And for me, my lowest score was having fun, which was such a big wake up call for me. It made me realise that I wasn’t allowing myself to have fun on the weekends and do things for me, because I felt like I should be working instead.
So this year, in 2021, I’ve been on this journey of exploring how I can add more fun into my life, but also how I can create a schedule that supports the life that I want. Now you don’t want these schedules to be set in stone because they can change depending on what season you’re in, but it is definitely worthwhile looking into what your schedule might look like with prioritising the things you want to prioritise.
So I started off by figuring out exactly what the tasks were that I needed to complete daily, weekly or monthly. I wrote them all down and then categorised them. My friend Hannah Murphy actually has an amazing method for doing this. If you’d like to learn more about it, DM me @elise_hodge and I can send you her way.
But I started by categorising my tasks and quickly realised that I don’t need to be spending my whole Monday through Friday doing these tasks. I could actually put them into two and a half days each week! That blew my mind.
So I took my tasks and added them to my schedule on the days and times that I wanted to complete them. I decided that I would have every Monday morning off and scheduled other times throughout the week where I would allow myself to do fun things or do nothing at all or dream or just have space.
I didn’t want to just get up, do the same routine and sit at my laptop all day. Because the truth is, I can make my work like fill all of the hours, but I also can get my work done really efficiently. So I thought, why don’t I schedule less time for my tasks and allow myself time to say yes to doing fun things as well.
I know it can be tricky as a business owner to not spend all of your time working because we love what we do. We love the hustle of creating something and selling things and building our businesses. But it’s so important to remind ourselves that we can do all these things without reaching burn out. I had hit burn out so many times before I realised I had to stop just saying, “Oh, I’m going to close my laptop and 5pm everyday”. I needed to be more intentional than that.
I needed to starting scheduling time for fun things and saying yes to actually doing them. For example, on a beautiful summer’s day the other week, a friend messaged me inviting me to go the beach for a few hours. And because I had created space in my schedule to do fun things, I was able to push my work tasks to the afternoon and go to the beach! Obviously, I couldn’t do that every single day, otherwise nothing would ever get done. But it was so freeing to say “yes” and know that my day doesn’t always have to be just about work.
Along with structuring my schedule, I also went through a process of streamlining my tasks and services. I didn’t want to be doing a thousand marketing tasks or having to post on Instagram every single day. Instead I’m very strategic with when and what I post, because I know exactly what I need to do to get the clients that I need and want. I’m not just doing tasks for the sake of doing tasks.
Plus I have worked to shift my mindset away from thinking that making more money equals hard work, because it doesn’t. I’ve got to tell you, last month I worked less in my business than I have in a long time, but made more money in my business than I have in a long time. And that’s because of the processes I’ve put in place for my recurring revenue, client days and project work, so that I don’t have to be working around the clock to get the transformation for my clients.
It’s important that I mention, that you can’t just reduce your work to say, 10 hours a week, without having strategies and processes in place to keep attracting your clients and actually doing your services in less time so that you can get paid.
Overall, it’s been an ever evolving process restructuring my schedule and services to support the lifestyle I want to live. But I’ve been dedicated to figuring out what works for me and what feels right for me. And I know that my schedule will change in the future, but I am determined now to always have my work schedule fit around other aspects of my life.
The main thing is to prioritise the things that are important to you. My business is so important to me, but so is my health and my energy and my relationships. And of course, there are times when you may have to give more attention to one area than the others, whether that’s for weeks or a longer period of time. But in general, I want to make sure that I’m able to prioritise other areas of my life that are important, so that my business isn’t just dominating my whole life.
And here’s your permission slip to reassess where you’re at with your business. How does your work currently fit into your life? What other aspects of your life are important to you? And what does freedom look like to you? Take the time to reassess your schedule, systems and services and then make the adjustments you need to so that you can build a business that ultimately supports the life you want to live.
Thanks for reading this post! I hope you found it valuable. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment down below and let me know what you found most helpful or surprising about building a business that supports your life!
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