April 2017

I Changed Everything In My Business + Here's What I've Learned

We’re rapidly approaching the 3-month mark of when I re-launched everything and changed my life and business big time. I don’t do income reports, mostly out of the complete lack of wanting to figure all that out and then convert it to percentages or whatever because I wouldn’t really share real numbers anyway, and so on… but I will say this, the last 3 months have been without a doubt the best of my business. Financially. Emotionally. Mentally. Everything-ly. It’s just seemed to ‘click’ in this magical way and I wanted to share some “aha!” moments that I’ve experienced with you.


IF YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT, TALK ABOUT IT

First things first: there aren’t any rules to this running your own business thing. There aren’t. Don’t let anyone tell you that you HAVE TO DO XYZ to make it or be successful. Don’t let anyone tell you have to talk or communicate or exist in some sort of perfect way to be ‘an expert’ and ‘gain authority.’

Do you know what an expert can do? Talk about things he or she is not an expert at and feel no worries or doubts about things they are good at. I’m serious! Ask someone you know who is really good at something – ask your plumber or your doctor if they are an expert at tax law, or baking apple pies, or knowing how to pull the next piece out of Jenga without toppling it over… chances are they will openly and willingly admit that they are, in fact, no expert at that.

So feel free, my friend, to admit that you might really suck at social media strategy (hey-ooo! Haven’t posted on Instagram in like 3-weeks OOPS), or can’t code a lick to save your life, or whatever. That doesn’t take away from what you do know and what you are good at. And even more, if you want to talk about something that you aren’t ‘an expert’ about – you’re also allowed to do that. People learn from other people’s experiences, too. So talk about whatever the hell it is you want to talk about, I give you permission. Stop being scared of not having enough clients or not having made 6-figures yet or whatever it is that is holding you back.

"There's no absolute path to success, so don't let anyone tell you that you HAVE to do something." [tweet that!]


IF YOU WANT TO SAY NO THANKS, SAY NO THANKS

Here’s a huge lesson I’ve taken in over the past few months. We are so, so, so totally allowed to say “no thank you” to things. We are our own bosses! If you don’t agree with a client or want to work with them, politely say so. If you don’t want to accept the guest blog post submission, or be featured on someone’s Instagram, or whatever it is that you feel you ‘have to do’…  just politely decline.

I wrote a whole post about sticking up for yourself (and setting boundaries) that circulates around this topic and it got some great responses, which I was flattered by. Kaitlyn in 2016 said yes to 100% of the opportunities, clients, and chances she was given. I figured out that webinars weren’t really my thing after like my 2nd webinar, but I kept doing them because people kept asking and I felt bad saying no. I’m not saying webinars are bad, but I am not great at them and kept knowingly wasting my time and energy and stressing myself out for no reason.

2017 Kaitlyn on the other hand? She says ‘thanks, but no’ a lot. In business and in life! And you know what? It feels GOOD to understand my goals, my needs, and myself well enough to know when something is not a good fit or going to benefit my audience or for me.


IF YOU WANT TO MAKE SOMETHING WORK, YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY WORK

I should probably make a really big blog post all about this point. I spent 2016 with a lot emotions, but one key part was this “why not me?” mentality. Why wasn’t my blog posts going viral? Why wasn’t I get featured on The Huffington Post? And so on. Turns out I wasn’t actually working that hard… so… maybe that’s ‘why not’.

So here’s the “AHA!” moment. Things like passive income and funnels and all of that sound so glamorous and amazing – but these things require you to actually DO work at some point. You can’t just post like 4 blog posts and expect the money to start rolling in and you to be spending your days on yacht making beaucoup bucks. I mean, Pinterest might tell you otherwise, but I think a lot of those people might be glamorizing their truths.

If you really want this business thing to work then you have to work. Period. It’s a job. It’s a business. Stop working from your bed (guilty), stop wearing the same pajamas as work clothes and then again as pajamas for a week straight (guilty), stop taking breaks to watch The Good Wife on Hulu (guilty), and stop blaming everyone else and/or the world for your career not taking off rapidly (guilty). Instead – DO THE WORK. My productivity skyrocketing seems awfully coincidental to my business success rising and the only real conclusion I can draw is that actually working brings in results.

"If you really want this business thing to work then you have to work." [tweet that!]


SUCCESS BREEDS MORE SUCCESS

On that note – embrace the good moments because that breeds more success. For me, when a client is really happy and satisfied and telling me that they are – I relish in that and it makes me want to work harder for them (which means they are more likely to refer me, and grow my business). Acknowledge your successes – get excited.

I’ve been working through a Manifesting course and I’ve taken the time to review my finances nearly every day since and also to track my income and you know what? My income has increased. Now I know there are many factors to that, but I do think there is something to be said about seeing my money, knowing what’s going on with it, and hearing the nice little ‘cha-ching’ noise the app makes whenever I input a new amount. It feels good to feel good, and I really like to embrace that feeling so that I work harder to have more of it.


SELF-CARE AND BOUNDARIES ARE ESSENTIAL

Your self-care routine might be different than mine, but mine involves taking time for yoga and working out, cooking (aka watching my partner cook) good dinners, and not working on weekends (unless I really feel like it/want to). Implementing more time and energy towards making these things a habit has led to me feeling excited and rejuvenated and well-rounded. Mondays are seriously my most productive day and I can almost guarantee it comes from the break I give myself during the weekend.

I know a lot of us get caught up in thinking we have to do it all, then we get overwhelmed and run away and hide, and then we get mad that the world isn’t working out in our favor. Well, I feel you on all those thoughts – but here’s a big “AHA!” – do what you like to do and are good at, don’t overcommit or make yourself insane, and give yourself a break. You don’t have to make 6 figures in one launch two weeks after you start your business. I promise you, it’ll be okay. That’s actually probably the biggest “AHA!” of them all – it’ll be okay.



I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!


Making More Time For Life Outside of Your Business

Last week we touched on a topic that was a personal to me, but I think important for other business owners to read about: setting boundaries and sticking up for yourself in your business. Building off that topic and idea, I wanted to move into how you can make time for your life and activities outside of your business (even if you feel like you are working 25/8).

This time last year I was at the beginning of a downward spiral business-wise and if I am being completely transparent with you, some of those feeling seep in from time to time – so I totally understand why last summer happened.

Here’s the thing – I am a summer lover to the extreme and living in Charleston fills my heart with joy. The days are already longer, warmer, and just calling me to be outside, be with friends, go on bike rides, lay out a the beach, etc.  Last year I let myself do that – and lost track of my business, put myself into stress mode, and ended up burning out because of weird schedules and making up for my summer fun. In an effort to avoid any of those sorts of mishaps from now on, I’ve made a lot of changes (which if you follow the blog, I’m sure you’ve gathered at this point).

But here we are, my favorite time of the year drawing close and days like today I find myself staring out the window and longing to be outside in the sun. But, luckily, this year I’ve got a few things as my disposal to make sure I don’t fall into the same traps as last year and still maintain my business WHILE having time for fun and a life.


AUTOMATE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

I know you hear this one a lot, but having things run smoothly with little to no effort is key for work/life balance. Invest in systems and/or people that can take things that you dislike, don’t have time for, or can’t do and free up your time to focus on your business (and have fun).

Hiring out a team is a super scary venture and I get how that can be something you want to put off. Even if you do decide that you’re not ready for a team, you can still save yourself hours by investing in software or programs that take work off your plate. My favorites are SmarterQueue and Tailwind – between the two of those most of my social media is taken care of.

You can also automate things like auto-responder emails that help you feel less anxious about needing to answer an email immediately. Something that ends up being a big distraction to me is getting an email with a quick ask (something that will take me less than 15 minutes) so I stop and do it really quick. Though it seems like a quick and innocent action, it reality that sort of multitasking actually throws a wrench in my overall productivity – so instead of sitting and having my inbox in my face all day, auto-responders can alleviate that feeling of needing to check it constantly.

Similarly, it helps me not feel anxious when I do get an email to my phone while I am not working. I still might peruse the subject and sender, but I don’t feel like I need to stop what I am doing (i.e. something not work related) to answer right away.


WORK AHEAD WHEN THE OPTION PRESENTS ITSELF

This is something that I love to do. I do keep a pretty regimented schedule of what I am accessible to clients, but I don’t mind sometimes working into the evenings if I feel particularly motivated. My partner has a sporadic schedule sometimes, and most of my 9-5er friends aren’t super active during the week, so on a Tuesday night you might find me parked in front of a Tiny House Hunters marathon or you might find me working ahead.

What do I mean working ahead? Well, I make a weekly to do list on Monday and then each morning sit and pull the top 3 tasks from it that I want to work on that day. But sometimes, if I decide I feel like working, I’ll go ahead and knock some more things off that to do list.

I’ll be honest, it’s always the most fun things I decide to work on – making cute icons or creating a workbook – but regardless, it gets crossed off the to do list and opens up more time later in the week for me to relax, take a half day, or just feel less stressed.

So I know the point of this post was making time for your life, and you’re probably thinking “wow, working at night, what a life” but for me it clears up more time so that when there’s something I really want to do (go on the boat, etc.) I have already created space in my schedule for it!


SCHEDULE DAYS OFF, HALF DAYS, OR SUMMER FRIDAYS

Another important thing I do is actually pre-schedule days I will take off or take a half-day. Maybe I know that the weather is going to be perfect and my boyfriend is going to have the afternoon open on a Thursday, so I’ll schedule a half day that day and make sure I get my work done accordingly around that.

I guess this exists in a traditional 9-5, so I’m just carrying over habits, but it’s a lot easier because no one is really going to be able to tell you “no” right?! I also have toyed with the idea of scheduling Summer Fridays this year, and stopping working around noon or 1pm on Fridays. I haven’t fully decided, but I think that’s an idea worth exploring. I know a lot of larger businesses do that and I think establishing myself as that type of business owner early on is a great idea.


DON’T OVERCOMMIT

The biggest favor you can do yourself is not overcommitting you time. This is hard, especially when you start getting lots of inquiries and clients. It’s such an exciting feeling – but you have to be realistic with what you can actually do and accomplish. When I started really getting a lot of clients over the past few months, I had to stop and decide just how many hours a week was I a) willing to work on client work and b) actually able to work on client work. I landed around 25 hours/week of client work would be my maximum and have worked hard to keep it around that figure.

Overcommitting is easy to do – you don’t want to disappoint people, the money seems great, etc. But what will happen, in reality, is that your work will suffer and clients wont have as good of experiences, which overall will be much worse for your business. If you haven’t already worked out exactly how many clients you can take on (or how many hours of work you can do), I highly recommend doing that math.

"Overcommitting yourself is a slippery slope - be honest with how much you can do in a week." [tweet that!]

Overall, I’ll say that in my experience having a work/life balance is essential to not getting burned out – but focusing on the fact that regardless, the work needs to get done, is important too. I’ve been focusing on creating ways to make that happen that don’t feel like I am sacrificing “fun time” or “me time”  and that has seemed to work best so far!



creative entrepreneur

I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!