Hey there friends!
If you search the infinite number of blogs out there, almost every single one of them have an article with tips on being overwhelmed while running a small business. That is because, clearly, it is so hard! While the tips I will provide in this post can apply to any small business owner, I will mostly address women, specifically women with children, because that is how I can best relate.
Ladies, we all feel it…the weight of the world…it is a lot to bare at times. How often do we look at messy children, toys scattered every where, piles of laundry taller than Mount Everest, dirty dishes covering the kitchen counter, dinner needing to be cooked? Oh and don’t forget we need some time to teach our kids their ABC’s, please and thank you’s…how NOT to pee on the floor. We are literally housekeepers, referees, teachers, chefs, hair dressers, accountants…the list could go on. We also have to count the unexpected. We have to be prepared for accidents, tragedies, emergencies, big life changes….whatever else that is not expected in our “daily plan”. Helllloooooo??? Anyone out there with me??!! Meanwhile, our spouses carry the weight of the world in their own way. Going to work, making enough money to meet the budget, coming home to very active, messy, silly children….
It just seems that life is a never ending cycle of craziness…and if life gets ahead of us…we feel like it’s a continuous race to catch up with it.
ANNNND then we add our small business to the mix. Whoa. As if life wasn’t already hard enough. A lot of people ask…what are you thinking? Why are you adding that “unnecessary” stress to your already busy life? Well, there’s no telling what your reasons are. In my case, it is that I feel that I have found this sense of purpose; a way for me to reach people and leave a legacy that my children can be proud of. Some people need extra income to provide better lives for their families; to put their children in better schools, or to just have some extra money for life expenses like clothes and shoes. Whatever your reason is uuuuk sjdflsflskdgpweoglksalfkadgajelakhfklsdahglakwejltkalskdghlaewihlfkdkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk….oh…sorry…I just fell asleep cause I am too tired to even write this post. Seriously though. How on earth are we suppose to do this?
As I list all these struggles that a lot of mom bosses go through, I have to find the positives. The truth is, all these things that make life so hard is exactly what makes us so STRONG. These are the exact reasons that I KNOW we can do this. LOOK at what we accomplish on a daily basis. The most successful women we know had to become vulnerable before they could become successful. They were brave enough to put themselves in the midst of uncertainty and came out stronger than ever.
Running a business is not as simple as just picking a cute name and selling a product or service. It takes so much time, patience, persistency, and dedication. I don’t have tips on how to be a million dollar company over night…and truthfully, if you do, send those tips my way!
Let me just go ahead and put this out there. I don’t have all the answers and I am DEFINITELY not perfect. But as my business grows, I am learning a few things along the way to help me get ahead of this viscous life cycle and I would love to share these things with you!
CREATE A SCHEDULE:
Easier said that done, right?! I mean, we ALL do it…write down a schedule in our planners….ugh…the kids just spilled milk all over the carpet…wait…they spilled it on the bed TOO….seriously?! Um yea…that is how quickly those planner schedules go downhill. Really though. We need to do it…and STICK to it! Consistency is key, my friends. Create a routine! Be intentional. I recently listed specific business hours on all of my business listings and will eventually add it to my website. I have chosen to list myself as CLOSED on Saturdays and Sundays. Usually, I am shooting on Saturdays and Sundays allow me to have at least one uninterrupted day with my family and friends. I will respond to all emails and voicemails on Monday morning. During the week, I have set business hours; I will respond to all emails and phone calls promptly within those business hours. If you are anything like me, this goes against everything that I was taught. There are statistics that say a client is more likely to book with you or purchase your product if you respond as soon as your receive the email. And this may be true…but at what cost? Constantly telling your children “just hold on a minute” or watching your spouse picking up slack after coming home from work while you are glued to the phone or computer responding to emails and social media messages? The truth is, clients appreciate consistency and structure. If I get any requests over the weekend, I try to respond with a quick thank you and please allow me to get back to you on Monday morning. Most of my clients respect that I have value in time with my loved ones. In fact, it helps me relate to them on a more human level. We are humans guys…not robots. Creating a business schedule is totally OK….you can do it!
ASK FOR HELP:
Guys, seriously. I know we all want to be bionic and invincible and all…but the truth is…we NEED help…and we can’t be afraid to ask for it! There is no way we can give 100% to our kids, 100% to our spouses, AND 100% to our businesses at the exact same time. For example, I recently reached out on Facebook to hire someone to help with the housekeeping. That alone opens up SO much time for me so that when I am finished with my scheduled work time, I can focus on my children or cooking…or whatever else it may be. Not only do we need physical help…but mentally too! Get to know other local creatives! That has been such an encouragement for me…put yourself out there…you will be amazed at how many local business owners will welcome you with open arms and go through this journey with you! I am blessed to be surrounded by many kind souls in my area! Another thing to consider is that maybe you have a family member that would be willing to keep the children for just one day a week to allow you to focus on work without feeling like your kids are neglected. I know, the whole point of running your own business is to have flexibility to be able to spend more time with your family or doing what you love…right? But the reality is…our kids don’t want half of our attention…they want ALL of it. And don’t they deserve that from us? This is the time that we are making such an impact on these little minds…time with them is so important right now! Don’t miss out because you don’t want to ask for help. Consider it an investment into your business and into your loved ones’ futures!
YOUR SACRED SPACE:
Ya’ll. This has made such a difference for me! Get some personal space! It is so hard to work when you are sitting directly in front of the TV…or your kids who might be fighting…or whatever other distractions may arise. If you don’t have your own office space…just find a spot…your designated spot…even if it’s just working on your laptop in your bed…separate yourself. It really helps me to stay focused and I am able to actually cross things off the to do list rather than just spinning in circles all day!
FILL UP YOUR TOOL BOX:
Ok so this one is super important. It wasn’t until I took the time to really educate myself that my business really took off. Education allows confidence. Confidence saves hours of second guessing and frustration. I went from spending hours…days…weeks….on one session …to having the confidence to get it done within hours! It is possible guys…but you have to be willing to expand your knowledge. There are a lot of free resources out there (which I plan to share in future posts)…as well as paid resources. Before you go spitting out money and making an investment on equipment or presets and actions…you should take that money and budget for some paid education. It will drastically effect your workflow and your sanity!
KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS:
We all want a full schedule. But ya’ll, the truth is…our schedule is already so full. When I first started, I photographed any type of session whenever I could get it as long as I was getting paid. I needed the extra income! Listen…there are PLENTY of clients to go around guys. This isn’t a race…limit yourself and take what you can handle! Since then, I have discovered my value and found confidence in my art and created a consistent price sheet. I have chosen a specific area of photography that I want to specialize in and I have a limited number of sessions and weddings that I schedule in a year. I am making more money now, with these boundaries, than I ever did overworking myself for pennies. We also need to take into consideration the editing time for the sessions we take. A lot of times I would be caught scheduling several things right next to each other because it would only take up a few hours of my time…but reality is…now I have a bunch of unedited photos piled up and waiting for me. I have a photographer friend (Hannah Conner Photography -who I am very proud of, by the way)…who recently made the decision to start her photography business again after several years. She is married with 2 young children and decided to offer mini sessions one day a month. This allows her to build a following and generate income while still being very present in the lives of her family. Take the time to evaluate what your limits are. Some may be able to take on more than others, but this is not a competition. This is about what is best for you and your family. This is about living the rest of this life in happiness rather than stress.
I hope these tips have been helpful for even just one person today. This is definitely not a science…there is no “one right way”…but I hope someone can take from this and be encouraged to keep going. Structuring a business is hard…but totally possible!