Hey! This post was originally on my old blog – I’ve brought it over and updated it with all the info I know now.
One of the “truths” we get told about running a business is that we have to hustle. We have to work long hours. We have to be stressed. I read at least a blog a day that says “If you’re just starting your business, you have to hustle. If you want clients, you have to hustle.”
Biz Confession: I don't hustle. Click To Tweet
Here’s a news flash: you do not need to sacrifice your everything to succeed in your business. You do not to have sleepless months, and become a hermit. You CAN grow the business you want without stress.
I started a new business in April of 2016 – and ended the month surpassing what I would have made working 40 hours a week at my last corporate job. From the one business. Not too shabby, eh?
My business mantra is ease. I don’t hustle.
I didn’t work 40 hours a week. I mostly worked four day weeks. I worked (and still do!) around my baby’s nap schedule (he would only nap on either myself or Mr. KJ at that time- but mostly me). Which means the hours from whenever he wakes up in the morning to 1 or 2pm were mostly unusable. (They still often are!)
Keep in mind that the rest of the day includes another nap, and dinner. There’s not but SO much work time.
Sure, I can respond to emails or write blog posts on my phone…but depending how long his naps are, I might be sleeping myself. A girl can only survive on four hours of nightly sleep for so long after all.
How did I do it?
I got really clear on how I wanted (okay, needed) my days to work.
Post Baby S, I decided to work part time at the marketing agency I’d been at before, while gradually growing my own business. I knew I would need time to figure out what I needed. And good thing, because I was wrong about everything.
At the end of March, my safety net vanished. The Universe called my bluff – the agency closed.
I had friends tell me I owed it to my son to find another 20-40 hour job, save up lots of money, and then return to my business someday.
In the best words of Hannah Montana, “BFF, Say whaaaaat?”
I don’t think so. Screw that approach. I don’t choose to make my life decisions out of fear or lack.
If we’re going to talk honestly, working for someone else wasn’t working for me – and putting Baby in daycare wasn’t a compromise I was going to make. The best answer – understand and get clear on what I need so I could create it.
- Flexible hours
- To be unavailable during naptimes
- To be available for my son
- Minimal emergencies
- Minimal phone calls because have you ever tried to plan what time your baby is going to wake up a week for now and what time his naps will be?
- To work less than 20 hours a week, ideally
- To be enjoyable
I measured my skill sets.
Striking out on my own meant a fresh start. The chance to use my skills + focus on what I really enjoy doing. And even better, the projects that I can fit into my crazy schedule.
I understood that perfection comes with time – it’s better to get something done than nothing.Perfection comes with time - it's better to get something done than nothing.Click To Tweet
Was it perfect? Ha! No. Farrrrrr from it. Few strategies are 100% perfect to begin with. It’s the reason why in marketing we run A/B tests.
I made mistakes – and that’s okay.Mistakes help you fine tune your business.Click To Tweet
I’ve given clients too many options. One contract was ridiculously underpriced after some changes were made. One client didn’t have firm enough boundaries. I didn’t have clauses in my contracts about late fees. And, gasp – some clients didn’t even get official contracts… just quotes that they signed. Live and learn.
All of these things are okay. Each one is fixable – though perhaps not instantly.
The best part was those lessons helped me shape Starlit Strategies into what is *really* right for me. There’s still some shifting as I grow – both spiritually and business wise – but that’s entirely normal.
How can you create the business you want?
Get clear on how your day needs to run + how you’d like it to run.
If you want to work four day weeks, then you need to be making enough profit during those four days. If you don’t want phone calls, your services need to be clear enough to not require check-ins.
If you haven’t read Denise DT’s Lucky Bitch, that is a great resource for getting clear on what you want.
Know who you’re working with.
Dream clients, yo. They always matter.
Who you’re working with affects everything. The services or products you offer. The tone you write your pages in.
Quick: describe who you’re working with in three sentences or less. You can fine tune this after you hash out your best services some – but there has to be a foundation.
In my case, I knew I was working with marketing agencies, primarily to work on their client’s marketing. Most marketing agencies neglect their own marketing so I was also willing to work on that.
Know what you’re good at.
Run through a giant list of what you are especially good at.
My list began something like this:
- Inbound marketing
- Business strategy
- Social media strategy
- Crafting dream client buyer personas
- Creating editorial calendars
- Sales page + optin landing page copywriting
- Other copywriting
Got your list? Cross out anything you don’t enjoy doing.
Then cross out anything that doesn’t fit into how you want or need your days to look like. In my case, I initially crossed out business strategy – not because I don’t like doing it, but because providing strategy to a marketing agency would like mean I would need to do all the work or source it myself. I thought I would stick to strategy being solely for soulful entrepreneurs. Buttttt in my year audit I realized that the ONE strategy package I accepted was 25% of my income. That’s a lot, yo.
Can you narrow down?
100% of my clients right now are for social media audits and strategy. Something that surprised me a little – I don’t even offer this to creative entrepreneurs in solo packages! It’s something we do focus on in six month strategy sessions, but I’d never considered it as its own thing. Sometimes, no matter how well you know your clients, they will surprise you. Take note.
Get others to spread the word.
Admittedly I carried over a couple of clients so I started out with a small cushion.
However, 100% of my clients have come from word of mouth.
I haven’t needed to start marketing myself – and I may not, unless I start to create products. Which is exactly what I wanted – the freedom to create THIS business as I want it, not to feel constrained by serving two types of clients.
So, are you letting people praise you? Letting them recommend your services? Are you telling people what you do or trying to keep it hush hush from particular crowds who won’t get it? It’s time to give that up – you’re only limiting yourself.
I set strong intentions – and updated them each and every month.
Since I started so suddenly, the biggest thing I did to get clients (and the right clients!) was to set really strong intentions. I also set intentions on how much I wanted to earn.The most successful thing I did to get clients was to set really strong intentions.Click To Tweet
As I updated my intentions, clients who didn’t match would flow out and better fits would flow in.
Here’s what you need to grow your own business:
- Start before you’re ready.
- Know what lifestyle you want your business to support.
- Choose the projects and services that are both rewarding financially and in your wheelhouse.
- Know your target audience and what problems they need fixing.
- Get a team of people to support you and praise you.
- Set your intentions
You don’t have to hustle to succeed – you just need the right business strategy.