Today’s episode is going to be a little bit different because I’m getting personal with you. I’m going to talk about something that my husband said to me that sparked change within my business and how I’m now working less, but still getting more accomplished, how stepping away from your business can actually be a good thing, and the changes that I’m making within my business and how I’m making those changes.
My husband and I probably go around and around about health and fitness on a monthly basis because, one, we are both hard workers and we put a lot into your careers, and then secondly comes our family. Whenever that happens, what comes last is our health, and he gets really, I’d say, worried about me because I sit at my desk for eight hours a day. In the past two years of doing my business full-time, I have gained 30 pounds, and it has nothing to do with him being like, “Oh, my gosh. You’re getting overweight,” or anything like that, which is why being vulnerable like this, it makes me want to vomit, but it’s more so of, “Hey, we don’t want your health becoming at-risk. You sit eight hours a day. That’s worse than smoking. What can we do to change this?”
During that conversation, one conversation in particular, like I said, we go around and around about this, he said, “You have created your life around your business instead of your business around your life.” Whenever he said those words, I was like, “That one hurts,” but he was totally right. One of the many perks that I endlessly daydreamed about in my windowless cubicle when I worked at my corporate marketing job is having the freedom to create whatever schedule I wanted, whether that be taking an hour out of my day to go get my nails done, taking the day off and spending it with my daughter, whatever that looked like, I didn’t want to be chained to a desk four, five days a week. I wanted to be able to have that freedom.
Now, fast forward two years into having that freedom, and I had chained myself to my desk at home. I worked every day from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and then some days I wouldn’t even get up to each lunch. I’d just eat at my desk. Most importantly, I felt guilty anytime that I wasn’t sitting at my desk during those hours. As a result, my health had declined. My spark for my business was fading because I was doing it so much, and I didn’t give myself that freedom that I had worked so hard for.
Throughout this conversation I was having with my husband, I was like, “What are the things I need to change?” One, I had to grow a team because I needed somebody there whenever I couldn’t be. If I wanted to go on a trip, I couldn’t just shut my business down. I mean, I still had deadlines and clients, so I had to start growing my team. Something else that was kind of becoming a nonnegotiable is beginning to carve out 60 minutes a day to go to the gym, like no more excuses. My husband put it this way. He was like, “Whenever you take Caydence,” our daughter, “to daycare,” he was like, “you have to do that every morning. No matter what, she has to go to school, so that’s when there’s no excuses. She has to go.” He’s like, “The gym should be the same way. No excuses for us. It should be a nonnegotiable.”
Then lastly, even though I have full cooking capabilities and I work from home where I have a kitchen and a refrigerator, I still was not eating a cooked lunch every day, and if I was, most of the time, it was at my desk. I began growing a team, and I’ll dive a little bit more into that, and then I also implemented some different systems within my business that helped with productivity immensely. I’ll dive more into those products or applications, I don’t know, whatever you want to call them, more as well, but so far, I’m in the midst of making some of these changes. Some of them are not set in stone, but I think it’s good to talk about. Here we go. Let’s go ahead and dive right into these.
At the end of last year in 2018, my business was exploding. I was booked almost four months out in advance, and I was losing potential clients because either, A, their project couldn’t wait that long or, B, I just simply had to turn them down because I was so busy. That’s whenever I realized that I needed to start growing a team. What I did was I started taking inventory of what I could turn over to somebody else. I like to manage projects and be in my inbox, so I knew that I really didn’t need a virtual assistant in that aspect, but what I needed was somebody to help me take my visions and build them out into a website design or design the graphics.
In November of last year, I hired my design assistant, Katie. Let me tell you, she has been a lifesaver within my business. My family took a trip to San Antonio this week (as part of me breaking away from my desk). Even though I was out of the office, I still had somebody taking care of my client projects, and that was a really great feeling.
One of my friends and clients, Elizabeth Henson, she’s a photographer, and she has grown an impressive team underneath her as well. I’m her website guru, so I help with all the website projects. She also has a virtual assistant and associate photographers underneath her. Whenever I started on this journey of hiring at team, her advice really helped me. She said she usually hires people out of her community, people who are already familiar with her and her brand and her offerings, which I think is really great advice. I know for me, I searched for a design assistant for two months before I felt that I had found the right person. Sometimes, it just takes time in understanding exactly what you need to start growing a team.
Now, another thing that’s helped me step away is productivity applications. I use Trello for all of my client communication. Whenever somebody invests in the signature brand experience, they get a customized project Trello board. I’ve spent like the last year creating video tutorials for the board, setting up checklists for each week. Week one to week 12, there’s a checklist, so you know what I’m providing and you know what you need to provide, and it really helps clients communicate, and also their projects stay on track.
One of the issues I was having with projects is that they would fall behind schedule, and then I’d have new projects starting before the other projects, and it was causing a lot of work to stack up. Trello really helped me solve that problem within my business. It also elevated my clients’ experience as well. Just having that customized project board that they could keep track of took their experience to another level.
Now, I cannot remember where I heard this next one from, but ClickUp has been a serious game-changer for Carrylove Designs. Now, I use ClickUp for internal communication, so between me and my team members. We recently started using it I’d say probably within the last month, and I have not experienced smoother project management than with ClickUp.
Within ClickUp, I’ve created basically a template for all projects, so whenever a new project starts happening, I go through this template, fill it all out, and then I sign tasks to each person, create due dates for those projects. If you use Asana, it seriously blows Asana out of the water. ClickUp is one that I use for internal communication.
One fear a lot of people have before they step away from their business is the thought, “If I’m not there connecting with others, then how am I going to get leads? My business is going to die.” This is where your website and social media come into play. If you have a strategic website, then you’re marketing 24/7, no matter what. I’ve created a three-part website system that allows not only me, but my clients to get found in searches, and not only get found in searches, but also immediately connect them with their clients and have leads dropping into the inbox. The average conversion rate across all industries is roughly 2%. Last time I checked, my website was converting at nearly 8%, so even if I’m away from my desk, I still have a website that draws clients in for me.
Now, Instagram is another big referral source for my business. Even if I’m away from my desk, I really can’t drop the ball on Instagram. Now, I use Planoly to schedule out all of my posts for Instagram. You can also set your posts to auto-post, which basically means that they automatically post to Instagram with you having to do anything. Even if you’re away, you can still seem present within your business and still be connecting with your potential clients.
Now, implementing these tactics and apps inside my business have really been a game-changer. I mean, I was able to take two days away from my business and not get behind on work. In fact, I actually made like $800 and signed a new client while enjoying my time in San Antonio.
If you’re feeling burnt out, then take inventory of what your life is like right now and what do you want it to look like so that you can start creating your business around your life instead of your life around your business, and in turn, you won’t get bogged down and feel burnt out. You’ll have more creative space, and having more creative space leads to better projects, which leads to happier clients, so really, it’s a win-win all the way around. Hopefully, these applications and these tactics help you. You can go to the blog post, and I will link to each one of these that I mentioned so that you can start implementing them inside your business as well.