Welcome back to our series of journal entries on work/life balance! The next big thing that I want to share with you guys is:
STEP THREE: OUTSOURCE!
Like I’ve said before, it takes a lot to be an entrepreneur. You call the shots, you answer the emails and write the blogs, and most business owners think they can do it all. The excitement of having a product/talent/blog/whatever that people are interested in and the intrigue of owning your own business, is enough for some people to lose sight of what being a boss actually is. The past few years there’s been this surge of makers, doers, movers and shakers: people quitting their cube jobs to work with their hands, curate those linen and silk things, and hand letter everything that moves - we’ve come to a time in our world where it’s accessible for pretty much anyone willing to put in the hours and shamelessly market themselves, to jump at being a small business owner. Shop local, buy small, support makers, freelancers and creators. But what we covet so much about that title of entrepreneur is, in most cases, looked at with rose colored glasses. And so, here’s what it really looks like:
TIRED. Over-worked. Under-paid.
A whopping 55% of small business owners work 50+ hours a week, with 10% working 70+ hours weekly and the majority working between 50-70. And forget taking a day off! Your time with friends and family is cut way down, and if you do have time away from work, you will most likely be thinking about those emails you have to write, the bills you have to pay, or that project you need to finish. Sound daunting? Well, I have a secret that I want to let you guys in on:
You don’t have to wear all of the hats!
Sure, you own the business, your talent/creations/products are what keep this thing afloat, but, think about what parts of your business don’t have to be run by you. Emails? Inventory/ordering supplies? Writing blogs? Editing photos? etc. What kind of money would you pay to have 15-20 hours of your time back?
This past February I had the opportunity to join in on a conference for small business owners in Sedona, Arizona, put on by Craft Culture Events. The final session at this conference, I had the pleasure of meeting and learning from Kym Ventola, a photographer and business coach in Arizona. Kym told us all about her story and how outsourcing changed her life and helped her with keeping a balance between her work and her family/life. 8 months ago, the thought of paying someone to help me around the office was a joke. I always thought there was no way I’d be able to afford it and I’m incredibly stubborn, so there was just no way anybody could do it better than me. Or so I thought. During Kym’s session, she had us fill out a sheet with a list of all the tasks within our businesses that we do and broke them down into two categories: what we love to do and what we have to do, but aren’t necessarily a big fan of doing. Here’s an example of what my list kind of looked like:
What I love to do:
-Draw, paint, design
-Write (some) blog posts
-Social media (mainly just instagram though)
What I’m not totally into:
-Writing up estimates and agreements
-Ordering supplies and tracking inventory for workshops
-Studio upkeep/making sure all things are filed, legal documents are squared away, etc.
Once I broke down my business and saw how much time I was spending on tasks that someone else could do just as good, if not better, I began to realize how much time and money I was wasting. Yes, you will be having to pay this person to do these things, but, with that extra 15-20 hours, why not take on an additional project per month and make up for that money, if not more?! Not only will this provide you with extra hours to accomplish more work, but it will give you back some time for a social life, which, we all know is crucial for our sanity.
Since hiring my first studio manager back in March, I’ve noticed a huge increase in my productivity and, when I used to spend close to 2 hours a day answering emails, I now barely spend any time in there. And that’s huge. For me, I knew I had to hire someone organized, someone who didn’t need much instruction but could just take charge, and someone who is decisive. Not only has this allowed me to have more time for the tasks I actually enjoy, but I’m able to focus more on each client and give them the full attention their project needs. This makes it easier for me to cut down on revisions and communicate more effectively, because I have more time to spend on their project and to really grasp what each job holds before I put pen to paper.
Yes, you will most likely still work late some nights (I just finished working on a project and am writing this post at 12:30am), and you will probably still check your emails while you’re out with friends, but you don’t have to wear all of the hats involved in your small but mighty business. If you do, you will be throwing time out the window. Also, I know when I’m overworked, I never feel like I’m able to be as creative or come up with problem solving ideas for projects. So, because I appreciate a good small business, I want you guys to think about outsourcing. If you’ve been struggling to get everything done and are still working past what’s normal and good, pay someone to give you that extra time back! So, go help boost the economy with your sole-proprietorship, make more spoons, plan more weddings, brand more things, do more of what you love!