Does your creative business fit your life?
You have the opportunity to design a creative business that fits your life and allows you freedom and flexibility. But only if you plan it that way.
Failure to make a clear plan in the beginning that allows time and freedom to focus on your life’s priorities can lead to a business you resent.
Or maybe you love your business, but end up unhappy with your personal life. There’s just not enough time to do what you want outside of your work hours.
Signs that your business doesn’t fit your life:
You feel like you’re ALWAYS working and can’t get a break.
Clients are calling and emailing constantly.
You don’t enjoy your work.
You can’t keep up with everything and feel like you’re spread too thin.
You feel like you’re missing out on things you want to do, because you’re glued to your computer.
If any of these signs sound familiar, don’t worry! This is fixable.
You CAN create a schedule that works for you.
You CAN set boundaries with your clients.
You CAN fall back in love with your business.
You CAN do less without making less.
You CAN log out and get away from your computer.
Today I’m going to ask you a few questions that will help you decide if your creative business fits your life, or if you need to make some adjustments.
Q1: What do you want out of life?
To make your creative business fit your life, you need to be clear on what you want out of your life.
Bowever, most of us build creative businesses that feel more like a job than a way to support our lifestyles. We end up living life around our businesses, instead of fitting our business around the priorities we set for our lives.
Your creative business needs to accommodate the time and freedom to allow you to focus on these priorities. If it doesn’t, your creative business will always feel out of alignment.
Your priorities are personal, but some ideas include: family/friends, health, travel, creativity, and freedom.
What your priorities look like is also personal. If you choose family/friends, that might look like being able to stay home with your kids, caring for a family member, date nights with your significant other, or something entirely different!
Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself about what you want.
Write down your top three personal priorities. Get specific.
Q2: How does your current business conflict with your personal priorities?
Now, knowing your top three personal priorities, is there anything in your business that causes a major conflict?
If one of your priorities is to travel, does being on retainer with your clients prevent this?
If you want to spend more time with friends and family, do constant email notifications from clients keep you from being in the moment?
Does the constant feeling of being “on-call” stress you out and make you lose sleep, affecting your health?
Are you not making enough money to ever take time off?
Write down anything and everything in your business that’s conflicting with the life you want to be living.
Q3: How can you restructure your business to support the life you want?
Business re-structuring is scary.
And you might be saying to me, “I can’t restructure my business–I do web design/copywriting/whatever! Everything is one-on-one!”
That’s fine. But there’s always room for improvement. You can remove or revamp services that aren’t working for you.
Are your clients projects taking up too much time? If projects are dragging on forever, make note.
Could projects be trimmed to fit in a shorter timeframe? (Maybe a VIP day?)
Could you charge more so you’re being fairly compensated–and take on fewer projects giving you more free time?
Having strict timeframes for projects motivates clients and you to get work done. Charging more means you need to be providing premium service, but allows you to work with fewer clients and make the same, or even more money.
Are you being stretched too thin? If you’re offering too much you might feel like you’re unable to keep up.
Automate, outsource, or remove
You don’t have to do everything in your business.
By outsourcing, you can still offer clients the services, but you don’t have to provide them yourself. You can strike a deal with another entrepreneur so that you’re both fairly compensated and end up on top.
Removing products or services completely can be a great step in streamlining your business and focusing down. Spreading yourself too thin and trying to do everything hurts more than it helps.
Alternatively, could you add new products or services to take some pressure off? Adding a complementary offer can result in more income from a single client–reducing the number of new clients you need to sign, and freeing up more time in your calendar. (It’s much easier to sell to a past client than to a new one!)
Can you optimize your offers to give you more freedom? This might look like offering VIP days, streamlining your systems, or creating reusable and resellable components like templates or video tutorials. There are tons of ways you can optimize your offers and reduce the time it takes to deliver them!
Don’t worry about actually removing, adding, or optimizing products and services at this point, but list possible solutions.
How can you restructure your creative business to fit your life? Think of how you can automate, outsource, or remove offers and activities in your business.
Q4: How will this restructuring affect your business?
Everything has consequences. Some are good, some are bad. Some consequences might be bad for your business, but good for your life.
Removing products or services might leave a hole that needs to be filled. You can do this by referring or outsourcing services you no longer offer. But removing services might also help you focus on who you want to be working with and what you want to be known for. Having a clear focus is vital to having a successful business.
Adding products or services might fill a hole. Your clients will be thrilled that they’re able to come to you for more work, and you’ll get the benefits of additional income. But adding products or services can dilute your brand and focus if they’re not in line with your goals.
Optimizing your offers can allow you to find a “sweet spot” where you give clients what they need, while enjoying providing the service. But it can be hard to find the balance between giving clients what they need, and what we’re able to give.
We’re speculating at this point, but make your best-educated guess on how these changes will affect your business.
How will restructuring affect your business? Think of both the positive and negative effects restructuring may have.
Q5: How will this restructuring affect your life?
The whole point of this exercise is to create a business that has positive effects on our lives. How will the changes you came up with above help you live the life that you want?
Will any of the proposed changes end up hurting your life plans more than your business currently is? If yes, they’re not worth it.
Removing services can free up your time. You will have more mental space and less to worry about. But removing services that bring in good income might cause you more stress as you struggle to pay your bills.
Adding services can bring new outlets for creativity and income. Bringing in more money and allowing you to try new things. However, new services can also take up a lot of time and energy, leaving you none for your life.
Optimizing services to better fit around your life is a solid option. But again, the problem lies in finding the balance between giving clients what they want and what we are able to give.
We can’t know for sure until we try, but think through how each business change will impact your personal life.
How will restructuring your creative business affect your life? Think of both the positive and negative effects restructuring may have.
Running a creative business around life’s needs and wants can be hard. It’s not impossible. Take an honest look at what you want out of life, and what in your business is holding you back.
Being self-employed means you have the power to create the business and life you want. No one else does.
Through a lot of hard work, careful planning, and smart strategy, you’ll be able to make more money and take more time off.