Are You Operating As A Business, Or Do You Just Look Like One?
Be honest my fellow solopreneurs, how often has this happened to you:
You wake up early to get your workout in (sweet!), post on your social media channels, spend a few hours sending and reply to emails, make yourself a healthy lunch while scrolling + commenting through social media, film some content, write some content and *poof* it’s dinner time.
It felt like a productive day; you didn’t stop moving, you’re mentally tired, and Bachelor in Paradise in on later tonight, so you’re going to call it for the day.
But as you reflect back on your day you realize that you not only didn’t make a single penny today, but also you haven’t brought yourself any closer to launching that course or providing that free guide to your community. Growth wise, you are exactly where you were yesterday.
We’ve put such a connotation on being “busy” that many of us mistake our false productivity with moving our businesses forward. And in that same notion, we invest SO much time in channels that don’t always bring us the same returns (I’m looking RIGHT at you Instagram) but we believe that we need them to look a certain way to find that success. It’s a bit of a frustrating Catch-22.
I hear you and I feel you because I’ve lived it too.
We need to have a substantial social media following so that potential new clients will find us legitimate and want to invest in our products + services. So we spend hours upon hours posting, engaging, shooting content, writing captions all in the hopes that someone out there will identify with what we’re putting out.
We need our business to look aesthetically appealing, especially an online business, so that clients will be attracted to us, and also know that our attention to detail and ability to communicate is clear. So we spend hours working with a designer on our logos, and hire out web developers or buy templates to make our website look professional.
We need to network with like-minded individuals and potential clients to build our reputation, so we attend events, oftentimes midday during prime working hours.
Are all of these things important? YES! Of course they are. But are they more important than spending time focused on future product offerings, creating content that our ideal clients will actually see, read and connect with, or just plain working? Absolutely not.
If I’m being really honest here, I found myself in a similar rut earlier this year. I was so.freaking.omg.busy but I wasn’t necessarily bringing in more money or spending my hours building new products and offerings. I looked at days that I wasn’t directly generating cash and thought, what do I have to show?
With some serious reflection and work on myself, I shifted my mindset and started measuring each day based on the following:
I’m not getting out of bed unless I know I’m going to:
Make “x” amount of money each day, or
Get “x, y and z” done which will move the business forward because “____”
Being busy equals being tired, and I’d rather be well-rested than falsely productive. Because time is a non-renewable resource and I can always make more money.
Here’s how I now work some of the similar scenarios to ensure that I OPERATE as a business, and don’t just LOOK like one:
I calendar out my weekly social media (mostly Instagram) so that each day of the week is consistent month after month - blogs, spotlights, workout, fun posts, etc. It ensures that I am consistently showing up for my community, and also helps me on those days when I want to post but am stuck as to what to say.
File all branding - logo, colors, fonts, website, newsletter, blog - under the “outsource” tab and get those tasks off your plate ASAP, preferably in the hands of a smart, capable and affordable designer. Stop justifying you spending hours upon hours in Adobe or on Wordpress for a project you could hire out for with phrases like “I’m Type-A” or “I like to be in control” and instead say “I don’t value my time’s worth and would rather be busy than productive” or “I’m not clear in my vision so I’d rather get lost in this project than find clarity.”
Every month I try to attend at least one event that is out of my normal circle of friends and brands and meet new people. Sometimes it’s as simple as a small group workout, other times it’s heading to The Wing (an all-women coworking space) for their weekly lecture series. I say ‘no’ to 95% of free workouts, branded ‘wellness’ events or to restaurant openings largely because my ideal clients won’t be there.
It goes without saying that I run my business as the true corporation it is - I file annual compliance reports, pay my annual taxes, have a bookkeeper organize my finances to properly report income, and utilize a payroll processor to pay myself (for the love of god please NEVER just transfer money into your personal bank account). Don’t forget that if your business is held by an entity - and LLC or Corporation - that you need to be doing all of these things as well to avoid penalties and fines.
I hope this helps unsticks you from the cycle of unproductive business and moves your ball forward.