Independence Day was this week in the US. While this is an American holiday, celebrating independence is something we all have in common. I can’t help but think about, and be grateful for, all of the freedoms we have the opportunity to experience.
As a small business owner and entrepreneur, freedom is at the top of most lists when asked why we chose to blaze our own trail. And rightly so. Fulfilling work is a worthy goal. For many of us, creating our own path is our preferred method.
Sometimes my choices haven’t felt much like freedom though. At one point I realized I had just created a job for myself and a structure that didn’t give me the freedom I wanted.
I had to make changes so that my work served the lifestyle I had dreamed of. I hope you are living life on your terms. Here are a few things that I had to evaluate that helped me develop a business model and schedule that provides me the freedom to be present for all parts of my life.
- What work was always on the to-do list and never seemed to get done? I realized that there were tasks that never made it to the top of the list. Some, because they were not important so I removed them. Others, I avoided because I didn’t like to do them, so they were delegated. The huge relief knowing they’ll get done was immediate. It made me wish I’d tackled my fear of delegation and done it much, much earlier.
- What did I enjoy doing most? Simple enough but many of my clients tell me the work they love gets pushed out by things that feels urgent. It’s a simple truth that when we enjoy doing something, the finished product is a bit shinier than when we are just checking things off of a list. Our creativity & energy is much higher. When I gave myself permission to sort tasks by “I love doing this” or “I’d rather be doing anything BUT this” or “Surely someone else could do this” more and more things began getting completed.
- What do you hate doing? This is a continuation of my last point. If writing or bookkeeping aren’t your thing it’s likely that taking on these tasks will take you longer, sap your energy and keep you from more meaningful work. It’s okay to admit that you aren’t good at everything. I delegate these things to people who enjoy doing them. It’s a true win/win. My tasks get done and they get to do work they enjoy.
- Do you track your time? This is something I resisted. It’s a game-changer though, so I am doing this on a more regular basis to take a true measure of where my time and energy is spent. We often underestimate how long it will take for routine tasks as well as time spent on Facebook, answering emails or uploading images to Instagram. Once you have accurate data about how long it takes for client work, or your creative process, or for routine tasks, you will be much better at setting up processes and methods to get more done in less time. Bonus! When you know how long it takes you to do specific tasks, you’ll know whether your pricing is profitable. i.e. You charged $500 for a specific job, if it takes you 20 hours to complete, making your pay $25/hr and that is before you deduct the resources you pay for to support the tasks it takes to complete it. That may or may not be aligned with what you want your hourly rate to be. At least you will know and then be able to adjust accordingly.
These are some of the things I have used that allowed me to celebrate with my family and do any work at all on Tuesday. No guilt. No stress. That’s real business independence to me!
Photo credit: Stephanie McCabe
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