Challenge: Throw out the norm and build a business around your life
Today I’m going to give you a little challenge friend. A challenge that if you take it up, I think you’re going to be very grateful you did!
I’m talking about your business model!
Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to start going on about boring stuffy business topics like in a MBA lecture.
Fact: When I built my business model, I didn’t even really know it was called a ‘business model.’ I just was thinking about how I wanted to run my business.
Other fun fact: I went years without writing a business plan until it was a requirement for the visa application I was doing to get a work permit in Germany. Since writing my business plan and handing it in to get my visa, I’ve looked at it a grand total of 0 times.
So if you’re unfamiliar with the terms business model, just think ‘the way you run your business,’ and it’s pretty much the same thing.
Okay, so I know a bunch of y’all face some challenges in making your business work with your life— from a 9-5 job, to young children, to aging parents, to a health problem of some sort.
I know because you told me in my most recent survey!
(And I so dearly thank you for taking the time to complete it so that I can understand the challenges you face and share content to help you right where you’re at!)
While I know you’re sitting there thinking of how your specific challenge limits you in your business, I want to challenge you to get creative and maybe come up with a business model that fits your lifestyle better.
Challenges force us to get creative and creativity leads to some pretty great thing, so I’m super stoked to hear what you come up with!
I’m going to give you an example from my industry, website design.
The norm in website design is to build websites for a few clients simultaneously over a span of 4-6 weeks, and this often gets dragged out longer.
But maybe because of your 9-5, you’re worried about not having enough time to complete those sites on time. Maybe your 9-5 has busy seasons or you’re needed past regular hours here and there, and you’re unsure if you can deliver your end of the bargain on time when your 9-5 cuts into your free time/business time.
If you have some sort of challenge facing you I want you to do this instead:
Throw the ‘norm’ in your industry out. Forget about it. Pretend it doesn’t exist.
Don’t beat yourself up about the fact that some challenge in your life stops you from doing things the normal way.
This is your business, friend, and no one dictates to you how things need to work! You get to make the rules.
(Getting to make the rules is one of the main advantages of running your own business - so you may as well make good use of that fact!)
So instead, get creative.
I’ve seen a lot of creative processes in the web design industry that are not the regular 4-6 week process with a few clients at a time.
I’ve seen web designers host in-person weekend web design workshops. That means the web designer works with a small group of clients at once to build websites over a Saturday and Sunday. If you have a 9-5 that tends to be more like an 8 - 7 and you think you won’t be able to complete those sites in the evenings, shorten the timeline and instead run your business with a weekend model.
Now, while this works for you, guess what, I can guarantee there’s clients out there who need a creative solution just like this!
Maybe your clients are also side hustling a business at the moment. Maybe their job has them traveling for work all the time during the week. Maybe they just left the website building thing to the last minute and need to get a site done over a few days instead of a few months! (This one is super common 😂.)
Again, if time is a constraint, instead of offering full website designs, offer to do one-on-one video screen-shared calls where you help people with an existing website to do whatever small tweaks they need.
There’s a massive number of requests that land in my inbox for small edits and help with little certain bits of websites as opposed to full site build projects. For my business model and life, these don’t fit into my calendar, but maybe that’s what you specialize in and become known for?!
In my business, a constraint (I admit - a real first world problem constraint) was the fact that I like to travel - a lot!
I never wanted to work on a client project while I was traveling because of the difficulty of finding good wifi and a quiet spot to work when on the road. So I really couldn’t have these drag-on projects that are normal in the web design world.
I wanted to book a client project to happen over a couple weeks, know with certainty that it would be done by the end date, and then head off to Italy the next week with no worries about client projects running late into my travel time.
To counter this challenge, I used a 2 week process in my business where I work with only one client at a time.
The 2 week process enabled me to book work to happen on certain weeks, and book a flight the day after the project was finished, knowing with confidence that I wouldn’t be needed by my clients after the work was completed.
The benefit to my clients was that I could guarantee them a launch date. That helped greatly with them having the confidence that their site would be completed before they headed to an important conference, before they started a large marketing campaign or before their business officially opened.
I also never kept clients on retainer. I know that for a lot of freelancers the idea of retainer clients is super appealing because it’s guaranteed money coming in down the road. But for me, that meant being on call all the time, and I wanted the freedom to be needed by no one when I head to Cuba which is known for exceptionally terrible internet access.
Again though, I made this a win-win for my clients. Instead of needing to call me up every time they needed something fixed on their site, I included a 1.5 hour lesson at the end of every web design project. I made sure my clients were well aware of how to make edits and updates on their site themselves, so they didn’t always need me.
That means my clients got a new skill easily handed right to them, a personalized training and the freedom to update and edit their site anytime.
They didn’t need to be paying me year-round, and I got the freedom to live my life the way I wanted it.
So, what I really want to say is, I want you to stop looking at your challenge as something negative.
Look at it as a fact of life and get creative with how you can build a business model around your life!
The point of running your own business is not to get stuck in another job that lacks flexibility to work with your life.
I challenge and encourage you to throw out the norm in your industry and try another method.
I’m very confident that you can come up with an idea of how to run a business that both serves your lifestyle and also is a win-win for your clients!