5 ways I'm working smarter, not harder in my business this year
Last year it's safe to say I had gone pretty hard in the work department and slacked on the whole 'living' thing.
My boyfriend was also going through one of the hardest years of his job training, so our time spent together was mostly just sitting at our desks in our office. We spent SO much time in our office together working, a friend of ours met a girl who lives in the apartment across the road from us, who (awkwardly) can see into our office window. The girl asked 'oh, are your friends the couple who spends all their time working in their office together?'
(Clearly, we should put up curtains one day soon. 😂)
Because my boyfriend was always working, I felt in a way that I should be too. So we worked, and worked, and then went away for the weekend to the countryside and worked more. Our laptops were always with us.
I'm honestly thankful that my first year of business coincided with his most intense year of job training because it meant both of us were equally busy and neither of us was annoying the other to work less and spend more time together.
At the end of the year, however, he got his full-time job and I finished off my first year of business. We both decided this was NOT how we wanted to live our lives, and that we needed/wanted to change our work-life balance significantly.
Of course, just saying 'I'll work less,' isn't a very good game plan. I knew I needed to change some significant things in my business in order to give myself the freedom (read: real life) I wanted.
Here's the steps I took to work smarter, not harder in my business this year
1. Judging all business ideas against set criteria
I planned out my year this year, followed through for 4 months, then was literally bursting at the seams with ideas and wanted to change my plan for the rest of the year. Which was all good and well, except I had about 20 ideas, and not nearlyyyyy enough time to complete them this year.
So I decided what was important in my life and wrote out some questions by which I judged all the ideas.
There were some ideas I was truly SO excited for (hosting weekend website workshops in super cool cities around the world), but when put up against my criteria questions, they quickly eliminated themselves.
If you want to know my process and the questions I judged ideas against, I explain it all in this post. (Someone recently emailed me that this was one of their fav blog posts and it was massively helpful to them and their business decision-making, so if you haven't read it yet, go do so now!)
By judging my ideas against the criteria of what was really important in my life, I was able to sort my way through all the ideas and find the ones that would truly enable me to live more and work less.
2. Outsourcing the stuff I hate
At the end of 2017, I made a list of stuff I hate doing in my business. Up until that point I was doing all the things and there were definitely a few tasks I was so over doing that I just skipped them. Sometimes this really was fine and I skipped tasks without a care in the world, and 99% of the time, nothing terrible happened. But, other things I knew would be good for my business, but I just didn't want to do them.
Here's the list I wrote at the end of last year of the stuff I hate doing:
SEO keyword research
Tech stuff with webinars, creating ConvertKit forms, adding new pages for webinar subscriptions, sending out webinar replays, making webinar slides
Posting on Instagram & Instagram stories marketing things
Doing hourly work that wasn't web design
Dealing with my inbox
A friend and I had a conversation a few months ago about the resistance to outsourcing. He asked me what I make in an hour on average, and then asked how many tasks I'm doing that I hate and how much it would cost to likely get someone to do them for me. I started thinking through my list of stuff I hate.
Cleaning? Going rate in my city is €15/hr.
A lot of the business tasks on the list of stuff I hate would be $20-$30/hr tasks.
My friend challenged me to focus on the big picture, the tasks that paid well that only I could do, and outsource the rest.
Outsource I have - in both my life and business! Here's how:
Hiring a cleaner:
Straight up, I would be the world's worst housewife. I hate cleaning and the urge to cook something hits me about once every 3 months.
My boyfriend and I decided to split our house jobs to be that he cooks and I clean. And then I hired a cleaner. 😃 Our cleaning man comes once every other week and I swear a job that would take me an entire Saturday takes him 2 hours. The man is a cleaning machine and I could not be happier to hand him over money every week.
Hiring a VA:
I hired a VA last month and everything I just didn't want to do, I handed over to her. At first, I really had no idea how many hours I'd need her to work or what exactly I'd have her do. Now one month is over, I ended up paying $190 for her to do all the tasks I hate, and I consider that money very well spent!
The outsourcing bug is catching on. My boyfriend has seen how much I've been loving our cleaning man and VA and has gone from a complete skeptic to ordering Hello Fresh ($20 off your first Hello Fresh order here!) for the first time to make cooking easier on himself.
3. Productizing my service-based business
My service-based business process is so nailed down, it takes 0 thinking or organization to get set up for a new project. Here's some things I've done to streamline and systematize my service:
Booking consult calls are scheduled through Acuity - I don't send a single email to organize booking consultations
I have one package at one price, I don't create a custom package or proposal for each client
I use Hello Bonsai for my contracts, so they can be easily signed online. I duplicate an old contract, pop in the new details and it sends it off and then follows up with reminders. Same goes for invoices.
I have a Welcome Package that walks clients through everything they need to know to get started. I get almost no questions about preparing content, what happens next, when stuff is due, etc. because the Welcome package lays it all out
I have an Asana project that I use as a template to walk me through every step of the process for a project. I just duplicate it and rename it for a new client
Any Asana task that involves sending a client an email, within the task description I have a script which I copy & paste into my email. I tweak when necessary, but mostly it's all the same
Every project follows the same 2-week timeline
My ask for a testimonial is even automated to send as a follow-up email through Acuity a few days after our final lesson + launch call
My process is so nailed down, I don't think twice about what I'm doing on any day.
4. Passing off work that doesn't fit my one package
I get inquiries quite often for a bunch of random smaller website tasks which fall outside of my normal 2-week website service. I pass every single one of them off to other designers now.
The only random hourly work I do these days is for past clients, purely because I appreciate them booking a full project with me and want to help them out, not because this makes up any significant portion of my income.
5. Becoming an affiliate for products I believe in instead of creating them myself
I have been asked to create a ton of resources and courses on topics outside my wheelhouse. Every time I'm asked for something I get this feeling that if someone is asking I really should create it, but I've had to stop myself and really decide on where my energy is best placed and what I'm best able to teach and share.
There were a few products I was seriously considering creating this year and instead I opted for becoming an affiliate for a product from an entrepreneur or business I believed in.
I'm still able to share the products I love and act as a resource for you readers but not have to create these things myself. Win-Win!
So there we are, that's 5 ways I'm working smarter, not harder in my business this year!
I have truly noticed that in so many ways I've taken back my life and been able to actually create something that resembles a work-life balance in the past few months and I'm really truly so pleased about that.
So pleased, I want to continue down this path as much as I can. So I'd love to hear from you, have any ideas for me? Is there anything you've done to help you work smarter not harder in your business? I'm ALL ears! Leave me a comment.