I run a successful business from home now, but things haven’t always been this way.
Intentionally Building and Branding Your Business for a Life by Design
Building a business can be tough. Building a business and balancing a family can be tougher.
Each day we list the things in our business and family lives that must be done. Then we proceed to juggle and balance the two throughout the day, only to eat, sleep and then repeat.
I love being a business owner and a mom. It got me thinking though.
How can I build the business I want and create the life I want? My answer is to be intentional.
One of the best things you can do for your family and business is to set some boundaries.
How do I do that you ask?
Check your phone and turn off notifications for things you don’t need. For me, once a month I go through the tiny computer that I carry with me (my cell phone) and double-check my notifications. There are few things that I need to have notifications on for. Constant pings from my phone can be a huge distraction. So I check to make sure they are in fact, turned off.
Set a time each day to check your email. Checking your email seems harmless enough. It only takes a few minutes and then you can focus on the important things.
According to the 2019 “Adobe Email Usage Study,” Americans check their work email (three-plus hours a day) and personal email (two-plus hours a day). This comes out to around five hours per day checking emails.
I’ll go on the conservative side here. Three hours checking email? That seems excessive to me. It was only a couple of minutes here and there, or at least that’s what I thought.
Set a time aside to check your email, or pick two times during the day to check your email. Put it in your email signature to expect a twenty-four hours turnaround in your response time. You can also set up an automatic response. I found one on this blog and included it below.
In an effort to increase productivity and efficiency I am beginning a new personal email policy. I’ve recently realized I spend more time shuffling through my inbox and less time focused on the task at hand. It has become an unnecessary distraction that ultimately creates longer lead times on my ever-growing ‘to-do list.
Going forward I will only be checking/responding to email at 11a and 4p on weekdays. I will try and respond to emails in a timely manner without neglecting the needs of our clients and brand identity.
If you need an immediate time-sensitive response… please don’t hesitate to call me. Phones are more fun anyway.
KROX & KBPA – Interactive Brand Manager
At what point in society did we decide that we had to check and respond to an email as soon as it graced our computer screens?
Yes, we need to be timely and professional. It is also okay to have a twenty-four-hour turnaround time. That said, there may occasionally be times when there is a sense of urgency, but surely not every email is that urgent.
Delegate tasks that you don’t enjoy
I love writing, but many people do not. Marketing is my jam. Not everyone knows or understands how to market themselves, so they hire me. Numbers for a long time were not my friend. So I hired a bookkeeper. I know what you are thinking. How do I know that you don’t like something?
Ask yourself if there is something that you have been putting off doing. You know, the thing that always gets put on the back burner, and it only gets done if there is a deadline, and then, it’s not even done to the best of your ability.
Those are things to delegate or outsource. As the CEO of your company, you make the decisions. That said, it is 100% ok to pass the activities that you don’t like doing to someone else.
You are not just giving them something you don’t like. You are trading what you don’t like doing for a more managerial role. They still report to you. You just don’t have to do the thing you don’t like doing.
The best part of the delegation, you avoid burnout sooner. I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I come across (including myself!) who keep doing a task they don’t enjoy to save capital, keep control, or because they simply haven’t taken the time to strategize around the task enough to delegate it.
Does that sound like you? Do you feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends? You’re certainly not alone. Shorten you’re to-do list and start making time for the parts of your business you enjoy again.
Carve out Time for the other things
I get it. Your business is your baby! You have built it through your blood, sweat, and tears and you will do whatever is necessary to see it grow and flourish.
Schedule time on your calendar for family and friends. Your kids are in fact, literally, your babies! They miss you when you work. Block some non-negotiable times in your calendar for family time, soccer games, Boy Scouts, whatever it is. Your littles will only be little for so long. Spend time with friends. Cultivate those relationships!
Self-care is necessary. What does self-care mean to you? Is it the bubble bath, hot stone massage, or being by roaring fire and reading a book? Is it taking the time to bathe, brush your teeth, or do your hair? I heard a quote once, “self-care is doing your hair”. That seems simple enough! Or maybe it is as simple as doing a load or two of laundry. Self-care helps us, business owners, to be at our best.
Take time to travel. One of the reasons people have a business is so they can be self-reliant and have the money to go, do and be. Where is that place that you want to visit? Even if it’s a year from now, put it on your calendar and start planning to go!
Intentional Ways to Create Systems
Personal branding should be about your values and how they align with your business. When you are intentional about the message that you want your personal brand to be, you free up the time you would have spent continuously rebranding yourself.
As you build your brand, create systems to help you consistently get tasks done. I know you have heard the term “Time is Money”. We definitely don’t like to waste money, so why aren’t we more protective of our time?
When you create systems, you begin to consistently and intentionally create ways to streamline tasks within your business. What is a system? A system is just a process, method, or procedure designed to achieve a specific result. So, you might have a system in place for taking out the garbage in your house, or maybe you have a system for paying your employees.
Another example of system creation is to create Standard Operating Procedures. One idea might be for you to create a standard operating procedure for how you create blocks of time on your calendar to batch tasks or block time on your calendar devoted to a particular client.
This seems like a pretty easy-to-do, right? In my work, I find that most entrepreneurs work backward by creating a business, then backtracking to put systems in place. It’s painful. Trust me, I’ve done it. 10/10 do not recommend it. There are a lot of tools out there. The more you understand your business, the more sure you can be that you can find the right tool to help you put practices into place.
Intentional Branding Within Your Business
Branding is so important. People want to know who the person is that they are doing business with. They want to believe they can follow your message that you put out to the world.
Your branding should reflect who you are, what your values are, and how it all aligns with your business.
One of my values is the importance of family. I show my kids (one is here and one is on the way!) so that people know that I am family-oriented. Most people I do business with know that I have children and that they are my light in the world. They help me to be the person I want to be, and the business owner that I need to be.
Branding can feel tricky, but it doesn’t have to be! Branding is really promoting yourself in a way that you want others to see you. Be genuine when you introduce yourself and interact online. When people google you, what do they see?
Google yourself and ask yourself “Does what I find online about me align with what I want my business to be represented as?” What is your focus? If you started as a VA but have since pivoted to bookkeeping do people still find you promoting yourself as a VA all over the internet?
What story are you trying to tell with your personal branding? Be consistent in the information that you are putting out online. You can also read more in my personal branding blog here.
Failure is a Learning Opportunity
One of my favorite quotes is from Disney’s Meet the Robinsons. Young Lewis is upset because another of his inventions failed to work and he is devastated. The family begins to cheer on his amazing failure, much to Lewis’s shock. At that moment, Lewis is told “From failures, you learn, from success…. Not so much.”
I love this because too many people see failure as permanent. As though once you fail, you are done. My friend, let me tell you, you are only done when you decide you are done.
We grow with change AND through our failures. We learn from our mistakes. We keep moving forward. It’s an evolution and a process, so find your tribe early and lean on them if you’re feeling a little defeated. Trust me, this happens to ALL business owners (whether they admit it outwardly or not). Successful business owners see failure as a personal development opportunity. They ask hard questions like “What went right?” and “What went wrong?” and “How do we make it better the next time?”
They don’t play the victim or complain and cry. They set a limit on how long they can be upset and they have their pity party (table for one, anyone?). Then they put on their big kid pants and move on and up!