Traditionally, when people talk about business growth the same old topics come up:
More money. More sales. More profit.
But what if business growth looks different for you?
I was recently having a chat with someone about how my business feels so much more “grown up” now than it did just a few years back, and how I feel much more organised and profitable.
As we chatted, I realised my business had really grown. I had grown. My business was........ wait for it...
.... A success!
Maybe not by your standards if your standards mean turning over millions each year, which is a perfectly reasonable goal – for some people.
And this for me was a pivotal moment.
I realised my business is experiencing growth. But not necessarily in terms of more money (although my income has increased slightly year on year).
I now have 100% ‘ideal clients'
To be fair, I have always had lovely clients (apart from the one that didn’t pay me for 6 months and the one that was so rude to me I questioned my whole existence).
But now I have a client base that offers me the perfect mix of work in terms of creativity, work load, and all at the right rate of pay (which is 3 times the rate I was charging a few years back – I cringe when I remember what I was charging for some projects back in 2013 when I first started my business! But that’s okay as it was all a learning curve and gave me lots of opportunities for development).
I have the right paperwork
I now have proper policies, agreements, and "important paperwork"! I also have dozens of templates – all of which help me work more efficiently and also help with building the right relationship with clients.
My agreements are basic but do the job – I don’t make clients sign for fixed terms. But I do ask clients to sign an agreement which outlines my rates, my turnaround times, and where and when I work.
I enjoy a better work life balance
Over the years I have tried and tested a gazillion routines and structures to my week! Which days and times to work versus do personal stuff.
Should I work three full days or five half-ish days? If the kids have an activity after school should I reply to emails while there or wait until I get home? And, perhaps most crucial of all, when can I find time to just relax or daydream?
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have said “Just 5 more minutes” to my kids when they wanted my attention or worked on a public holiday when I wanted to be with my kids and hubby.
I reached a point where I said, “No more”.
Of course, I will work out of hours for a valued client from time to time. But I am clear that it is not to be expected. Clear with clients – and clear with myself.
I’ve kicked decision fatigue to the curb
The term “decision fatigue” was first coined by social psychologist Dr. Roy F. Baumeister, based on the Freudian hypothesis of ego depletion. This type of fatigue leads to 1 of 2 outcomes: risky decision-making or decision avoidance.
You may not even be aware you are fatigued as it might not be as obvious as physical fatigue. I know it crept up on me slowly but then hit me with full force. Therefore, I try to avoid fatigue simply by having some strategies in place:
I’ve already mentioned my templates and policies etc - they are just the start of reducing decision fatigue. These templates and agreements also save me time formatting documents and adding in the stuff that is the same for all. Not to mention no more agonising over what to charge. I have my set fees and packages for services, and this gets slotted into the proposal.
I also make sure I have healthy, easy meals and snacks on hand, so I am not spending time trying to decide what to eat (and I ensure there is wine chilling in the fridge!!!) I decide the night before what I am going to wear the next day (and stick to a handful of smart/casual outfits on rotation).
I have set days for getting in a gym workout or doing personal or family errands. I also have set times that I put on the washing or reply to non-essential messages.
And there you have it! My business is growing in more ways than increased income. I feel successful because I have built a business that suits ME! Great clients, interesting work, a balanced work load, and clear processes.
What does business success mean to you?