Does being an entrepreneur mean working all hours? It’s easy to think that scaling a business requires a lot of hustling. But, personally, I’ve noticed something different in my own business. I’ve always worked part-time hours since setting up on my own in 2015 when my first son was very young. But in 2017 I made the decision to scale my business right down. Of course, I had planned for a real drop in my income. Instead, I didn’t just have a consistent income every month, but by comparison, I made £10k more in 2017 than I did the previous year, even though I was working a fraction of the hours. What’s interesting is that I went from working an average of 30 hours a week in 2016 to working 6 hours a month for the majority of the year in 2017.
Why scale back?
Scaling back definitely sounds like the wrong direction to take your business in. But I had good reasons for doing it. I had a lot going on in my life outside of work, including having my second baby. Back then, I realised I didn’t want to take maternity leave, and if you’re interested in finding out more about my choice, I wrote an article for Thrive Global about it called ‘Why I Chose Not To Take Maternity Leave’. For me, it was important not to put my business ‘on hold’. And I really wanted to continue working with my clients, which is something I thoroughly enjoy. To my surprise, when I decided to scale down (instead of taking a break), I managed to grow my business and earn more money by working a lot less.
And this is how I did it.
1. Focus on one core goal
In 2017, I picked one core goal for the year, which was promoting and delivering my mastermind programme. I found that the impact of focusing on just that meant that I wasn’t distracted in the way I had been previously. And this had an amazing impact on my business. When I started out I was so enthusiastic about everything that I threw myself into everything 1,000%. Most entrepreneurs do the same – we swap 40 hours a week working for an employer for 100 hours a week working on our businesses!
Unfortunately, that means that if we’re not careful, we can get ourselves sucked into a pattern of really intensive overworking, which can easily lead to stress and burnout. It’s really important to remember that you’re a machine – you’re a person! When I made the decision to scale down, I knew I needed a bit more capacity for life outside of work. So in order to keep things manageable and to avoid feeling overstretched, I decided to focus on client coaching and to work with a very small number of clients.
2. Let go of ‘busy work’
I refer to ‘busy work’ as all the activities in your business that can make you feel really productive but that in reality aren’t moving your business forward in the most efficient way. Don’t get me wrong, when done intentionally, strategically, and in the right way for your business, things like content creation, social media, and email marketing can be very impactful. But I certainly see a lot of my clients falling into the trap of doing ‘busy work’ for the sake of it.
What I learnt when scaling down is that when creating content you should start with the products and services you have and create your content pointing towards these. Instead of having a scattergun approach to content creation, target your content around your offers. Point your potential customers or clients to your products and services and get people started on the path of working with you.
Similarly, when it comes to social media the temptation to try and be active on every single platform is high. It’s easy to become obsessed with the ‘number game’, but try to remember that you don’t get paid for collecting numbers of people to sit on your social media channels as followers!
And finally, with email marketing, if we’re not in a position to put out regular offers and sell to our list, then there’s no point in having one. The size of your list won’t make a difference if you don’t have the right people on it. Concentrate on finding the right people, not just any people. I make more money from my list now than I have ever done before, and yet my list hasn’t been this small for about three years!
3. Set goals for your business (and stick to them)
I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s really important to decide what success looks like for you in your business. Are you after financial success? And if so, what does that look like? Or is it quality of life you’re after? Whatever your goals, be clear on what the key drivers of your business are. Don’t let other people set the bar in terms of what you should be doing. Also, once you’re clear on your goals, don’t allow yourself to get distracted. If something isn’t in line with the goals you’ve set for your business, don’t do it. If you’ve been listening to my podcast, you’ll know that I talked about some of these issues in previous episodes. You may want to check out my episode How To Stay Focused As An Entrepreneur or How To Beat Shiny Object Syndrome.
4. Focus on the things that bring in money right now
The key for most entrepreneurs in terms of understanding how well we’re doing in our businesses is to look at whether we’re getting paid enough. And enough doesn’t necessarily mean you have to shoot for six figures (unless, of course, that is a key driver for you). What’s important is to focus on what you’re selling right now and doing the activities that will allow you to sell more of the same, rather than chasing after other ideas or projects.
As entrepreneurs, we constantly think of new things that we could do. But what I learnt is that you should allow yourself to add your ideas to a list for the future while you focus on what generates revenue in your business right now. Remember that spending time on several unfinished projects won’t bring any money into your business. Not unless you complete them all! Only the things that we implement (that we finish and launch) have the potential to move us forward in our businesses, so focus on those. Don’t allow yourself to get to a point where you’re not selling, and you’re changing your mind (and changing track) all the time.
5. Run your business without fear
Something that happened for me when I scaled my business down is that I experienced what it would be like if I didn’t have any fear in my business. For example, I’m not super-comfortable with visibility. For the first few years of my business, I was terrified of being seen. But with so much going on outside of work in 2016 and 2017, I realised that emotionally I was at capacity. And in a way that was freeing. I just didn’t have the energy to care about what might happen if things went slightly wrong in my business. So I stopped second-guessing myself and holding myself back. I just got out there, learnt, and took action.
As entrepreneurs, our mindset can be one of the biggest thing holding us back! Of course, trying something and failing isn’t a nice feeling, but part of being your own boss means you have to be willing to jump in and give it your best shot.
Something my husband often says to me is that you either succeed or you’ll learn. And it’s true. You’ll notice that most things don’t fail twice. If you learnt your lessons the first time, then you can do so much better the second time. But if you’re never willing to let yourself make those mistakes at all, then you can’t move forward. Content creation, social media, and list building can really work for our businesses, but if we choose to hide behind these activities, then we’re not running our businesses without fear.
6. Be yourself
Being myself is the most straight-forward way to do well in your business. When you’re not enjoying something, when you’re doing things that you’d rather not be doing and out of authenticity, I think it shows. You’ll hear this piece of advice everywhere – be yourself. But it really took me a while to accept this in my business. Make it your job to do your business your own way – to be yourself and to focus on the things that are unique to you and that only you can do. When you find what you really love and lights you up, you get to communicate with your audience in a way that feels authentic to you and also really works for them. Combine all that with a strategy for your content which points towards your goals, and you’ll start to see big shifts in your business.
Would you like some help with your business?
If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed in your business, worrying that you’re putting in too many hours and not seeing the results you’d like to see, I hope I proved to you that there is another way to do things. The whole point of being an entrepreneur is that you get to build a business on your terms. Around your strengths. And then you go and find people who can help you with your development areas, because we all have some. If you’d like to talk more about the ways I can help you to find a strategy that will allow you to work more efficiently on your business, get in touch.