A few years ago I felt the urge to simplify my life and my business. I wasn’t necessarily unhappy or going through some crazy midlife crisis, I just felt busy. Too busy. I was doing plenty, but I wasn’t doing the things that I liked to do. It seemed there were so many things that came up that were associated with all of the activities I was a part of that took so much of my extra time. I felt completely overwhelmed with my business too. I was doing work I didn’t like doing. I had again, been spread too thin. Between my life and my business, nothing was getting all of the attention it needed. It was time for a change, a big change.
Now, I’ve never been that big on New Years Resolutions, because I believe they are inherently flawed. When people make these commitments at the beginning of the year, they typically try to create new habits, without removing old ones. We see this all the time in our personal lives, for example, “I will start eating better and work out more.” This all sounds great, but we are so busy in our lives, we have to remove things we are doing to make room for new things. This is the flaw. A lot of us, don’t remove people and things from our lives, because it’s hard to do. Adding things to your life is much easier and a lot more fun. This is why people fail.
I started with a list. This wasn’t an ordinary list. This was a simple list of things I liked to do in my personal life and for my business. That’s it. For example, in my personal life, I like to spend time with my family, ride my mountain bike, go for a run and work in my garden, just to name a few. At the time, in my business, I wanted to build websites, create businesses, work with people, educate and blog more often. Anything that didn’t make the list, I stopped doing. In my personal life I stopped snowboarding and rock climbing, I just didn’t go enough and it was always an all day sucker, when I did those things. In my business life I stopped doing design and focused more on development. In addition, I decided to team up more with others on projects instead of doing everything myself. I also changed the type of projects I would work on and set minimums for the budgets of projects I was involved in as well. I was concerned about taking such a drastic approach to my business, but surprisingly, I saw immediate results.
Doing less and getting more
One of the first things I worried about when making the changes to my business was if my finances would suffer. It’s completely logical to assume that if you are doing less and have less to offer, you will make less money, right? Well, it seemed very real at the time, but I actually made more money. See, you will definitely do fewer projects, but you will make more money. It really came down to focus. For example, I was an okay designer. I knew that if I was going to charge more I was going to have to do better design. By seeking out great designers to work with, it also made me a better developer. Great designers challenge you and in turn, push you to deliver solutions, you may not have thought of yourself.
With better design and better development, my rates immediately went up. Though I wasn’t doing design anymore, I spent much more time creating eloquent solutions in development. Designers liked this and they also appreciated that I spent more time collaborating with them on solutions. From the beginning I made sure to work with designers discussing the strategy and what could and could not be done.
Everyone has worked with designers, project managers or other people to split the workload, so there is nothing new there. The point is to simplify. Give something up. Take something away. Narrow it down to your specialty. It’s incredible how motivating this experience can be.
5 steps to reinvent your business for 2015
- Be open to change. I’ve talked to a lot of people that want change in their business, but when it comes down to it, they just aren’t ready. I often tell people, “You’ll know when you are ready. When you are so sick of the way things are going that you just can’t stand it another day.”
- Take steps to prepare. We’re not creating magic here. This is not the law of attraction stuff. You have to be logical and practical. If you are going to make a significant change to how you make your money, be prepared for a ramp up period. Your business will take a financial hit, so plan in advance and set some money aside.
- Be realistic. Lofty goals are great, but what really happens is we start with a plan and then it evolves into something else. Usually, this is a good thing. Enjoy the small wins, learn from them and keep moving forward. I love happy accidents!
- Be decisive. Make a list of what you like and stick to it. You will be tempted to go back to what you were doing. Don’t. It’s like going back to an old job that you hated or dating an old girlfriend or boyfriend, thinking they’ve changed. The affects can be devastating. Making the commitment to create change is empowering and forces you to make things happen. The best part about being decisive is you will clearly see the things that aren’t working, so it’s easier to get them out of the way.
- Be patient. This will take more time than you think. Especially if you have to “Take steps to prepare.” Don’t worry, the process is great and extremely rewarding. With every change, you will see improvement. In your attitude, with your family, your coworkers and your clients. It really is like they say, “Like a heavy weight being lifted off your shoulders.”
We live in a niche world. People want your special skill and they are willing to pay for it. Figure out what you are good at and what motivates you and do that. Make 2015 the year where you changed your business to do the work you love and got paid for it.