When you begin to treat your business like a business, things start to shift. It’s really simple. If you’re still treating your business like a “hobby” or “side hustle” it will only ever be one of those things. Even if your business isn’t exactly where you want or need it to be today you can still treat it like it’s on its way to getting there. Just because your business hasn’t reached the figure you want it to (yet!) doesn’t mean you can’t treat it like it’s the next best thing since the dollar section at Target! Here are the ways we treat our jobs like the big biz they are.
- Write a business plan: it may seem pretentious, or as if you are trying to be something you aren’t ready to be, but it helps you get in the right mindset, create a clear guide for what you are going to sell and a system to make it happen – need help getting started, try the easiest business plan ever.
Create SMART goals: these allow you to hold yourself to something that is actually achievable! Plus who doesn’t love checking all these things off as DONE? If you’re not sure what a SMART goal is or how to make one, start with this exercise.
Have a designated workspace: it doesn’t matter if it’s a table in your living room corner or you take over the extra bedroom. You need a place to stay organized, spread out, and get to work.
Set office hours: this is a tremendous help for all those people in your life who think you can just chat all day. Set your hours and stick to them! Tell friends and family, add them to your email footer, and put them on your website. It’ll help you stay focused during work hours and “turn off” from work afterwards.
Have a separate bank account: how can you know what’s your business’ money if it’s mixed in with grocery trips? Plus, this helps the tax man and other legal stuff be legit and easy to organize.
Keep track of your expenses: do you know if you made more money last quarter than this quarter? What about comparing holiday seasons? You won’t be able to track this if you aren’t keeping track of your income + expenses. Whether you use the old fashioned pen and paper, digital spreadsheet, or a software application, you need to get it organized.
Utilize contracts: it is all too easy to get yourself in a pickle. If you are selling services, contracts can really save you time, headaches and money. It lays out the scope and protects you from client retaliation if something were to go south.
Send out invoices: this not only keeps billable clients organized but helps act as a receipt for both of your records.
Know your one sentence: I love Nikki Elledge Brown’s tips for this one. Know your sentence that describes what you do in a way that leads conversations.
Quit working for free: it’s time you get out of the “portfolio building” phase and put dollars in your bank for what you do.
Invest in yourself: need some mindset shifts, an accountability partner, or cheerleader? Consider hiring a business coach to help you stay on track.
Invest in your business: maybe there’s a book out there that can teach you selling strategies or an e-course that can teach you how to master MailChimp. Learning from the experts may costs money, but can save you loads of time and patience.
Talk about what you do: there’s no reason to hide what you do! Talk about it, shout it out, tell everyone, and be proud.
Have a beautiful (and functioning) digital storefront: there’s no magic level or certain amount you need to be selling or bringing in before you worry about your digital storefront (i.e. your website). The time is now.
Plan out your content: whether you write a blog or just have social media accounts, tailoring a plan not only will save you time, but give you a more holistic take on your messaging, focus and calls to action. Start tracking with this handy worksheet.
Measure your success: It’s hard to know where to spend your time if you don’t know what is working. Make sure to check your analytics to see what posts are most popular, where your traffic is coming from and what just isn’t working. You might be surprised about what you find.
Order business cards: you never know where or when you’ll run into a future client or customer, so be prepared!
Ask for help: we don’t expect you to be a pro at everything. Recognizing where you might need some extra help is key to moving forward. Consider hiring out things you don’t have time for or haven’t mastered.
Join a mastermind or networking group or creative club: having a support system can make all the difference! Find a group in your area to start connecting.
Change what isn’t working: is there a certain marketing strategy that costs big bucks but just doesn’t work for you? Cut it out. Being in business is all about learning from trial and error.
Give yourself a title: want to be called Boss Lady, Creative Director, CEO? Whatever makes you feel most legit, go for it.
Order merchandise: there’s nothing like seeing your logo on your notepad every day or on the mug you drink from. Once you see a part of your business in real life like that it changes things.
Pop up at must-attend events: be in your community. Snap amazing pictures and share your experience. People love connecting with people, so be a person and stop hiding behind what you sell.
Know when to turn away business: it seems goofy that you would ever turn away a paying client, but if they aren’t the right fit, going to cause too much of a headache, or it isn’t the work you love doing, it is ok to turn people away. We give you permission to say no.
- Grow a tribe: There is strength in numbers and people love being a part of something bigger than themselves. See how you can start connecting with your clients or customers on and off line. Grow a community. Want in on ours? Join our secret society here.
We realize that these steps are just tiny pieces of the gigantic puzzle that makes a small business successful. Sometimes before we can even begin to learn or implement things like contracts and business cards we’ve got to take it a few steps back a lay the foundation. We’ve created the best FREE tool for you to do this! We’d love to have you map it all out with the Easiest Business Plan Ever!!
Stop wasting time and turn your dream into a reality. Let’s turn your side hustle into a soul fulfilling, goal-crushing, freaking profitable creative business. We get it. You work all day and then you come home and you hustle even harder. Balancing essentially two full time jobs is not for everyone. Let’s make a plan, simplify and start earning what you are worth.