Bold moves don’t always come as result of dramatic occurrences but can be born from a seemingly ordinary task. In my case, it was writing a single line of text in a blog post, combined with dozens of other small moments that have snowballed over time, all of which led me to make a significant change in business at the end of the week. Like any good shakeup, this one starts with a public admission: my name is Michelle, and I’m not a superhero.
Do you ever wonder what your fellow creative entrepreneurs are up to? In between the big wins, product launches, and collaborations are the small steps (some forward, some backward) that lead to those turning points. Here’s a transparent account of a week in the life of a gal in passionate pursuit of business growth, personal development and those magical milestones.
You can do anything, but not everything
Even though I’ve been running a business for almost seven years now, I have been resistant to hiring help. I fully recognize that this stubbornness doesn’t just plague me professionally, but also in my personal life. In a combination of not wanting to bother people by asking for help, and feeding my ego, I pretty much attempt to take on anything and everything, whether it’s building a website from scratch, or loading the dishwasher.
The only way to win
A majority of the time, I’m not the best person for the job I’m attempting to do. My all-time favorite business guru, Gary Vaynerchuk, teaches, preaches and lives by a powerful principle that I’ve been resistant to follow: if you want to win, do what you excel at, and nothing else. I may have experienced some successes in my time as a small business owner, but I know that I haven’t reached my potential— not even close.
Finding my ONE (two) thing(s)
All week, I kept thinking back to the portion of last week’s Mastermind meet-up, when we identified our greatest strengths, in efforts to best serve our audiences. It was then that I concluded that I’m really good at two things, and two things only: graphic design, and helping people believe that they have what it takes to make their dreams come true.
So why have I spent the last seven years struggling to learn new skills like writing, photography, video, social media, SEO, promotion, marketing, client management, customer management, course creation and website development (among others), when I already have an area of strength?
My lightbulb moment
As you’ll read below, I spent the majority of my week working on a blog post highlighting 20 tools I use to help run my creative business. I anticipated that the act of scrutinizing my finances would undoubtedly reveal that I’m spending too much money on services that I could just do myself. Ironically, things took a different turn.
I often say that when I dole out advice, more than half of the time, I’m the one who needs to hear it most. A single line in that blog post kept playing over and over in my head until it finally sunk in:
Just like I would never hire Josh (my accountant) to design a logo for me; you shouldn’t hire yourself to do a job that you’re not qualified to take on.
Hello, McFly! How was I expecting my business to thrive, when I had hired an unskilled staff (me) to fill so many crucial roles?
Here’s the story of how one (not so) little blog post became the push I needed to leap from an edge of something I’ve been standing on for so many years.
Monday, February 20th
So, remember how I ended last week’s entry by saying that I couldn’t wait for Monday so that I could put my newfound tactics into action? I forgot that it was a holiday and that Mr. MHD had off from work! Our days off with no plans have been few and far between, so I wasn’t about to spend the day holed up in my office when we could be enjoying it together. I did need to spend a couple working, just to get last week’s Diary post published, but once that done, it was beach + sunshine time!
Tuesday, February 21st
Back to work, and ready to be efficient, I started the day strong, prioritizing my most important tasks: working my Enchanting Mondays Library rehaul, writing another section of my 20 Tools for Creative Business Owners post, and completing a magazine section design for my freelance client.
If you’ve been reading these posts weekly, you’ve seen me mention this Enchanting Mondays Library project a bunch. If you’re unfamiliar with the Library itself, it’s a subscription site, which gives customers access to a database of inspirational art printables. I decided to expand the site by offering additional size options (currently, they only have access 5 x 7 files) along with the ability to print the artwork without my hashtag (for a higher cost).
So what have I been working on every day to bring these improvements to life? I’ve been resizing artwork. I’m shaking my head at myself as I write this because the task I chose to spend my time on is something that I could probably teach my cat to do.
A wiser move would have been to outsource that work, so I could focus my efforts on something more important, such as surveying my current customers to find out how I can make the Library better, and hiring the right web developers to implement those enhancements.
Wednesday, February 22nd
I had two blog posts scheduled to go live on Thursday; one was a free calendar printable for Elegance and Enchantment, the other was the 20 Tools for Creative Business Owners post that I had been working hard at for the past week.
I took advantage of the great morning light in my home studio to photograph the calendar card I was promoting in the post, along with photos for the next two months. It was a smart move to batch-process that photography, but it would have been smarter to hire someone to take pictures of all twelve calendar cards at the beginning of the year. If I had, I’d be fully equipped with professional looking photos, ready to use for blog posts and promos, rather than scrambling the day before.
The blog-writing process and email promotion were pretty easy since I was able to pick up and use the same format from February, but I still wasn’t left with much time to work on my other blog post at the end of the day. Additionally, I still had a bunch of other uncompleted tasks that I had been carrying over on my to-do list from last week (inbox zero, responding to reader comments, and sending tax stuff to my accountant, just to name a few).
Thursday, February 23rd
With the Calendar Blog Post out of the way, I thought for sure that I’d be able to wrap up the 20 Tools Blog Post. But in reviewing the last paragraph, I saw an opportunity to create something that I thought my readers could benefit from: a downloadable guide for expenses and business finances.
Even though it would mean postponing the publishing date, I knew it would be worth it, if it meant bringing more value to my audience. I spent the rest of the day crafting the guide and getting it designed, putting the finishing touches on it around 11 pm.
Friday, February 24th
Determined to get that post published, I dove in right away, ticking off the last tasks on my list: preparing the artwork and making a list of all my affiliate links (more items that could have been completed by somebody else).
By this point, I was getting impatient, reflecting on the hours I had poured into this post, with the finish line still lying ahead of me. My frustrations grew when I remembered that while I had been accepted into new affiliate programs (promoting products/services in the article), I still needed to fill out various forms and paperwork to access my affiliate links.
An hour later (insert annoyed face here), I was back on track. Even though Friday afternoon is one of the least effective times to schedule a blog post, this baby was going up!
I clicked the publish button, gave a celebratory “whoop,” sent an email to subscribers letting them know about the new post, and scheduled social media promotions. If you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, I hope that you’ll take a peek, even if out of curiosity, to see why this particular article took me so long.
If you’re a fellow solopreneur, you’ll know that there are much greater frustrating moments in running your business, than taking longer than expected to write a blog post. But for whatever reason, this is the project that propelled me to finally, FINALLY make a move I should have done so many years ago.
Almost as if I was taking a metaphorical deep breath, I went out for a walk, in preparation for what I planned to do next. When I got back, at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, I filled up four pages in my notebook with every task I planned to outsource.
The act of unloading all those responsibilities on paper, alone, left me feeling lighter, thinking clearer and feeling confident in this decision. While I know that this is just the first step in making a positive change in my business and that there will be growing pains ahead, I am excited by the brightness that lies ahead.
Lesson of the week:
Don’t try to do it all. Focus your efforts on growing and excelling in the areas in which you are already kicking butt, and leave the rest to the experts.
What I’m reading:
The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
What I’m watching:
Got caught up on my fave, The Ask Gary Vee Showwwwww
What I’m listening to:
Beyond the To-do List Podcast (recommended by my blogging bestie and productivity guru, Kalyn from Creative Savings Blog)
Also, this episode of The Goal Digger Podcast was instrumental in giving me the confidence I needed to make that list at the end of the week.
[…] more than to dive right into my hunt for a Virtual Assistant, I had a blog post to finish first. This one. Of all the Diary of a Creative Entrepreneur posts I’ve shared so far, it’s the one […]
BUT I wanna do it allllll! LOL. I’m having such a hard time delegating! But, I know I fall so far behind trying to do everything myself! And certain aspects could look much more professional if I’d let someone help. I just have to decide what aspects I’m ready to give up…
Thanks for all your encouragement!
Oh man, Cassie! I’m SO there with you. Since I wrote this post, I’ve outsourced quite a few more tasks, and I have to say, it does get easier to delegate, once you see it start to produce results. Thanks so much for reading, and hope that it will continue to encourage you!
I’m right there with you, Cassie! It’s a struggle, but necessary so we can do more of what we love most. 🙂