How many years have you been in business? If you’re in the majority of my audience, it’s likely somewhere between 2 and 10 years, right? Did you know that according to Small Business Trends, 80% of businesses fail in the first 10 years? It’s easy to assume that it’s because they didn’t know what they were doing or weren’t making money. However, last year, I saw a handful of really successful solopreneurs shut down their businesses out of sheer exhaustion. And they’re not alone…
86% of entrepreneurs who’ve been in business 2-10 years are dealing with burnout. It’s also a commonly known fact that business owners face higher rates of depression than the general population.. This isn’t going to become a full blown mental health speech, but what I’m saying is…
If you’re feeling tired, burnt out, run down, exhausted, and want to change that moving forward, something’s gotta give. In my years of experience coaching entrepreneurs with the motto, “you can’t grow a business you love around a lifestyle you hate,” I’ve seen what works. So, if you’re ready to work on your business, not in it, here are my top three ways to work less as a creative entrepreneur (while getting more done).
Find a CRM for Creatives
And actually use it… I see it all the time! Entrepreneurs will pay for a CRM (customer management system) only to use it as a glorified inbox. They don’t benefit from the features that truly help save them time (such as templates, automations, etc.). If you’re going to spend your hard earned money, make it worth it.
My favorite CRM for photographers, designers, or really any other creative service business is HoneyBook! It’s what I use personally and believe in it so much, I became a HoneyBook Educator. If you want to read more about what you can do within that CRM, I have a short blog post that breaks it down!
Other business owners I know love Dubsado, but many of my clients switched to HoneyBook because it’s more intuitive, easier to use, and is a hell of a lot less intimidating! (And at the same time, gives them all the functions they need.)
TL;DR? It’s the cheapest, hardest working employee you’ll ever hire (if done right). You can save 50% off your first year of HoneyBook using my code (CREATIVEBUSINESSCOACH). This is a better discount than they offer directly! Full disclosure, I get a small kickback when you use my link, which helps support my business.
If you feel like you’re constantly working, but getting what feels like nothing done, this is the most important tip for you! You’re one person wearing 37 hats, which means you have a lot of different types of tasks to complete in a given week. The issue is that each time you shift from one type of task to the next, you’re losing 40% efficiency… adding literal days to your workload.
You want to know how to improve efficiency in a business without a team? Batching your weekly and monthly schedule is the way to do it. The premise is that you theme your days so you can stay in one zone of genius. For example, Mondays are for admin, Tuesdays are for writing content, Wednesdays are strictly for editing photos, etc.
Imagine how you’d feel if you didn’t have to jump from writing a quick Instagram caption in the morning to editing a few photos to responding to client emails to hopping on a consult call… Imagine if you had one primary focus each day. Sounds glorious, doesn’t it? If you want to learn how to batch work, read this blog!
This is the toughest for most people… especially people pleasers! As creatives, we pour our hearts into our work, so we want to be there for our clients. I’m not suggesting you change that. Incredible service is the foundation of any successful business. I’m simply here to remind you that if you burn yourself out in the process, you won’t be able to continue working with people you love.
Creating healthy boundaries starts with setting client expectations. Think about what you need to feel refreshed to serve them well. Maybe that’s nights and weekends away from work. Whatever the case is for you, tell your clients when and how they can reach you! (Pro Tip: Limit methods of contact so you don’t feel like someone is slipping through the cracks.)
On the other side of this is setting boundaries with yourself. No one was made to work 24/7. Even God set aside a day to rest to remind us of this! If you want specific examples, check out the “Set Boundaries” section of this blog post. There are tangible tips on setting app limits and being strategic about time away from the business. One of my absolute favorites is making sure my work area is separate from my chill area since my office is in my home. Psychologically, this helps me “leave” work at the end of the day and relax more in my main living space!
Your Business Needs You to Work Smarter
As someone who has been to burnout town and returned to tell the tale, I want you to take this seriously. If you feel like your to-dos are never ending and you’re working in your business so much you have no time to work ON it, something has got to give.
You can likely tell how seriously I take this by how many blogs I have written to support the idea of not letting your business take over your life. For a while, becoming wildly successful and giving everything I had to my clients was all I cared about. It wasn’t until a major wakeup call in my life that I realized life isn’t guaranteed.
Don’t wait until tomorrow to make changes. I know the thought of adding one more thing to your list can be overwhelming, but the difference between your normal tasks and these 3 ways to work less as a creative entrepreneur is that these will minimize future to-dos. If you feel like you need support and don’t want to go it alone, reach out. It’s literally what I’m here for.