Creating Space in your Business to Avoid Burnout
Running your own solopreneur or small business is hard work. I’ll let you in on a little secret…we all struggle! I work with a lot of business owners, so I see all the overwhelm, anxiety and burnout. It happens to me, too…sometimes a LOT.
It’s ok if you burn out. Let it happen. Rest. Do something else. If you give yourself a break every once in awhile, you’ll have space to create new ideas. Burnout happens for a lot of reasons, such as doing too much of the same thing for too long. Your brain eventually recharges itself if you rest well, and then you’ll likely bounce back better than ever!
If burnout happens every week or two, it could be a sign that some bigger changes need to be made in your business. Maybe you need to stop offering a service or raise your prices to match your current skill level. Resting after a burnout will give you the opportunity to examine what needs to be changed. This is something I had to do recently.
You’ve heard of the 3 P’s of business? People, Process, and Product. There are actually many different “3 P’s” out there for different types of business and business development. I discovered that I have my own set of 3 P’s this year. Priorities, Pricing, and Projects.
Last Autumn I was in the midst of the biggest burnout I’d ever had in all my years as a freelancer and business owner. I would wake up in the morning dreading the work day ahead. It finally took a colleague, business mentor Sue Ellis-Saller, to really show me what the biggest culprit of my business burnout was…
I was spending way too much time losing revenue to too much busywork and not enough big work.
A year ago, and all years leading up to it, I was relying heavily on my VA-style website & creative maintenance services to maintain a steady income stream. It’s work that I like to do and that my clients rely on me for, but it was a constant hustle that wasn’t letting my business flourish. I was so busy with maintenance work that I didn’t have time to take on the bigger projects that really are the bread & butter of my business; Custom Website Design / Development, and Graphic Design / Visual Branding.
To re-prioritize, I began by asking myself a few tough questions. Do I really like doing web & design maintenance work? Should I stop doing it? Can I bring in enough custom web & graphic design projects to cover the loss of this income stream? I came to the conclusion that my business and my whole being needed to focus on bringing in more of the bigger design projects, and to rely less on the smaller maintenance projects. To do this, I needed to get the maintenance projects under control.
The best decision I’ve made for my business so far was switching from the hourly rate model to a package pricing model. On the hourly rate model, I was taking whatever work came at me and doing it in order of when it arrived in my inbox. No schedule. It was first come first serve, and all clients received an invoice at the end of the month. A little chaotic, but I had it under control…until my client base grew! This is when the burnout really started – when I had more work than reasonable working hours in a day to work with.
When I switched to package pricing, things changed almost instantly.
I started using a project calendar to book clients in by the week (or weeks, depending on the size of the project(s) or type of package they purchase).
I created a tiered packaging system based on my recurring clientele’s needs and budgets, to make the transition as comfortable as possible for them while also meeting my income needs and goals. This has helped my clients plan and prioritize their requests, making it easier for me to give their projects my full attention.
And, most importantly for my business, I feel a huge amount of space that I’ve never felt before, because I am more in control of my time. There is still a lot of busywork, but it’s contained within the boundaries I set by implementing a project calendar, setting a dedicated amount of hours and offerings, and limited availability for each package.
Package pricing has also made the entire client management process more streamlined, lessening the amount of back and forth email exchange leading up to a project. There is less negotiation and more certainty about costs and timescales.
Have you ever made a big change and then have all these opportunities start flooding in? This happened when I switched to package pricing.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make because I had been charging an hourly rate for quite a long time, so I was a little afraid. What if my recurring clients don’t like the change? What if they leave? What if this change doesn’t attract new clients? These little fear monsters were dancing a jig around my mind.
When I finally hit “publish” on my Creative Management Services sales page, the fears soon disappeared. My clients were very receptive to the new package pricing, and even better, the page was attracting new clients. Laying out your services and pricing structures into a comprehensive sales page is something I highly recommend to any service-based business!
With this busywork-heavy side of my business now under more control, I am able to set my sights on bigger projects again. The space I made has quickly been filled with new websites, logo design, ad design, and even photo-restoration projects (something I hadn’t done in years!)
What are your “3 P’s”? Or 3 S’s, R’s….whatever alliterative running theme you’ve had in your business lately! How have you or how can you make more room in your business for the bigger work?
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