Don't Make It Hard.
If I had one piece of advice for new business owners or business dreamers it would be this: don’t make it hard. What does that mean exactly? Well, it kind of just means that as humans we tend to over-complicate just about everything and that over-thinking doesn’t always leave us better than it found us. The result is excessive overwhelm and biz resentment. Biz resentment is when you give your business the side eye a lot and talk bad about it to other people behind it’s back. This has happened to me a time or two and it’s always - always! - a signal to me that I need to shift something about how I’m getting my work done.
So many times I listen to entrepreneurs talk about how they started something and didn’t finish it. They say things like this:
“I looked into that but never followed up…”
“Once I get through a, b, and c, then I’ll tackle that…”
“I would do that, but first I feel like I need to do this…”
“I’ll work on that later…”
“I’m not sure where to start so I’m going to think about it some more first…”
Most of these things can be summed up as, “I’m making it hard.” They are building it up in their head to be far more complex and time-consuming then the task typically is. Writing a blog post is actually the easiest thing in the world. Sit down. Open laptop. Journal to your friends about anything (literally ANYTHING) you are interested in at the moment. Add photo. Save & publish. You can do it in 15 minutes. If you’re really careful with your words and not super confident with writing then maybe it will take you an hour. ONE hour. ONE hour for one blog post. Every single business owner I’ve worked with has that time to devote to their website every week. Yet how many actually do? What’s stopping them? I guarantee you, in many cases, it’s the feeling of difficulty and feelings always trump. I had a therapist who told me that once and I’ll never forget it. Reality is meaningless if our feelings don’t match. Have you ever had someone say, “I love you” and you didn’t feel it one bit? They could tell you all day how much it’s true but all you would think is, “I’m not feeling the love. I’m just not.” The same is true regarding our feelings of, “This is hard.”
People LOVE to talk about how hard it is to be a business owner. It’s a favorite pastime. “This is SOOOOOOO HARRRRDDDD. Look at me doing such a HARRRDDDDD THING. I MUST BE REALLY, REALLY AWESOME TO BE ABLE TO DO SUCH A HARD THING. MOST PEOPLE COULD NEVER, EVER DO THIS!!!” There’s a ton of self-importance built in there for sure but there’s also just a lot of whining and over-thinking the whole thing, in my opinion. And yes, I know I’m opening myself up to push-back by saying this stuff, but I’m ready for it. I’ve over the boss drama. Enough is enough. As Jenna Kutcher likes to say, “Busy is not a badge of honor.” I have my own version which is, “The hustle doesn’t equal happiness.”
Here are some things that take less than 4 hours (half a work day) to do that people over-think all the time:
Creating some social media ads in Canva or Over for promotion (3 hours max)
Writing and sending out a newsletter (2 hours max)
Planning out a month’s worth of content in Planoly for Instagram (3 hours max)
Planning out a month’s worth of content in Tailwind for Pinterest (3 hours max)
Writing 4 blog posts to schedule and post once a week for a month (4 hours max)
Updating your website with fresh copy, images, and fonts (4 hours max)
Planning a small event, class, or workshop (choosing a date, booking a location, posting on your website, organizing the details in a google doc, promoting on all platforms) (4 hours max)
Doing a photoshoot (2 hours max)
Editing a photoshoot (4 hours max for a two hour shoot)
Ordering business cards (1 hour on Moo.com)
Creating a logo (1 hour on logojoy or 30 days with Upspeak for something hand-drawn and original)
Deciding on pricing or organizing/structuring your packages/pricing (2 hours max)
Have you ever found yourself stuck with one of the things on the list above for days, weeks, or months? I’ll get to that newsletter one of these days…
Why is that? You know deep down that it really won’t take you all that long and that the payoff is huge, so why are you dragging your feet?
It’s the FEELING of difficulty and it trumps everything else.
So how do we shift out of this and go from dreaming to doing? Our actions are literally the most important piece of the puzzle that is business success. Sure, opportunity is huge. Skillset is also major. Luck is sprinkled in as well. But, at the end of the day, what we DO is everything. It makes or breaks us.
I’ve been called “a doer” more times than I can count and I have to say, when I’m praised for “doing” I typically think to myself, “It wasn’t that hard.” Because it wasn’t. Like it was hard to mentally get there but it wasn’t hard to actually do the thing. I just did it.
I used to work for lululemon and one of the lines in their company manifesto was, “do it now, do it now, do it now.” Don’t put off to later what you can finish right now. I feel like it creates mental clutter to have a whole list of unfinished things accumulating in the back of your brain. It’s like an open tab that’s always there and refuses to close. Just close it! Do the thing now and you don’t have to think about it 100 times later.
When I first started taking on clients at Upspeak I had the bad habit of doing all sorts of things for them that they could easily do themselves in under an hour. I had the mentality of, “I’ll just do it fast and it’ll be off our plate.” My clients LOVE this about me. I LOATHE this about me. I end up doing a little thing here and a little thing there for anywhere from 6-10 clients at a time and before you know it I’m working 24/7! I had to call myself out on this and start creating different expectations for myself and for my clients. I would commit to large-scale projects with them and jump in to check off agreed-upon checklists, but I wouldn’t do “an extra little thing here real quick…” over and over for each of them. It added up fast to tons of hours that I wasn’t hired for and it actually didn’t help my clients at the end of the day. After our time together was over they were right back to needing to do many of those things on their own and they either a) didn’t know how because I had done it for them or b) didn’t want to do it because they hadn’t yet conquered their feeling of “this is hard” and proven to themselves that it actually isn’t.
That’s work each of us has to do ourselves and in our own time. No one else can do it for us. A quick edit here. A Canva ad there. It’s stuff we can all do as part of our work day if we’re organized and committed to efficiency. Make a list, check it off, don’t let it grow until your unable to knock it out in a day.
Please know that this blog is coming from a highly anxious person who struggles with depression so I understand the emotional component to all of this. There are days where the littlest task feels insurmountable. I have had more of those days then I care to recall and I have strict rules about those days. Read prior blog posts I’ve written on how to give yourself space when you need it. You can also purchase my “8 Steps To A Zen Work Week” in the Guide Shop at the bottom/footer of my homepage. In that guide I talk about allowing yourself to have a work week that’s flexible so that you aren’t forcing yourself to achieve when you don’t have the emotional reserves in place to do so.
This isn’t about forcing yourself. This is about creating a habit that’s in place day to day. Yes, there will be times you procrastinate. Yes, there will be times you skip a task that’s small because you’re distracted by something shiny. I get it. I’m obsessed with shiny things. What we don’t want to do, however, is make a habit out of thinking, “It’s allll sooooo damn harrrrdddddd…” and constantly telling our brains that over and over and then BELIEVING what we are telling our brains.
Most of it isn’t hard. I promise.
Is owning your own business a lot of work? DUH. LIFE is a lot of work. I don’t know that owning your own business is more difficult than working a tough job anywhere else for someone else. I really don’t. I actually think in a lot of ways that I’m happier, more fulfilled, and have better work/life balance now then I ever have since I started working full-time for myself.
We all get to decide as small business owners what our work weeks look like. We can kick and scream all day long about how that’s not true and “our clients need this, and our employees need that, and I can’t take a day off or it will all fall apart” but is that true? Like is that really 100% truthful? You may have evidence that it’s true from past experiences and so now you’re convinced. What if you stopped to think about evidence you may have missed along the way that proves it’s not as true as you currently believe? Maybe you took time off once because you were sick and actually everything kept humming along. Remember that time? Maybe you gave a project over to an employee once when you were skeptical and they kind of nailed it. Remember that time? Maybe one time you checked out for a long week-end “by accident” and then someone still bought something from your website so you made money even without actively marketing yourself 24/7. Remember that time?
We tend to find what we’re looking for. Practice becoming someone who looks for a relaxed, fulfilling, and successful business that doesn’t eat your soul. PRACTICE. It’s not hard. It doesn’t all have to be hard. I promise. 99% of what you have to do within your business is not hard at all and is actually kind of fun. In addition, at least half of it can be delegated out to other people a lot sooner then you think. This will require you being a really confident person who wants to give opportunity to others and who feels joy when they succeed rather than fear because it threatens you. That will require work too, but that’s the work you want to be up to as a leader in this world. You want to attract support, keep support, and thrive on support so that you can truly live your best life and not just pretend to on Instagram.
I believe in you to do all of these things and more because you are waking up every day with a dream in your heart and you are practicing actions that support that dream and that is why I love you. Are you up for talking more about this kind of stuff? You should join me at The Uprising Day Retreat in October!