After 2.5 years in business — I still think of myself as new to the game. I am just getting started, still learning and still have plenty of room to grow! However sometimes those who are even newer to running a business than me ask how I do it. How do I market myself, get clients, get money, do projects, etc, etc? I don’t have much of a strategy or a secret. My business plan consist of this, “Do work I am proud of for businesses that I want to see succeed.” I realize this isn’t very helpful information to any of you who might be looking to me to help you find your path on the entrepreneurial road, sorry about that. After my last post and the response I got from everyone about it, I have this idea that maybe instead of talking about the things I do that may contribute to me staying in business, perhaps it will be more informative to talk about some of the things I DON’T do. So, some of you may be shocked by this one…
I don’t work weekends.
From Friday evening through Monday morning my home office stands untouched (unless my cat sneaks atop the desk to chew on a pencil – the little bugger!) I have a separate laptop for personal use, like laying on my couch watching youtube videos or making mixed CD’s. If you were to call my work phone on a Saturday evening — you’d hear my outgoing message informing you of my regular office hours and that the office is currently closed and many of you who follow me on Twitter even know — my stream slows a bit as the work week comes to an end.
I don’t work weekends, Except For When I do.
I’m not going to lie, I do check in on email at least a couple times a day — But (perhaps it is because I’ve already set the standard with my clients,) I rarely GET emails and never get phone calls on weekends!
Now, there are exceptions. If a client has an expedited project with me, I work whatever hours are needed to finish the job on time — weekend, holiday, day or night. If I commit to doing a rushed project and my client pays the additional fees involved — I am at their beck and call until we finish. Also… while I never tell a client I will be working on their project over the weekend and I never promise any deliverables during my days off — sometimes I work cause I just like to! …I love what I do and it can be a lot of fun, so sometimes I am typing up a style sheet at 9PM or laying out a blog comment form on a Sunday morning. But, shhh… don’t let my clients know. ;)
Family > Business
If you love what you do so much, why don’t you work weekends?
I love what I do, yes — but even more… I love my family and spending time with them (and my friends — which I group in that “family” label.) is something I value. Doing work you love is important, but having people to share your life with — there isn’t anything more important than that!
Over-Time is Over-Rated
But if you work more hours, you could make more money and build your business faster!
In some cases this may be true. But, the general rule that working more hours means you get more done, is bullshit.
At my old 9to5, I spent the better part of my 4 years with the company skipping lunch breaks, logging 50 – 60 hour average weeks. I took work home, I worked on weekends and eventually… as you might have guessed — I got burnt out! I started having terrible anxiety problems, I gained about 30lbs as a result of skipping meals and binge eating before bed. I found myself overworked and under appreciated. And then one day, I decided to change that.
You’re thinking “Oh! This is the part where she quits!” No.. no… by the time I left to start my business I had actually found myself in a much healthier situation at my former post. The reason for THAT is because I made a conscious decision to stop with all the extra hours. I deleted all my work files from my home computer, deactivated office email from coming to my house. I started eating lunch (mostly) everyday and made it a regular habit to be out of the office no later than 6PM. After a week of this, I was amazed that instead of getting less done — I was getting MORE done! I felt less burnt out and happier, I was more productive! Since I knew my time at the office was limited, I worked smarter and prioritized tasks in a more efficient way. I was logging a fraction of the hours and getting the same amount (if not more) work done!
My Final Thought
So there you go… I don’t have some crazy secret strategy on getting more client leads… just a glimpse at how and why I do (or don’t do) the things I do. Is my logic on this warranted or do you think it’s in spite of this practice that I’m staying in business?