This article is a little difficult to write. I really had to dig deep into my soul and tell myself that telling this story may help someone else. It’s painful to relive and worse to admit. It’s about when my work began to suck.
Let’s travel back to 2011. I finally had enough clients to quit the rat race and become fully independent! I wasn’t making half of my old income, but I didn’t have to share with anyone but the IRS. I cut back my expenses and made it work. Not having a cubicle and a pants-suit made it all worth it! Not only that, I was making it! 80% of businesses fail in the first year, but I was on my way UP and I was STOKED!
Fast forward a bit to 2013. I’m still “making it”, churning out the brochures and websites like Sam’s Club churns out oversized muffins, but…things aren’t the same. My brochures are losing their zing… My websites code isn’t nearly as clean… My sales are on the rise, but my quality is on a downward slope. Balls are dropping, deadlines are passing, and my designs aren’t as hot as they used to be. I see my downward slope and think, “I need to work more. Work harder.” To combat this growing problem, I add in weekends, late nights and holidays.
My work starts to take over my life. I don’t have fun anymore. I’ve been reduced to a machine. My social life suffers, my marriage requires more attention than I’m giving it, and my dejected dog has been finding revenge in destroying the yard’s sprinkler system. I’m working harder, but everything is falling apart.
One day a client calls me. He tells me, “Brandy, I’m disappointed.” I reply, “I know.” I was disappointed too. The thing is…I didn’t have any creativity left in me. It was gone. Because all my hours were spent being a machine, I was churning out the same awful design for everyone. I knew my work wasn’t as great as it used to be. Working all those hours and giving up all my social life wasn’t making my business better AND it was killing me.
I became an independent worker for more freedom. I wanted to be able to have time to myself, read more books, learn more things, be ME! But somewhere down the line those goals were replaced with work. Constant, unrelenting work. This wasn’t what I signed up for. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Maybe I should just go back to being an employee like normal people…
After about two weeks of feeling sorry for myself and wondering if I should shutter the whole thing, I finally came back to my senses. NO WAY! I couldn’t do that! Be an employee?! I worked for three years as a freelancer at night and on weekends to unchain myself from the salary game. I’m not going back. This is where most businesses fail. The point where work becomes overwhelming and working more doesn’t solve it.
I asked myself, “What can I do today to solve my problems tomorrow?” The answer was simple. Get help. I needed to hire my first team member. Within a week I had hired my first graphic designer. He took over all my brand-new brochure designs. He was expensive, I took a hit from my profits, but those brochures looked amazing. My portfolio improved and became more compelling and that increased my number of clients and grew my revenue.
Soon after, I got to that familiar point where working harder no longer solved my problems. I asked myself, “What is my biggest time suck?” That led to hiring website designers. That took a bit longer than a few days…I kissed A LOT of frogs in that process. Once I found the perfect website team, my new friends unloaded a ton of work from my shoulders and I was back on the game!
What I learned from my 2013 downfall was better than an entire MBA program. Your time is best spent working on your business instead of inside of it. In the beginning, you can shoulder the burden, but the pivot point where more work doesn’t solve problems will be a “make or break” moment. When you realize you’re at this point, it’s time to reevaluate your business and personal goals.
If you’re going through this transition yourself, you’ll learn very soon that working more won’t solve your problems. It’s time to get help. My team of graphic artists, website designers, social media experts, SEO gurus, and marketing assistants are waiting to help you today! It’s time to flip the switch and make your business work for you.