Feeling Overwhelmed? Here’s How You Can Easily Regain Control of Your Workload
Your aim as a Small Business owner is to get as much work in as you can – isn’t it? It certainly is – to a point. I’m going to share with you how we found that point, which might help you if you’re in a similar situation.
There is such a thing as too much business.
Three years ago I was living the simple life as a freelance editor. Work from publishers would simply land in my inbox. But, as the publishing industry contracted this was no longer viable, and even an awesome editor like myself couldn’t rely on the work. After analysing where the publishing industry was going, I decided to move into self-publishing for Small Business. I had the skills and the connections. A perfect fit.
After giving the business a new look and hanging out my shingle, the work started to flow. At first it was just right for one person; two or three books at a time. As things grew, I started outsourcing to a few reliable freelancers. Still all good. As the growth continued, my partner, Anna, came into the business, and we also hired one of our wonderful freelancers.
In case you’re wondering, this is the point where we should have stopped. This is the point where I should have started saying no, when I should have taken stock and considered more carefully the amount and type of work we were taking on. But, like most people trying to build a business, I thought the best thing to do was to say yes to everything and work out how to manage it later.
Now, don’t get me wrong – we still hit every deadline, produced great books and had dozens of happy authors. The problem was the effort it was taking from me to make it happen. Small Business is hard, and none of us are afraid of some long hours. But nobody goes into it to consistently work 12-hour days. Who would sign up for that? Not me – but somehow I had.
Realising we had reached a point at which we needed to hire another full-time person or scale back a little, we decided on the latter as we realised we were growing faster than expected.
Here’s what we’ve done:
- We’ve scaled back our ambitious plan of 50 books a year to a more manageable 26. We might get to 50 in a few years, but not now.
- When a potential client makes an enquiry, I tell them when we can start on their book, rather than just asking what their schedule is and then having to make sure we meet it.
- We no longer take on projects that are not our core business.
- We no longer accept projects that are on extremely tight deadlines.
- We’ve increased our rates to be in line with the high standard of service we offer, rather than thinking we need to keep our prices down to make sure we get work.
It may seem that all of this would result in us missing out on work – and it has! That’s precisely the point.
But now, rather than more work than we need, on sometimes difficult timelines, at rates that were less than what we should have been charging for our level of service, we are attracting more of our target market, have more control over our schedule, are avoiding high-effort, lower return projects, and – here’s the gold – I’m working less and earning more than I was 12 months ago.
So, if you find that you’re frantic and can’t seem to get control of it (we’ve all been there), carefully consider whether you’re just saying yes to everything rather than making an effort to take on the amount and type of work that is right for you and your current circumstances. If you have more work than you can handle, use the opportunity to adjust your business so that you are consistently landing the right work, rather than just aiming for ‘busy’.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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