Today’s post is by Claire Hughes, co-creator of the Handmade Horizons marketing e-course, which launches next week.
Over to you Claire!
How was 2011 for you? Personally, 2011 was a year of big development in my business and personal life. I learnt a lot – the hard way – but made it through the other side! Here are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past twelve months about growing a business with kids. I hope some of these will be of use to you, and help set you up for 2012!
1. Get accountable
One of the biggest things I learned last year was that social accountability rocks. Being a work at home mum means you don’t have status updates to prepare for your boss. Or weekly team meetings to frantically prep for five minutes before they start! So you’re free to just mosey-along on your own.
Sharing my goals and tasks with other people helped me to kick my procrastination habit in 2011. And lots of exciting projects came to fruition as a result. Ways you could make yourself accountable to others could include: sharing your goals and ambitions with readers on your blog, partnering-up with somebody to launch a new product or service (like I did with the Handmade Horizons marketing e-course), or setting-up an accountability group with a small group of women in business. I find Sunday night is a great time to check-in by email, and a regular Skype call keeps everyone on-track!
However you choose to do it – the key is to hold yourself accountable to the promises you make. Once you get into the habit – they become a lot more difficult to break.
2. Ask for help
Is it just me, or is asking for help something that’s much harder to do once you’re working for yourself? Friends and family often assume that running your own business is a walk in the park – when the reality is often much further from the truth.
One thing I heard last year really struck a chord with me: “You can have it all, but you can’t do it all”. If you’re putting pressure on yourself to run a successful business, have a clean and tidy house, prepare home-cooked meals and spend quality time with the kids…..Stop. Admit that you can’t do it all without at least some help.
And like it or not, this usually means having to ask. Whether that means asking a partner or family member to help out, or paying for a cleaner or childcare at least some of the time – don’t feel guilty about not doing it all yourself.
3. Be realistic about what you can achieve
I am terminally over-ambitious about what I can achieve, and several times in the past this has bitten me on the behind. Luckily I’ve never had to disappoint a client, and I always meet deadlines – even if it means staying up all night. But this isn’t a strategy for long-term success, it’s a guaranteed route to exhaustion and stress!
It’s easy to start the year all fired-up about what you can achieve, but I’m learning to be more realistic about what I can physically get done. Let’s face it – kids sometimes get ill, or won’t sleep at night. There will be days when you’re exhausted, and just need a rest! So I’m dropping the super-woman act and starting to get real.
Of course I’ll still work hard and push myself – but I’m making a conscious effort to be more honest with myself. Can you do the same?
4. Play to your strengths
Being a solopreneur means you have to do several jobs at once. But slogging away at things you don’t enjoy is a real bore. And isn’t running your own business supposed to mean flexibility and fun?! One of the things I got clear on last year was my true talents and strengths – the easiest way to do this to write a list of everything you enjoy doing, and everything you don’t!
Nine times out of ten, the things we enjoy are the things we are best at. Which means that by spending more time focusing on things we actually like, we are delivering better value to our customers as well as pleasing ourselves! So try to find ways to incorporate more of the things you enjoy into running your business, and drop ways of doing the things you hate.
If you’re wondering how on earth you might be able to drop essential tasks as a fledgling business – consider outsourcing via sites like eLance, or arrange a skill-swap with a friend? Even on a tight budget – Where there’s a will, there’s way….
5. Celebrate your achievements
When was the last time you took a moment to celebrate all the achievements you have made in your business and personal life?
It’s so easy to get bogged-down in the day-to-day grind, that we often forget to take stock of all the good things we’ve done. We focus instead on the goals and tasks we missed, the projects that never quite got off the ground….. But if you take a moment to think about everything you’ve accomplished over the past twelve months – I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
I spent some time reviewing my year at the end of 2011, and found it really motivating to see how far I’d come. Lots of us are so used to playing-down our achievements and under-valuing our work, that we never even consider the good things we’ve done. So this year – try to schedule in some time every month to look back at what you have achieved. They don’t have to be major milestones – it could be anything from a “thank you” from a customer, or simply trying something new.
Claire is a marketing specialist with over ten year’s experience in online retail. She offers free tips and advice to creative women at Make, Do & Sell (www.makedoandsell.com), and is co-creator of the Handmade Horizons marketing e-course.
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