Most people focus on all the things they’re going to do in their business. They’re constantly adding items to the list—“I’ll do this; I’ll do that; and I’ll start a new initiative.” And usually, we send you a lot of dispatches on that same theme—encouraging you to start making moves in your business.
This week, we want you take a breath. We’d like you to start compiling a different kind of list—one that’s just as important, but is often overlooked. What are the things that you do for your business that you want to stop doing?
When you’re an entrepreneur building a fledgling business—or even an entrepreneur who has already built a highly successful business—it can feel impossible to even consider the idea of stopping any one task. Sometimes, we convince ourselves that the only way our venture will work is if we keep tending it relentlessly until we collapse of exhaustion. But your business isn’t a house of cards—if you take one task out, either handing it to another person or letting it go entirely, the whole company won’t cave in. In fact, it’s more likely that it will get stronger. Why? Because you’ll be able to truly focus on the parts of your business that matter to you most. And that focus, in turn, will generate revenue.
We call our lifestyle workshops Life and Craft for a reason. It's because while we believe it's important and necessary to hone your craft, we also believe in balancing that craft with the life that makes it possible. Nobody starts a creative business because they want to be decimated by the workload, but that's often what happens. When you love your craft, it's easy to so caught up in it that you don't even realize that your business has started running you-into the ground.
To prevent this from happening in our own lives, every year, we've made it a tradition to stop doing something that we don't enjoy, something that prevents us from living our fullest lives and keeps us from being strategic about the ways we make money. Think of it this way: just like you periodically go through our closets to get rid of shoes and clothes you aren't wearing, it's important to go through your photography business and find those things you're doing that aren't necessary.
Keep in mind that this isn't about singular tasks. It's about a better sense of resource management, about how to allocate time to make the space for things you want to do. After all-why start your own creative business if you don't make time to pursue the creative projects that make you happiest?
So, what did we stop doing?
2. doing our own housework-for us, it was worth it to hire others for these tasks!
3. putting together our own gifts for clients-and found a brilliant gift-giving company to take the reins for us!
4. hosting preview parties with potential clients-and freed up time to devote to the clients who had already chosen to book us.
5. fielding the same questions over and over again from couples-by taking the time to design and print the Bride Guide, which educates couples and answers their frequently asked questions.
6. writing our own blogs-we trained an employee to do them for us. After all, we like the photography part, which isn't literally worth a thousand words.
7. booking portrait sessions whenever the client wanted-and instead set the time and place that would enable us to take the best possible photos.
doing Sunday weddings-to make time for church and family!
Now, we didn't do all these all at once. We implemented them slowly, over time. We identified them based on a hard look at our priorities and our enjoyment level of each activity versus the 'reward' for doing the activity. Today, with a little one on the way, all of our priorities and lists are about to get a hard shove. And, because we've practiced sticking to our stop list for years, we feel ready for the challenge!
Each time we stopped an activity, we've felt a bit of "FOMO"-the It's only natural. And, yes, you might miss out on a few things, but just remember that those things weren't your ideal business, anyway. In short, stop bending over backwards, and start cartwheeling instead, toward the business of your dreams.
Now for the Takeaways:
• You're not missing out. And, stopping (or delegating) unpleasant tasks will not collapse your business! By prioritizing what truly matters-your passion-you can improve your work, your state of mind, and your profit margin.
• If there's something you're still interested in keeping on your list, and you're not at a good stopping point, finish the job! Half-done tasks and ideas can make your schedule feel cluttered. Complete something that's been on your to-do list for a while (Launching a new website? Hiring an intern?), so when that task is done, you can slide it away and make room for more.
• Go on a hunt for three things you know you can stop doing in your business. Don't stop until you find those three! Like getting rid of old clothes and shoes, you might hesitate at first, but once you start, it can be freeing.
• We've said it before, and we'll say it again-if there's a task you know you hate doing, hire someone who makes that task their business! Cat used to dread doing wedding blogs and sharing them on social media-but procrastinating was actually losing us potential business as we always see an uptick in inquiries after a blog gets posted. Now, our blogs are done on time and our pipeline is consistently full. Finances, housecleaning, gift giving, marketing, and more can all be handled on time by professionals who are happy to get that job done.
(two things we got back by giving other stuff up!),
Luke & Cat