My number one advice for new business owners is to establish your core values and a set of rules for yourself first. This is something I did not do when I started my own business and man, oh man I wish I had. While owning your own business can lead to more free time, financial freedom, and flexibility. It can quickly lend itself to being the opposite if you aren’t careful.
One of the biggest lessons I am learning right now is balance. I have a hard time working from home and cutting everything off when my husband gets home. If I get an email from a client at night, I feel guilty for not responding. Or if I do respond, I feel guilty for not shutting off work. Setting values and rules for myself has been a game-changer these past few months.
Below are a few rules/values I have set for myself
No work email on my phone: If I am at my computer during work hours, I can respond to emails. If I am away from work, I won’t even see them. This has truly given me a lot of freedom and the ability to mentally shut off work. Eventually, I want to get in the habit of shutting off all social media at the end of my workday as well.
Clear communication with clients: Sometimes clients need tough love and sometimes they just need a friend. Being there for my clients looks like wearing a bunch of different hats sometimes, but knowing what they need is important. This comes through intentional listening, asking good questions, and being intuitive to their thoughts. Knowing them outside of business is always helpful as well to understand them more as a person. Clear communication also helps establish trust and makes the process go more smoothly. As a Designer, when I connect well with my clients, I tend to see that we are on the same page visually as well and there are fewer revisions during the process.
Build relationships with my clients above all. This looks like loving them well, putting them first, valuing them because they are investing in me. Building relationships with my clients often come naturally to me—I love getting to ask good questions and getting to the heart of their business and them. It’s even why I started my own business. Some clients really inspire me to love others better—I see it in the way that they love their own clients and how they are so thoughtful in their jobs. Typically putting clients first comes easy because I am so blessed to work with incredible people. But, I am trying to do better about serving them fully and coming up with little ways to make their experience with me even better. Even though loving them typically comes naturally, I am always trying to strive to do better in so many ways.
Quiet time before you open your computer: For me, this looks like spending a little time reading my Bible, journaling, and praying. This sets me up for the rest of my day and allows me to go to work with a thankful heart. I’ll be honest, I struggle with this one often. I am tempted to check my email before I open my Bible. I am tempted to get a start on the workday and then come back to quiet time. But, on those days that I follow my rule, I can truly see a difference in my posture and thought that I have for the rest of the day.
Embrace different seasons, the seasons of slowness and busyness: Different seasons have different purposes. While I am writing this blog post, I am in a slow season. It has been so nice to breathe for a minute, but if I’m being honest, the fear of failure creeps in too. The fear that I am not nearly as busy as I was a few months ago is daunting. However, I have had more time to do tasks that I normally would not have time or energy for. For example, I am batching a bunch of blog posts and content ideas currently. I am also allowing myself creative freedom to do projects that can go on my portfolio to potentially reach future clients. In this season of slowness, I am approaching it with a heart of reflection, a heart that is willing to slow down and breathe.
Disclaimer: I break these rules and I am not perfect at them. But, when I do follow them, I have so much more peace and freedom with and about work. I encourage you to set a list of rules and values for you and your business. Find the balance between them both and set the rules as a priority, but also give yourself grace for those times you break them. We are all learning friends.