A business isn’t going to grow itself. You are going to need to invest time in your business and to invest money as well. For almost any business task, you can choose whether you should spend time or money on it:
- Administrative tasks
- Marketing and social media
- Graphic design & product packaging
- Shipping and fulfillment
- Web design & development
- Product photography
- Customer service
- Product production/manufacturing
- Creating and managing wholesale relationships
In the beginning, you tend to have to do all these jobs. The business is not profitable yet. You have much more time than money. Time to learn how it all works, try strategies and new methods. Time to write out mailing labels by hand for every order.
How to notice growth
As you get busier and busier with customers and sales, you might feel stretched thin. These are growing pains! This means that there is a shift happening, where you find yourself with much less time, and (hopefully) more money.
Any time you are feeling stressed by your business, it’s time to stop and evaluate. Are these growing pains? Is your time vs. money ratio changing? Maybe it’s time to delegate some of those tasks. Time to hire an employee, pay for a service, buy software, or outsource.
Almost everything in your business that you started out doing yourself is something that you could train someone else to do. In many cases, you could hire an expert to take care of a job without any training at all.
It is so easy to get used to the way you’ve always done things. There comes a point where the old way is no longer appropriate for the business you’ve become. If you, as creative lead, are spending most of your time on non-creative tasks, something has to change!
It is common for businesses to stagnate when they hit a period of growth without recognizing it. It’s easy for a business owner to stay attached to what used to work for them. Maybe one person is trying to do the work of four people, and dropping all the balls. Maybe a team is doing something by hand that could be done in a fraction of the time with the right tools or software. Maybe a cousin has been bribed to redesign the website, or too much time is being spent fruitlessly trying to get Facebook followers to buy products.
Investing profit in your business’s future
Once you’ve started the ball rolling and you’re seeing success, it makes sense to start trading time for money. Get your time back to create and innovate for your business by paying to get the other necessary (but not necessary for you to do) tasks off of your plate.
One of the business owners we’ve worked with (twice) who I admire is Amy Richardson of June & January. We asked her how long it took for her business to be profitable, and she told us:
“Surprisingly, I was in the green from day one. I was able to use my ‘real’ job to front the cash for my business, and just kept reinvesting. Always reinvesting (STILL reinvesting). Almost every dollar of profit goes right back into the company, and every time that return is bigger and bigger.”
This might seem brave to you, but I imagine it’s common sense in the business world. Creative businesses are a bit different. You didn’t get into this because you were savvy at business; you got into it for the love of what you do, learning business tactics on the side as you had time.
What happens when you value your money more than your time
I was fascinated by this post from Megan of Handmade Brooklyn, who insisted on doing everything herself, burned out, and quit her business:
“Last year, I was doing the biggest order of my life: 42,000 vials of body oil for a subscription box. Not only was it the biggest order ever, it was also the dumbest decision I had made to date, because I filled the order by myself. I can’t explain the reasoning behind it, I think that I knew it would happen over the summer, which was my slowest time of year, so at least it would give me something to focus on. In any case, it should’ve been outsourced.”
Originally posted on the now-closed Academy of Handmade site as: Feeling Burnout In A Successful Business And How To Change It
What should you choose? Time or money?
Time can feel less risky to spend than money. But, while you can get more money, you can never add more time to your day. This article was so interesting to me:
“Which would lead to greater happiness — the money or the time? For a research project, we put this question to more than 4,000 Americans of different ages, income levels, occupations and marital and parental status. […] we found that most people valued money more than time. Sixty-four percent of the 4,415 people we asked in five surveys chose money.
Is money the right choice? We had also asked our survey respondents to report their level of happiness and life satisfaction. We found that the people who chose time were on average statistically happier and more satisfied with life than the people who chose money.
So money may turn out to be the wrong choice.”
We’re in the business of making things easier for creative business owners! If it’s time to finally get that website off your plate, have someone make a plan for your social media marketing, or redesign your brand, let me know. I’d love to help you make a change that will not only make you more money, but give you back your irreplaceable time to do what only you can do in your business.
Here is the list of services we offer:
- Brand strategy, including competitor research, target customer profiles, and differentiation
- Brand identity design, including logo, product packaging, and marketing materials
- Custom ecommerce website projects using Shopify
- Copywriting: about pages, home pages, product descriptions & more
- Product photography: hero shots, model shots, white background
- Business naming and trademarking
- Email marketing setup and social media strategy
- Search engine optimization
Get in touch today! I’ll be delighted to hear from you.