Making time to work ON your business

If you’re a creative solopreneur like me, you know how difficult it is to open up space in your day/week/month for business tasks.

Client projects take precedence, of course, and we get busy and pretty soon we lose sight of the work we need to do for ourselves.

Even now, a year into running my own small writing business, I have difficulty allocating time to the real and necessary work of building my business. Somehow, I equate those non-billable hours with unproductive time. But I’m determined to get over my anxiety about doing work for ME—and right now is the perfect time to do that.

I returned from the awesome Creative Freelancer Conference two weeks ago with a notebook full of to-do items, none of which are client projects. This lengthy agenda, combined with a new website that I need to publicly launch, coincides perfectly with a midsummer slowdown in client work. I anticipated this slow period several weeks ago, and decided that I’d allocate my billable time for the next 2 weeks to myself as the client.

Before I left for the conference, I already had a list of tasks:

  • Update my business papers to reflect the design of my brand-new website
  • Create content for the newsletter that I’ll soon be launching
  • Develop a marketing calendar to support the new site

And, of course, CFC speakers gave me a whole bunch of new to-dos:

  • From David Baker—outline the qualities of my ideal client; send a real letter on real stationery by real U.S. Mail to my best prospects; develop newsletter content that helps prospects, but doesn’t simply pitch my services.
  • From Allen Murabayashi—update my hourly rate worksheet with actual expenses from year 1; generate a list of SEO keywords and implement an SEO tool on my website; put my customers into ‘buckets’ and tailor my messaging to each group.
  • From Sarah Durham—explore the possibility of pricing packages for standard projects.
  • From Luke Mysse, I’ll ‘borrow’ a bunch of his presentation techniques to prepare for a conference session I’m giving next spring.
  • From Patrick McNeil—begin using the Rapportive social media plugin for Gmail and LastPass to manage my passwords.

It takes time to build a steady stream of work, and I’m experiencing the busy/slow cycle that many creative entrepreneurs face. I’m getting better at anticipating those slow times so that I can make excellent use of those days and hours.

This morning, I was lamenting that I don’t have a client project starting this week. Rob said, “Relax. Just be glad you have time to focus on growing your business.” Indeed.

One thought on “Making time to work ON your business

  1. Adam Smith

    I’m sure you can appreciate that it’s doubly tough if you’re a contractor who gets most of their work through the internet. Not only do you have to do all the usual business branding, but you’re expected to create a blog, do twitter, facebook, google+ and linkedin as well as all the social interaction. On the bright side my contractor accountants are really well connected, so I keep getting work through their connections.