START UPS FOR CREATIVES #2: HOW TO MANAGE YOUR DAY TO DAY
Welcome to the second post in my new ‘Start Ups for Creatives’ blog series! If this is your first time visiting the series, I highly recommend you read my first blog post where I talk about starting out and what you need to have in place when you leave your day job to pursue your passion full time, including setting up your business, redefining professional, branding, working with dream clients, creating a great work space and personal branding. For this blog post I am going to talk about how to manage your day to day because with a little discipline and lots of fun, you’ll be so glad you set up your own business! You just need to have a few things in place to make sure your day to day is managed brilliantly. EXERCISE & TRAVEL The single most important thing I hear entrepreneurs say about managing their day to day is exercise. Understandably! It makes you healthier, happier, creative and productive. I also think it’s about finding the right form of exercise for you. For me, it’s a combination of F45, swimming, running and pilates. Oh! And hiking of course. For you it might be surfing, yoga and cycling! Just make sure it’s your first priority every day. And travel! It changes your perspective, it lets you focus on you, it helps you value the life around you, it makes you appreciate the little things, you learn that experiences are way more important than things, and you learn to appreciate all of the moments. So if a long vaycay is not on your horizon, why don’t you plan a weekender?
MONEY, BUDGETING & INVOICING Whilst many of us love being creative as a living and working on our own terms, we have to pay the bills. So the first thing you need to do is get into the mindset of a business person. Whilst knowing what to price for your services or products can get confusing and daunting, it ultimately comes down to feeling worthy – it’s ok to love what you do and make a really good living from it! If you’re still unsure, do some research to find out what other likeminded people are charging. Break it down even further into hours and what money you need to live.
Knowing your worth is also about knowing when to raise your prices. The single best piece of advice I’ve ever read is from Lisa Messenger, entrepreneur, editor and owner of The Collective Hub. In her book ‘Money & Mindfulness’ she encourages her readers to raise their prices by 20% straight away – not tomorrow, but now. It’s a big enough amount to make a difference in your overall earnings but it’s a small enough amount not to make a huge dint for current and new clients. I personally would avoid raising prices for current clients under contract, but for all new clients I raised my prices by 20% and no one battered their eyelashes.
When it comes to budgeting, it’s important to surround yourself with experts from day one, no matter what stage of business you are in but especially in the start-up phases of a business. Set aside some funds for some one-on-one time with a bookkeeper who’ll be able to help you with invoicing, BAS and GST (for Australians), training, payroll and reporting on the businesses earnings vs. expenses. They should also put you in touch with a great accountant who can help you with setting up your business legally, giving you tax advice and helping with your end of financial year lodgments.
Some great tools I use are Xero, which is an amazing accounting and invoicing app. It’s a great tool for capturing receipts and storing them in your files, instead of having thousands of receipts fluttering all of your office. Mint is another great tool to help with budgeting. As an example, you can set a monthly budget for coffee and it can let you know when you’ve almost reached your coffee allowance for the month.
ORGANISATION, PRODUCTIVITY & DISCIPLINE Whilst it’s amazing being able to work anywhere you want, control your own hours, and wear what you want, a successful start-up is organised, understands the importance of productivity and has a lot of discipline. If you don’t have these three foundations set in place when you set up your business, you won’t be able to manage your day to day successfully, and inevitably you’ll be all over the place.
Some great tools I use are Evernote, which allows me to write To Do lists on my phone and are directly saved on my computer and laptop, thanks to its cloud service. It has literally changed my world! I still love writing in my notebook because there is something gratifying about writing down things on paper. However I am hooked on Evernote because it’s paperless and I won’t lose my notes – ever. Actually, have you heard the saying ‘all the gear and no idea”? Well it might be one thing to use Evernote and notebooks, but unless you know how to effectively write a To Do list, how can you expect productivity ? Make sure you read my tips on creating an effective To Do list that actually works.
MANAGING EMAILS Sorry, but people who have a crazy busy inbox is not someone I want to work with – ever. How can anyone be productive and efficient if they have over 1,000 emails sitting in their inbox? It’s like Facebook, if they have over 1,000 friends I don’t trust them. Got it? So my number rule for managing your day to day with aplomb is to avoid email clutter by having an easy to use email system. Need some tips? Check out my post here.
MANAGING CLIENTS When it comes to managing clients, my best advice is to always work with your ideal client and only do projects you love. Seriously. As I've said before, I would prefer having a business with fewer great clients with a really happy little team of two or three people, than have a business with lots of bad clients with a really unhappy team and high staff turnover. I have found over the last couple of years that the more selective I am, the dreamier my clients get and as a result, I seem to attract even more dreamier clients. In addition, always get back to your clients within a few hours - even if you don't have an answer to a query straight away, no client likes to wait. Always have a face to face meeting every month to chat about that months reporting and what's going to happen the next month. And remember to touch base with your client every week - make them feel loved! Always.
NETWORKING & PITCHING In order to attract dream clients, you need to do the work, of course. You also need to network and know how to pitch new business. For me, this always makes me a little nervous – sometimes it can feel like blind dating. But after you attend your first networking event, meet a likeminded creative for coffee, write your first pitch email or create your first proposal for a potential client, you start to feel more confident with practice. Ignore those pangs of self-doubt and just go for it!
SOCIAL MEDIA Social media is by far the most powerful tool for brands, bloggers and businesses. So make sure you use it properly! Gone are the days where you simply post a pretty picture and hope for the best. Brands, bloggers and creatives need to be strategic about what they post and when they post. Is there a client you really want to do work for? I highly recommend giving them a shout out on your social media platforms at least three times to get their attention before approaching them for a coffee date. If you’re unsure about your approach, how you can make killer content that your community engages with, or don’t know how to use social media properly, why not attend one of my Instagram Workshops in Sydney and Brisbane this August?
Some tools (all paid) I use to better manage my social media presence are Iconosquare, to help me understand who my audience is, when they are on Instagram the most and what content they like the best. I also use Schedugram to help me schedule when I am on the run or travelling. I’ve also heard about Edgar, which is a great tool if you use Facebook or Twitter as it populates your feed with content you produced ages ago but have forgotten to give it love on your social media platforms. It’s super clever!
WORKING FROM HOME For many brands, bloggers and creatives, starting a new business means we’ll often find ourselves working from home initially – or forever. It depends on what you love the most and where you feel creative. Working from home has many pros and cons – some of the pros include not having to worry about the daily commute to work, being able to work in your own space, not having to pay office rent and being able to claim your work space when tax time comes around. However, there are some cons too, such as not getting to mix with other colleagues, the fridge and television can be distracting and single tasking gets more difficult, experiencing cabin fever and not having the dedicated space you feel truly creative in (especially when you’re renting and can’t create a dedicated work space for your business). If you do work from home, I highly recommend working from a co-working space at least once a week. It means you get to surround yourself with likeminded people, network, potentially pick up new clients and avoid paying hefty rent when you set up your business. However, for many of us there will be a time when we need to stop working from home and hire an office space. Many co-working spaces have permanent desks to rent on a month by month basis, if you want to test out working away from home as a starter. Or if you have some friends in the same shoes as you, why not team up and find a space which you can create together?
So that’s it for the second post in my ‘Start Ups for Creatives’ blog series. What did you think? Did you learn anything new? Next week I’ll be taking a look at how to maintain your business, who to surround yourself with, collaborating, the value of staying small, work life balance and more.
Ps. Thank you to my lovely friend Viktoria for taking this photo whilst we were hiking in Canada last year, miss you so much!