In honor of this love-filled month of February, I’ve been trying to take notice of areas of my life I pay less attention to. In my personal life, home and spirituality have been taking a backseat lately. But in business, I can easily neglect my CEO
side – the part of me that’s a business owner who is in control and makes things happen.
I think it’s common for creative people to put focus anywhere but on being little-miss-bossy-pants. When we take the reins and act like a boss, we are stepping way outside our comfort zones. But if I’m being honest with myself, every time I pop on my CEO hat, I make more money and feel better doing it.
So here are some of my favorite ways to love up on your CEO side and see some of that money, honey!
1. Create a Morning Routine
I resisted this like the plague (perhaps you almost scanned past this paragraph like I would have?) because I am NOT a morning person. In college, I was known for going back to bed after morning classes and sleeping sometimes past noon on weekends! But it’s not about jogging every morning or writing for an hour before you eat breakfast. If that’s your thing, go for it. But if it’s not, my point isn’t about what you do but that you keep it consistent.
A morning routine sets your day off on the right foot and makes you feel content and focused. But moreover, it signals to your brain that you’ve started your day and you’re ready to go. When you hang out on the couch getting sucked in by Instagram for 45 minutes – just me? – you’re telling your brain it’s not time to wake up and do anything yet. When you develop a firm routine, even if it includes a few minutes on social media, that you do every day then it’s a lot easier to get yourself into work mode.
My morning routine starts by climbing on the couch, immediately followed by my dog jumping on me with overwhelming excitement. Once I have her settled I pick up my cell phone and check for text messages, missed phone calls, and Instagram alerts. Then I play a cell phone game for 5 minutes. After that, I eat breakfast and read my book for 30 minutes and then open up my computer. Every day that I operate this way, I feel relaxed and ready to work when I pick up my laptop. Every day that I don’t, working is like pulling teeth for the rest of the day.
2. Get Organized.
Everyone’s brain works a different way. There’s no ”best way” to organize yourself. But if things aren’t organized, it’s impossible to get done what needs to get done, especially when you’re reviewing your business performance, planning for the months ahead, and making important decisions.
If you don’t know your ideal methods, take some time to try different tools. Just because there are lots of neat apps and digital tools out there, don’t forget about paper. For some people a paper system is the only one that works. As you start to see what works for you, write down these systems and set them in stone. Jumping from Evernote to Asana to Trello to the scrap of paper next to your desk to that fancy planner you bought in January is the worst thing you could do. Choose a solution for each aspect of your business and stick with it so you know what belongs where.
3. Do Monthly Reviews.
These will change your business. When you’re left to your own devices, you can go months without doing meaningful work – and your bank account will show it. But when you force yourself to look back at what you’ve accomplished each month, you are motivated to actually get things done so you don’t have to confront your own disappointed self at the end of the month. It’s brilliant!
Make a spreadsheet or a worksheet template you can fill in each month. Track anything you’re interested in, but don’t forget the essentials: website traffic, email subscribers, number of sales, income, expenses, major marketing, and if you did anything out of the norm this month (like launching a new product line).
In addition to filling in that report for yourself, reassess your goals. Are you on track? If not, you might want to realign your strategies or even change your goal. If you completed a goal, you’ll want to celebrate (yay!) and then choose a new goal. And you always want to be checking in to make sure your goals still fit with what you want out of your business.
4. Set Rules.
Don’t be a wishy-washy boss-lady. If you’re going to be the CEO of your business (and if you aren’t, who is going to do it for you?) you have to set boundaries. Having a morning routine, sticking to your organizational systems, and doing monthly reviews are all great boundaries for yourself. But you also have to have them for your customers. Try to make it clear on your website and in your order confirmation emails when it’s easiest to get in contact with you and how you want them to (is email better than Facebook or a phone call?). Make it easy for a customer to look up your policies on returns and exchanges and make those policies clear and firm. This is your business and no one else should be telling you how to run it just because you want to be nice.
You can also set rules for yourself around customer service, pricing, gifting and charity, and collaborations. If you’re disappointed every time you put your handmade soaps in a church auction, you can make the decision to say no next time. If you prefer to answer customer inquiries after dinner, only answer them after dinner. If you’re afraid of your work looking cheap, you can choose to not sell anything under $50.
5. Write a Business Plan.
Don’t run away just yet! I know the phrase ”business plan” conjures up images of 20-page reports, terms you don’t know like SWOT, and numbers. Lots of numbers. But a business plan doesn’t have to be like that. It can be simple, quick to create, and (dare I say) actually helpful.
Take a day out to actually look at your business from the sky. What’s your long-term vision? How are you going to bring in money? I can’t tell you how many creatives tell me they’re not even sure how much money they want to make. So sit down and figure out how much money breaks you even on business expenses, how much money breaks you even on living expenses, how much extra money you would like to have for fun things. And, please, pick out marketing strategies ahead of time so you’re not trying every new trick the gurus write about.
With this plan, you can keep yourself on track and focused. You’ll make a lot more progress knowing where you’re headed and how you want to get there. If you need help figuring out how to write a business plan, what else you should put in one (without it getting all stodgy and corporate), and how to use it, you’re going to want a copy of my new mini-course The Artist’s Business Plan
. I’ll walk you through it so it’s actually a little fun and you’ll get it done in a day! How’s that for simple?
Laura C George liberates and energizes artists who feel stuck, arming them with the knowledge they need to create a career that supports them emotionally and financially. Or, in short, she’s a business consultant for artists. You can find her indulging her sweet tooth and playing with her pup in the dog park. If you make art-awesomeness, pop over to LauraCGeorge.com
to learn how to build an art business you adore.