The whole point of having a portable business is to be able to have sustainable revenue AND freedom and flexibility to thrive in your life on the move. However, many solo entrepreneurs end up feeling overworked and overwhelmed.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it should NOT be that way.
In this blog, I share what I have learned from making big shifts in my own business and what I am now teaching my clients too. You can have a business that works for you, not the other way around.
This blog article is a summary of the related podcast episode.
Let me start with a confession because this is something that I have been guilty of in the past. We are so motivated and care so much about our businesses and our clients and we have these big goals that we want to achieve that we keep pushing and pushing. And then when we reach our goals, we’re exhausted, depleted and even discouraged, so we let things drop. And then we pick up and go full speed again. This pattern can continue for years!
We need to break this pattern for our mental health and well-being. In previous Tandem Nomads podcasts, I have talked about the psychological and mindset aspects of dealing with the mental health impact of entrepreneurship. Still, in this blog, I want to focus on something more practical.
There is something very simple you can do to be in control – you can embrace the seasons of your business.
No matter what kind of business you have, there will be seasons. There will be ‘high’ seasons when things are very busy or when you are pushing very hard with new launches, sales campaigns and new product launches. And then there will be ‘slow’ seasons where perhaps your whole industry slows down or your community is focused on other things and not as open to buying. You can also go beyond the seasons that might naturally occur in your business and create your own seasons.
Embracing these seasons just doesn’t happen. You need to be very intentional about this and it requires some self-reflection and planning. Here are the three things you need to do to make the seasons work for you or create these seasons and get a better balance between working and resting.
1. Reflect on the seasons in your market
Are you in an industry where the summer is very calm or is it a busy time? Is your business impacted by school years? When does your ideal client make their purchasing decisions?
To answer these questions, you need to know your ideal client and how they behave. One great way to find out is to get on a call with your clients and potential clients and ask them when they make their decisions. You can also observe your competitors and look at when they focus their attention on sales.
For example in my business, I notice that my potential clients start thinking about their goals for the future in the last quarter of the year, often starting in September if that is when their kids go back to school. However, I notice that this is shifting due to the global pandemic. Our world is constantly changing and that’s why it is important to constantly run your market research or surveys to understand the cycles of consumption.
2. Focus on your needs
You need to be proactive in looking at your own needs, your family’s needs and the lifestyle you want. Don’t forget to include your dreams! Perhaps you want to take a few months off work. Perhaps you have a family member who needs your support. In order to be able to do what you want and need to do beyond your business, you need to plan.
To kickstart your planning, I recommend creating a vision board for your business, if you haven’t already. What does it look like if for one month you go slow and in another month, you are willing to push? When you are planning your vision for the year, build in time to recuperate and recharge. When I talk about these times, I don’t mean that you take a complete break from your business. I am talking about the rhythm and pace with which you work. This is about creating seasons in your business.
This means that when you build your plan for the year, you first mark the seasons created by your customers and the market. Then you look at when you want or need your own ‘slow’ and ‘high’ seasons. I always say to my clients that when they plan their year, they should plan their holidays first! It doesn’t have to involve travel but it should involve stepping back from the business. Then look at the times when you just want to take it slow.
By taking it slow I mean when you’re continuing to work on your business but you won’t be in a major promotional phase, you are not pushing hard but you are doing the essential day-to-day things and/or working on some of the big picture, behind the scenes things at your own pace.
Going slow allows you to manage your energy, perhaps working fewer hours or working the same hours but with less intensity. These slow seasons can also be a time to reflect on things that you don’t often have time for when you are working at full pace. These are often important tasks and opportunities for growth but because they are not ‘urgent’, they don’t get done during busier periods. This is your time to work on your business, not in your business and so although you are recharging, you can still be taking steps to grow your business.
One thing to always remember is that things change. You need to be ready to adapt your plan and be flexible. However, you cannot pivot effectively if you don’t have a plan to begin with. If you would like more help on how to be flexible with your planning and goal setting, then check out these episodes in the Tandem Nomads archives.
One of the amazing things about having a portable business is that you can control the seasons and how your run your business. It also means that you can adapt when things are tough. Sometimes, the need to find a slower pace in your business is driven by very difficult circumstances. I have shared in the podcast about my decision to slow down in my business to spend time with my father when we realized that he did not have much time left. While I hope this is not something you have to deal with, I want you to know that it is possible to design your business to give you time when you need it. I ended up reducing my working time by 50% throughout the year and still managed to grow my revenue. It is important to make sure that your business is not stopping you from showing up for others or from taking care of yourself so that you can support your loved ones.
As you reflect on the seasons in your business and your needs, it is important to check that they align. You will face some real challenges if your business is not aligned with your needs. You may need to redesign your business, rethink your target audience or pivot your business model. You can also try to follow the seasons in your business but create small ‘buffer’ windows of time to try to prevent you from becoming burnt out or overwhelmed.
If you want to know about how to align your business to your needs, this podcast episode may help
3. Plan ahead
You need to plan ahead if you want these seasons to work for you and your business. For example, in order for me to have my ‘slow’ seasons, I need a transitional month between my ‘high’ season and slowing down. This allows me to prepare for my slower season. This means that although I won’t be taking on speaking engagements or launching anything new, my business keeps rolling. The podcast, the newsletter, and social media continue as normal. My transitional month allows me to prepare everything that allows that to happen. I bath my episodes and I work with my team so that everything runs smoothly.
I think of this as being a little like a farmer. During winter, farmers prepare and protect their land to enable them to harvest later in the year. So you could be going slow but still be doing things to grow your email list, ready to reap the rewards when you launch during your high season.
I also recommend that you have some transitional time between the slow season and returning to your high season so that you can start with the right energy and foundations. A key part of this is doing some of the preparation work during your slow season rather than trying to do everything in a very short period. Ideally, your slow season should allow you to rest and recover but it should also be about building the foundations for your busier periods. It is the ‘slow’ season, not the ‘stop completely’ season! For example, if I know that I have a launch in September/October, I can slowly start working on the sales page, preparing the emails so that during the launch, I can focus on the promotion, communicating with the potential customers and nurturing those relationships. I also find that when I slow down, I have time to think and I have some of my best ideas!
It is really important to plan these times out – mark them in your calendar and commit to them. The more that you can see your plan, the better you will be able to adjust to changes too. You also need to plan your revenue goals and marketing strategies based on your seasons. Here is an episode that can help you do that
I hope this blog inspires you to think about taking time to go slow so that you can enjoy all the benefits of running a portable business.