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There are two things every solopreneur can invest in their business: time and money. That’s what they say anyway, but there are actually 5.
The other three are, energy, effort, and focus.
When I started as a Virtual Assistant, I didn’t invest a penny into my business for six months. I still managed to sign enough clients to send my kid on a school trip to Iceland.
What I did invest into my business were the other four big items in the list; my focus, effort, time, and energy.
These investments don’t give the same dopamine hit as buying a new laptop or subscribing to a new CRM software, but your focus, effort, time, and energy make all the difference in turning those monetary investments into profit. And, they can make the difference between a flimsy side hustle and a sustainable, fulfilling business.
Your focus is what differentiates “spending” versus “investing” your time and energy in your business.
It’s about filtering out distractions and being purposeful in how you spend your time when you say you’re working on your business.
For example, you can try creating your Mission and Values while also binge-watching Bridgerton. Or you can invest your focus in your business by turning off the TV.
Another example; you can spend time aimlessly scrolling social media “for research” or you can invest your focus by setting a timer for targeted engagement with your ideal clients.
Can you see the subtle difference?
Tip: Create some parameters to guide your focus. If you love Instagram and use it to market your business, consider creating a separate profile for leisure scrolling. Or, book-focused engagement in your calendar as a recurring task, consuming content only after networking.
“I don’t have any time left in my day because I work full time, have to take care of the house, spend time with my family, and a half-dozen other commitments.” Sound familiar?
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, so it’s all about where you want to invest your time. This might mean taking time back from something else.
It’s not always easy.
Legitimately you might have a lot of commitments that you can’t give up. The key is to get creative.
Things like watching the kids, house cleaning and meal prep are good examples; these are things that must be done, but do you have to do them all the time? Ask your family or a friend for help. Maybe someone can take the kids for an afternoon once a week, or they can plan your meals to make prep easier, or help with the cleaning. And if they can’t help with the grocery shopping, maybe try ordering through an app like Instacart and getting them delivered.
You can also build habits and routines to help save some time. Once a week plan your outfits for the week, or stick to jeans and a top everyday to make getting dressed quicker and easier, skip straightening your hair, when you cook, cook double and eat leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.
If you can even find 30 mins a day to work on your business you’ll be a lot further ahead than you would be otherwise.
I’m not implying you’re not putting your all into your business. Of course you are. How your effort is applied, however, can often be more artfully done. Some areas need more consideration than others.
One of the biggest areas that should take all of your effort is in making an impression on your clients. This means doing things like following up with them, getting testimonials, and going the extra mile whenever possible to make sure you’re anticipating their future needs.
It also means not taking shortcuts when it comes to delivering the services you provide. What you do needs to be world-class, and that means doing the double-check even when you’re sure things are fine, testing things that should be flawless, and looking for solutions when something isn’t working rather than just shrugging and blaming the systems.
So, where do you pull back on the effort? Again, there’s likely lots of little places where you can take shortcuts in your day that no one but you will notice. Do you wash your hair every day? Try using dry shampoo on alternating days? Are you someone who washes the front of your cupboards every day, whether or not they need them? Maybe you can do it twice a week or as needed.
There will be a point in the day where you’re typically full of energy. For some it’s the morning, others it’s the evening. Whatever time it is for you, that’s where you need to be working on your business.
The key is not to leave your business to last. It should come first, with everything else coming afterwards. Your daily life is going to come naturally, whether you’ve “run out of energy” or not – but if you try to work on your business when you’re spent, you’ll just end up staring at Netflix and getting nothing done instead.
But what if you feel “drained” every time you sit down to do certain things in your business? This might not really be about having enough energy; it might be fear interrupting your flow.
For instance, there’s a reason why new business owners tend to skip ideal client avatar (ICA) interviews and sales calls: they’re sort of scary. It can feel like you’re opening yourself up to judgment. Maybe you don’t like asking for favors or help or you feel like you’re being a burden on others. Maybe you don’t know where to start or you’re worried about making a mistake.
These fears are exactly the reason doing ICA interviews and sales calls are so important. How can you expect to be able to help others when you’re not comfortable asking for help yourself? How do you expect to sign higher-paying clients when you’re so worried about getting a no that you don’t book any discovery calls? The information you gain from ICA interviews and client discovery calls (whether or not they sign on) will help to create the foundation in which your dream business can grow.
Tip: Acknowledge your fear or resistance to the task. Then start small. Ask one person for one interview and do it. Afterwards, celebrate that win and use the information you gathered to propel your business forward.
Bonus Tip: Get advice from your community. There are Facebook groups full of your ideal clients who will be happy to help you with your ICA research. The same Facebook groups are likely full of experienced VA’s who can answer any questions you may have about the process. All you have to do is ask.
Are you currently in the season of having more time than money to invest in your business? Invest some of your focus, time, and energy into finding your dream clients with my mini-course, The Epic VA’s Guide To Finding And Signing Dream Clients. All aspiring #EpicVAs can join for zero dollars.