Have you ever had a project that you felt feelings of dread whenever it came to mind? I have. And it’s definitely not a fun feeling.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by how much work you had on your plate but still felt like you were barely able to pay the bills? Yup, I’ve been there.
Being an entrepreneur is NOT always easy. Sure, there are some amazing perks to working for yourself. But there are a lot of new situations we must navigate and lessons we must learn in order to maintain a successful business – while also living a balanced, happy lifestyle.
I’m one of those people who wants to do so many different things that I tend to pile much more on my plate than I can actually handle. Because of this, I really have to stay mindful of what my priorities are – not just in business, but also how it relates to the everyday life.
Recently, I’ve started so busy with paid work that I haven’t had time to focus on other areas of my business, such as blogging and networking. I’m not complaining – getting paid to do what I love is a beautiful thing! But it’s also important to me to write for my blog, deliver on my promises of sharing tips and inspiration with my readers and networking with potential clients online.
I started to feel overwhelmed – between the paid work which I held as priority number one, and “all of the other stuff,” which I felt guilty for not maintaining consistently.
That’s why I’m SO grateful to my friend and life-coach, Meg Haines, who recently helped me gain a LOT of clarity and direction. She asked me a number of questions, which really help to break down what had led me to my current state of overwhelm and also steps for taking more control over the state of my business.
1. How many clients or projects do you currently have?
It might seem like a great thing to have a bunch of clients. For some people, that may be true. For others, not so much. When you start to break down how much time you want to be able to dedicate to each client, you might realize that less is actually more. In my business, I realized that having too many projects at once means constantly switching back and forth, making it more difficult to focus and to give each one the attention it deserves. If you feel like you have more clients than you can handle effectively, then it might be time to re-evaluate your offerings and pricing to better align with the vision you have for your business.
2. What exactly are you selling?
When I was asked this question, I realized that every single one my current projects had completely different scopes of work and payment terms. I have to admit, it can be a bit confusing to keep track of different projects and fee schedules when there’s no process in place. When there’s no consistency in the projects you take on, it can be hard to estimate the cost and timing for each one and it’s easy to end up in a situation where you’re doing way more work for less reward.
Are you reinventing the wheel for every client? Are you inconsistent with your pricing? Spend some time getting really clear about what services you want to provide. Create a specific package of these services and give it a specific price. Then stick to it!
3. Are there any clients who you would like to release from their contract?
If you’re an entrepreneur, chances are you’ve worked with at least one client during your career that was less than ideal. Examine your current roster of clients and projects. Notice if there are any in particular that you are feeling dissatisfied with. Maybe it turns out that you really aren’t the right fit for the client. Maybe it’s that the client is demanding a lot more than what your agreement outlines. If you’re loving all of your projects – that’s great! If you find that there’s a project you feel you would be better without, take the appropriate actions to release that client from their contract. Just be sure to handle the situation with grace and act according to your own values of integrity.
4. Who is your ideal client?
After you’ve asked yourself the first three questions, you probably have a better idea of why you’re feeling overwhelmed in your business. You might have a clearer idea of how to streamline your services into a specific package or process with consistent pricing. You might have even take some time to figure out what kinds of clients you don’t want to work with. The next step is to figure out exactly who your ideal client is. Perhaps that means people who will dedicate time to the project and communicate effectively. Maybe it means someone who will recognize the value of the work you do. Spend time getting clear about who you want to work with so that you can focus on positioning yourself in a way that will attract those kinds of clients.
5. Do you have a screening process for clients?
So now that you know who your ideal clients are, this is the tricky part…only work with those people! When it comes to taking on a new project, it’s important to remember what is important to you and the values of your business. A great way to screen potential clients is to have a standard set of interview questions. You can draw from past experiences to develop a set of things to ask. For example, I had trouble with a past client who was ridiculously unresponsive, causing the project to extend from 2 months to 6 months. Because of this, I always try to gauge how communicative a potential client is in the very beginning. Do they keep our appointments? Do they respond to emails in a timely manner. Are they open to scheduling check-ins ahead of time? Also, by being very upfront with your process and how you work, you’ll give the potential client an idea of what will be like to work with you so they can get a sense if it will be a good fit.
One of the scary parts of being an entrepreneur is that there is no guaranteed paycheck every two weeks. I totally understand how scary it can be to turn down potential projects. But when you come to a crossroads, just remember that if you take every project that comes along, you may be limiting space that could otherwise be open for your idea clients.