Develop a Proactive Business Model
One of the leading causes of burnout in my clients is that they are operating a reactive business. They spend most of their days putting out fires and just trying to stay on top of the work that they’ve already done. This makes it particularly difficult to make positive moves forward and to do something as simple as taking a day off.
Reactive working looks a lot like responding to emails and the tasks associated with them right as you receive them, putting out fires, rushing to meet deadlines, working more so that you can stay on top of how much you have to do, taking meetings and then realizing you are over-scheduled, etc. Essentially, anything that sets the tone for your work day that isn’t you.
This is bad for business because it keeps you from taking steps forward in a positive way. It lowers the amount that you are able to get done in a day, leaves you with mounting anxiety and lowers your ability to be profitable because you’re so busy taking care of things you’ve already been paid for that you aren’t able to pull in new income.
I want you to switch to a proactive approach to your business. Anticipate the needs of your projects, your clients and your schedule and plan accordingly.
Having a proactive approach to your work life will create space in your schedule, lead to more satisfied customers and significantly reduce your stress levels. It is the key to a work structure that truly allows you to thrive as an individual.
In order to do that, you will need to do a few things:
1. Know what you want.
Truly know what you want your work life and your life life to look like. What would feel good to you? What schedule sits well with your life? What do you want more of? Less of? What would be fun? Plan for your best case scenario and start making moves to getting your work life close to that.
Over-communicate with your clients and potential clients. This is a HUGE one. So often business owners run up against the same problems time and time again and they spend a significant amount of time responding to that issue instead of just setting themselves up for success in the beginning. When I used to run social media accounts for people I quickly realized that there was discomfort around the fact that my voice wasn’t exactly the same as the voice of the person who owns the account. In the beginning this caused a lot of stress, and even lost us clients. Once I recognized that this was going to feel strange for everyone I created systems that set us up for success. I started interviewing people and asking them questions. I took note of the words they used most often and most importantly, I told them it was going to feel strange and how I recommended them handling it in the future. Most people just want to be informed. They want to know what to expect and what their role is in the situation. If they know that it’s not abnormal before they even sign on and you give them the tools for how to handle it, you are empowering them to trust you.
One of the biggest areas to over communicate in is email.If you aren’t going to respond to an e-mail within 24 hours, just shoot them a note and let them know that you see it and will get back to it as soon as you can. This puts your customer at ease and allows you the freedom to focus on your priority at the moment.
The more people are communicated with the more they forgive and the less reactive you have to be in your work relationships.
3. Set the tone for your work relationships.
It is pivotal that you have a killer on-boarding process. On-boarding is the email or series of emails that teaches your client what it looks like to work with you. You can inform them of what hours you are available for meetings, how long it takes for you to respond to emails, what method of communication works best for you and more. Communicate as clearly and quickly as you can. People like to feel informed, most people want to have a successful and harmonious experience with you. Give them the tools they need to do that.
4. Use your prime hours to develop your dream schedule.
Seriously, the more in tune you are with your prime hours and the more aligned you can be with those, the more productive you can be and the more satisfied with your day that you will be. If you are useless creatively in the afternoons but, you do just fine in meetings than consider limiting your meeting hours to the afternoon and keeping those morning hours sacred. There may be times that you have to make exceptions, but, set yourself up for the best case scenario and make a few exceptions here and there. That’s so much better than not setting the standard at all and operating on a schedule that isn’t serving you day after day.
5. Under promise & Over deliver.
This is one of my biggest secrets to a happy life and happy customers. Always undersell your turn-around times, your response times, what you are going to offer someone and then blow their minds with the real outcome whenever possible. As a photographer I used to tell clients that weddings would be finished editing in 3-months. Do you know how long it took me to turn around a wedding? 1 week for the full wedding and only a few hours after the wedding before I released a sneak peek! What this offered me was a bit of grace. If I finished the wedding in 2-weeks or even a month those clients were still blown away at how fast they got their images because they were expecting 3-months. My clients were happy because they knew what to expect and then I went above and beyond to do more than that expectation.
1. Choose one area to tackle today!
Is there an area of your business that you can adjust to be more proactive? What is something that you are regularly managing as a response instead of anticipating and planning for? Is there a common complaint? Is there an area that you can under promise and over deliver in? Just choose one today and implement a change!
2. Adjust your email habits.
Check out the blog below all about managing your inbox and begin making small changes in your e-mail habits today!