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A few months ago I started a new series called Business ramblings, where I shared my thoughts on my first 4 years of business and how things have changed from the first year. There were many points that came up from the post and many areas covered so I thought it might be a good idea to go back and look at some of those points in more detail. Last time I talked about Social media and talked you through my thoughts on how it had effected my business sand how much time I used to spend on it Vs how much time I now spend on it.
Today I wanted to look at two of the points I brought up in my original post; Taking on less bookings and not feeling guilty about taking time off.
These two points really go hand in and hand and in turn all go back to getting your work life balance in check, (something admittedly I am still trying to figure out)
Now this may sound like a strange concept, surely if you’re self-employed you need to take on every job that is offered to you? Wrong! And yes I learnt the hard way. In my first couple of years of working as a wedding planner all I wanted to do was get work and prove to people that I could do the job I was telling people I did. This of course is only natural, when you start out you are hungry for that order, for that booking, all you want to do is get your first bit of work in and get paid for it. Doing a good job for people obviously leads onto referrals with other people and in turn more work.
So off I went on my merry way booking up every weekend I had free. By my 2nd year of wedding planning I had 20 weddings to take on in one season, now any other planner’s oat there will know what a hard job that is. Some were on the day jobs, some were partial planning, some were full planning, so all had varying levels of responsibility. What I hadn’t done though was really work out my true value and price myself accordingly. Again this is only natural in your first year or two in business. I also worked out a deal with some venues where I worked at a discounted rate, I was there go to planner but I did it at nearly half my normal price, what seemed like a good idea at the time, actually wasn’t!
By the end of the season I was dead on my feet, yes I had got a huge amount of experience, which then led on to me getting more bookings the following year, BUT because I had offered a lot of the work out at a discount I hadn’t made half as much money as I should have done.
Basically I didn’t value my worth; I hadn’t factored in how much my hourly rate was and stuck to it.
So what did I do? I sat down worked out some sums and I put my prices up. I figured if I could get paid more for each job I took on I wouldn’t have to do as many jobs and be able to give each of my customers a much better service! I’d have more time and my customers would be happier.
At first putting my prices up was really scary, I was worried no one would book me, what if I’d overpriced myself? But you know what, people still booked and because I knew I was taking on fewer bookings I could then in turn be a bit more selective about the type of work I actually took on!
Suddenly I found myself in a much better position, I wasn’t scrabbling round for every last bit for work, I was sitting back and really thinking about the type of work I wanted and what was right for my brand.
From here, I carried out regular price checks and made sure my prices went up the more experience I had.
I am now in a place where I feel my pricing is reflective of my experience. I don’t give discounts and if people ask for one, I explain that they are paying for a service and if they pay less for that service, they get less of a service in return simple!
So this leads me onto my 2nd Point
Once you have your pricing right, you will find that you have two choices 1) work as much as you did at the beginning of your career but earn loads more money, or 2) decide on the wage you want to set yourself and give yourself more time off.
What I have learnt over the past 4 years is that you don’t have to work 24/7 to prove you are a success. I used to look at people who worked every hour and see them as business people I looked up to. I have always been a hard worker, always held down more than one job at a time and never slacked……..BUT over the last 12 months my views have changed.
As I mentioned in my first business ramblings post, I now look up to those people who manage their business but still take time away from it, they are the people who have sussed the work life balance! Success shouldn’t be measured by the amount of hours you work, but what you do with those hours when you are at work.
You shouldn’t feel judged if you decide to take a weekend off and spend it with your family or friends, or if you decide to take a day off in the week to go shopping, after all your self-employed that is one of the perks of the job after all! The flexibility you get from being self-employed is one of the benefits from working a normal 9-5, yes there may be days when you are in the office till 9pm but there should be other days when you don’t start till lunch time! And no one should make you feel guilty about that, especially yourself.
Personally I have gone from working around 100 hours a week, down to 80 and more recently cut it down to 70. I have now taken on an assistant which means slowly but surely my hours will get down to a more reasonable 40-50 a week. This doesn’t mean I am working any less efficiently, it just means I am more productive in those hours I set myself and it also means I get more time to do things I love.
Yes I still love my job but it isn’t my complete life, it doesn’t define who I am, and I will never let it be. When I turn my computer off and take a day off I don’t spend my time off thinking about work, do I heck! I switch off and enjoy myself. Does that make me love my job any less, does it make me any less devoted to Boho, no of course it doesn’t, it just means that I also appreciate those other things around me, my husband, my friends and family, my hobbies.
After 4 years in this industry I have learnt how important the things around me really are. Life isn’t all about work and how many hours you can do in a day. Life is for living, for enjoying. By being true to yourself and really valuing your own worth, you can take on more of the jobs you love and turn down the jobs you don’t, which in turn will free up your time and give you more of your life back.