As a small business owner I have gone to all sorts of extremes to be able to wake up each day and pursue my dream of being an artist while also being at home raising my kids. There have been times where money has flowed almost effortlessly (after a bazillion hours behind the scenes sweating and praying and staying up late into the night for months on end) and there are other times where it’s taken some creativity to make things happen, pay off bills, get ahead and live another day to get to paint and get the luxury of working from home in my sweatpants with my favorite movies on in the background.
I think most often we just need to hear that it’s okay for us to want to make our dreams a reality. Whether it’s business, traveling, staying home with the kids, not staying home with the kids… that we can empower ourselves and set up our lives to make these things a reality. We don’t have to wait until someone “gets us” or validates us. If that dream keeps coming up, pay attention!! We are resourceful, we figure stuff out, we connect people, we do amazing things! Trust yourself and know that you can figure out details, work hard enough to overcome what you face and also give yourself permission to change your mind later!! Don’t live a life of regret because you spent it trying to be the nice person who gave their time and energy to everyone else. Be kind to others… but also be kind and honor yourself. Don’t wait for others to set boundaries to protect your time, your energy or your dreams. You have to do it!
If you’re already doing those things then stop reading. If you’re needing help on how to start making time, money and room for your dreams. Here are some nitty gritty details:
Is it money holding you back? I’m gonna get really real at the extremes I (we) have gone to. I share this because I know often it’s not a 3k difference to able to stay home with your babies, to buy supplies to pursue your dream or just to get some extra money put away in case who knows what happens.
- Get really real. We got really honest about every dime we spend, every month. This is not new to me, I have prints of spreadsheets from the 90’s still socked away. How fun to look back and reminisce about having rent that was under $600 and where money was spent. Now, all in one big excel spreadsheet I can look back at any month and see what was spent, plan ahead, see where we could have saved, etc. (not what you expected #1 to be from an artist huh…) I get a natural high from creating spreadsheets, I confess.
- Cut out the unnecessary stuff. Pick your battles. We rarely go out to eat. We hike, watch movies, listen to music, hang out mostly for free. We get a TON of movies from the library too. I ask myself before I buy anything that isn’t a necessity, “do I want this more than I want to be at home with the kids and working my own business or traveling?”.
- Dig deeper. I use lots of natural products. I started simple with laundry detergent a few years ago, I now use natural toothpaste, mouthwash, cleaner, sea salt spray, cleaners. This feeds my budget and also my ever growing desire for less chemicals in my life.
- Bulk cooking. Google, use pinterest or get creative with your favorite recipes and you can save big time in the kitchen. Saving both money and time and energy. Spending an afternoon prepping 30 meals is a drag, I admit. For over a decade I didn’t eat meat, so this was tougher to do then, trying to come up with meals for everyone. Do a search on bulk cooking or once a month cooking. I then use these recipes a couple times a week to fill in and it saves me a ton of stress. My daughter loves meat. My husband is indifferent but comes home starving after working long hours. My son’s diet requires no food colorings or wheat and very minimal sugar and he avoids most meats and I avoid wheat, grains and sugar. So cooking meals everyday for all these different eating styles is no easy talk. Cooking large batches of soups and chili help a ton and freezing them in small portions help a ton. You get the idea… this could very easily be a super expensive area of our life but even with buying mostly organic, I just cook a ton from scratch and get creative and use my crock pot more and more.
- Use the dryer less. It’s my goal each month to use the dryer as little as possible. Sometimes just to fluff clothes back up. Buy or build a drying rack. In our old house I got really creative and hung clothes near the fireplace. In our new house we have a laundry room now; wahoo. We nailed tons of nails and screws going up the stairs and have a place to hang hangers with shirts on them so this helps us dry almost all our laundry for FREE.
- We keep investing in LED lighting, turn off lights in rooms we aren’t in and are diligent about not wasting electricity.
- Interest rates – in our new house we were able to get a 15 year mortgage for over 3% LOWER than our mortgage on our last house. This alone will save us over $50,000! HUGE savings. While we don’t see the difference each month necessarily since our payment is about the same as it was; we know that 100 bucks a week that used to go to interest now goes towards our principal. This is so huge.
- Alternate energy – this is a whole other area but if possible find ways to incorporate alternative energy. Out here at our new house we were able to purchase a wood burner for outside. On the 6 acres we live there were more than enough trees already down waiting for us to get us through this winter. So thankfully after buying the wood burner and outside of the very small electricity to run our boiler system the rest of our heat is free. (just lots of family time gathering wood together). Wind, solar, turning off the lights to save what you can… it all adds up.
Those are just a few ideas. Mostly it took being all focused towards the same goal, giving up on having new everything. I really pick when I need new clothes, mostly the kids where consignment or g. sale clothes. Name brand, cute clothes for way cheaper = more money to build a business.
Is it Time you’re needing more of?
Many of the business courses I’ve taken and coaches I’ve hear recommend hiring out for everything that is less than what you want to make an hour. Pour all your time into your money making, genius zone. In theory this makes sense. However when you are first starting or until things are really flowing this can be a tough one. So I’ve really had to do things in phases, a few years ago when I had my art studio, a 2 years old and life was super full; that fall and winter I hired someone to come clean our home. During my busiest season… this was priceless. I also had interns come to my studio and help me on my website, marketing, stuffing prints, etc.
What could this mean for you? Maybe start with the things that you despise, don’t let those things be the bottle neck in your business, instead hire those out. Then as you can afford, start with the things that cost the least to hire out to people that thrive in those areas. Don’t feel like you need to do that all at once, but definitely don’t feel like you need to do it all yourself.
For me I try to think in phases… either during certain busy seasons I might contract with people, or recruit interns. Or once you hit a certain income level then start contracting out certain services. For me this could mean having artwork packaged by a shipping company during busier times, paying people to stuff greeting cards or prints, put stickers on things. Or it could mean investing in a shipping scale and having the post office or shipping company pick up packages from your home or business.
What are you currently doing that could be slowing down your growth or joy? Or is there something you’re determined to accomplish but your lack of knowledge or time is holding you back? Or is there things in your personal life that you could delegate or hire out to get you more time or money to pursue your business? Working with other parents to carpool kids to practices, house cleaning, getting kids to do more around the house.
What ideas would you share?