Some big thinking for the summer
Do you ever find that a trip away, or just a complete digital detox, can inspire some seriously big (and scary!) ideas? Ever since I returned from New York I feel like I have literally been full bursting with inspiration. And I find that taking some proper time out over the kids holidays is an essential part of me running a successful business. This year will be no different. For six weeks, from 22 July until the kids go back on 6th September, my focus will be all about them.
No business planning. No writing. No client projects and definitely no email. The out of office is going on. I'll check in once a week but that's it. My social media will also grind to a halt.
I'm in awe of anyone who can juggle both but for me, I need that total mental switch off. I want to focus on the kids; have fun with them, mess about with them, let the world go by slowly and explore with them without agenda or rush. They grow up so fast and it's important for me to just shut down the work. And yes, I do realise that I'm very lucky that I've created a business that lets me do that.
And so for the next couple of weeks life is a little flat out. Those of you following me on Instagram will know that as well as the usual end of term mayhem I also have (quite literally) a wall of stuff to complete in less than three weeks. It's the stuff of nightmares, but it will all be worth it ;-)
For the past two years, I've deliberately kept my business as small and manageable as possible. I was determined to keep things below the VAT threshold until Poppy goes to school next September so that my work didn't impact too much on my time with the children.
Also, having run a very big business before, and juggling all the cashflow/ VAT/ overheads that come with that, I just wanted to keep things simple.
This year, however, I've found that balancing my workload so that I could say 'yes' to as much as possible without tipping over the threshold totally stressful. I've got to the point where actually, not being VAT registered is holding me back. I ummed and aaaahed for months. Worrying I was going back on my plan, worried work would take over my life, but also frustrated that I was turning so much down.
I spoke to my lovely friend Elizabeth, who knows all about how important it is to me to keep things manageable and she said something so, so wise that I wanted to share it with you. She said:
By keeping your business small, are you keeping your creativity small?
And of course, I had to concede that it was having an impact. Which meant that stepping up a gear was a no brainer really.
Now that the lid of VAT has been lifted, I feel like I can think so much bigger and more strategically. I can launch that retreat, run more workshops overseas and launch workshops online. I found it so frustrating having to turn down projects simply because I couldn't take on any more paid projects without tipping over the threshold. Now I can and I find this so exciting! I still need to be very selective about what I do commit to because I am so limited on time, but at least that's my only limit!
The knock on effects of thinking bigger
Excitingly, now I have the freedom to grow my business, I'm treating it like an actual business. I'm investing in things that I know will help me achieve my dreams. And I'm thrilled to be working with the wonderful We Are Branch on developing the Brand Stylist brand identity.
I'll share more on that project in the autumn but it's liberating being able to share the responsibility for what I'm doing with someone else. I love having another set of eyes and another intelligent mind on my projects and I cannot wait to show you what they are up to; they are very clever. Here's a sneak peek of Shauna's mood board...
If you're worrying about juggling time off and work this summer, how's this for an idea. How about switching off those emails, switching on your auto response and taking a proper digital detox. Rather than worrying about doing a half job at every level, just give yourself the freedom to forget about work and relax.
I realise that for some of us, we have commitments at many levels and a complete switch off isn't possible. Six weeks off takes planning well in advance. But if you have a holiday planned, how about promising yourself that you'll step away from your email and social media just for that week or two? The world won't stop turning, your followers will still be there when you get back and you'll be a much better entrepreneur for it...
What do you think? Are you planning on taking time off this summer or will you be trying to balance business as usual?