When you first imagined starting your own business, you probably envisaged flexible hours, half-days, more than four weeks a year for holidays, the ability to earn what you’re worth, work-life balance, and doing something you love.
In short, you imagined a better life.
But for many soloists, this doesn’t match the reality. Most of us know all too well about the low income, long hours, and lack of holidays that can come with being your own boss.
Why does this happen? It’s because our businesses are too lean.
Here’s what I mean by ‘too lean’
Too often soloists set their sights on “supporting themselves”. In other words:
“I’d be happy if I could do what I love for a living, and just earn enough to pay my bills.”
The problem with this ‘calculation’ is it’s totally out of whack. It’s based on the cost of the bare necessities they need to survive: food, rent/mortgage, and other basic bills. That may be the cost of survival, but it’s not the cost of the better life they imagined!
When you set the goal of just supporting yourself, you make a miscalculation about the income your business needs to support your better life.
What’s the cost of a lean business?
If you have a lean business, you can’t afford time off, or a holiday, or to hire help, or to invest in the business. You end up with no marketing budget, no insurance, no Xmas party, no staff development, and you don’t get to invest in yourself (you never end up taking that life-altering week with Tony Robbins). You end up doing your own book-keeping, and your own marketing (Facebook of course because it’s free), instead of doing what you love.
What would a supportive business look like?
It’s the lioness that does the hunting for her family. She needs to find enough food for herself and her cubs, and also to satisfy the voracious appetite of the protector of her family, the male lion. In the same way, you need to find enough income to feed yourself and all those who support your business and your life.
What would it take to support your better life?
You might need a couple of staff to make sure you’re not chained to your desk 24/7, or maybe just an assistant, and you’ll need to be a generous employer at that, if you want capable and loyal staff. Outside of work, a personal trainer and a regular babysitter might be at the top of your list.
Once you can see why “supporting yourself” is just not enough, you can begin to make a better calculation for the income you’ll need to support your better life, and form a business model that will get you there.
How to get there
You may need higher profit margins, higher income goals, and higher sales targets. You may need more staff, more marketing, or a more valuable product or service. Perhaps you need to work (and save) a little longer in your day job and launch with a bigger budget.
But mostly it’s a fundamental realisation that you need more food to go around! You need to feed your accountant, your insurance agent, your employees or an assistant, and yourself so you can take a weekend off (or god forbid a Monday) without feeling guilty.
Your happiness costs more than food and rent
You are your own boss, and to be happy you need the capacity to be generous to yourself. Better pay, regular time off, and support (assistant, book-keeper, cleaner, babysitter) will make you happier. You’ll be a better spouse, parent, employer, and business owner, and you’ll have the capacity to be more generous to the people you care about (family, friends, employees, and clients).
But you can’t be generous if you don’t have much to give. So raise your income goals, adjust your business model, and fatten up your business.
If you had more time and money in your business, where would it go? An assistant? Payrise? Holiday? Salesperson? Babysitter? Personal trainer? Less overtime? Somewhere else?