Tough Love

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Hi! How are you doing with your quit time? Sticking to a quit time is much easier to do when you feel productive during your work hours. My next newsletter is all about making your work hours count - I’ve laid out for you what a typical work day looks like for me. I’ve listed several tips that will help you be more successful during your work hours and leave your work each day feeling accomplished so you can stick to your quit time!

But before I send that one out - I need to speak to those of you who are working from home. Those of you who have little ones running around while you are simultaneously trying to build your own business. Those of you who are preparing lunch for your kids while you answer client calls. Before I can share with you my tips on a successful work day - I need to speak some tough love to YOU. Are you ready?

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Just three short years ago - I thought I was doing what was best for my family and my business. I truly believed I had to take every phone call, answer every email, stay late or arrive early to accommodate someone else's schedule because I believed it was the ONLY way I was going to get their business. My daily thought was,  "If I don't say yes to every single opportunity then I will never have enough business and I will never be able to grow my business into a sustainable one to take care of my family."

My intentions were good. My heart was in the right place - but the truth was I had never been more wrong. 

This is going to sound a little harsh, but know that I’m saying it with all the love in the world because I have been there:

If you want to run a business - it’s time you start acting like an actual business.

Would you ever call your dentist for an appointment and say, “ummm...I have to work all day, can you meet me for my teeth cleaning at 8pm?”

Would you ever call Target (who closes at 10pm) at 11pm and expect them to answer your call?

Would you ever directly text message your doctor and say, “I am busy Monday - Friday, can you meet me for my appointment on Saturday or Sunday?”

NO! Of course you wouldn’t! You know why? Because those are legit businesses with legit business hours and business phone lines and...wait for it...BUSINESS BOUNDARIES!

If you want to run a business, a well-respected business - it’s time you start acting like an actual business.

Are you letting your clients set the boundaries instead of the other way around? Are they respecting your evenings with your family? It’s time to put you back in the driver’s seat of YOUR business.

While we all desire to have this, we don’t feel like we can. We feel like if we want to succeed then we MUST take every call, respond to every text, answer every email because we feel like if we don't - we will lose the business leaving us without enough. Let me just say to you now:  

Get off the hamster wheel! It will never get better if you continue this way. 

I believed by taking all the calls, I was doing the best thing for my business and ultimately for my family. I wasn’t. I’d like to share with you a few steps I took to get myself off the hamster wheel and begin running an actual business. 

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  1. Define your business hours:  I wrote down my ideal work day / work week. Once I became clear on what my business hours would be, I could then set those boundaries with my clients.
  2. Clear expectations: I make sure during my first meeting with a potential new client to educate them on not only what I do, but what I don’t do. I not only educate them on everything floral, but I make it very clear during the first meeting that I am a mom and my family comes first. My office hours are Monday - Friday 9am - 3pm. They can reach us via email. Their email will be returned within 48 business hours because quite often we are working on client work and we want to give it the same focus and attention as we give YOUR job. They WILL NOT receive an email outside of the 9am - 3pm time frame. I WILL NOT meet with them after 3pm because I have three children and that is my time with them.
    Guess what the response is each time I clearly and kindly explain this is? Nothing but understanding and respect. Because I’ve been authoritative and clearly laid out what they can expect - they are good. In my line of business - floral and event design - it’s often the first time people are going through the process so they don’t know what to expect. I find, to be totally honest, they are just thrilled and relieved to have someone tell them how this process is going to work.
  3. Childcare:  Ok - this is probably the most important thing I can say to you in this entire newsletter….ready?  You will never do your best work with your children running around distracting you. WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE UP TO ACHIEVE WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE? If you really want to run a business while your kids are at home - let me encourage you by saying IT IS POSSIBLE, but you absolutely 100% need help. I am currently mentoring a young lady who has a four year old and a one year old AND is running her own interior design business from her home. I asked her how she could find six hours - just six hours a week to have child care. In order to achieve this, she needed to find a way to pay a babysitter $60 to keep both kids for six hours at her home. I told her to go through her 2016 bank statements and see what she was spending money on that she could budget towards this. (PS - when I first did this I saw that I spent nearly $800 in one year at Sonic on drinks - what?!!!) Anyway, she found a way! She has a babysitter come to her house every Tuesday for six hours. She doesn’t have her own office yet so she goes to the public library and works from a private study room (FOR FREE). You guys - she gets more work done during those six hours a week than she ever did trying to work all day every day while simultaneously taking care of her children. Another idea:  My friend, Lindsey, who is a successful artist living in Dallas, Texas - when she first started down this entrepreneurial road - she gathered a group of four women and each week, they would rotate - taking all the kids. That gave each of them one day of the week for three weeks with no kids and a full day to work on work. Only one day of one week did she have all the kids. By sacrificing one day of one week - she opened up three full days - FOR FREE! You are going to hear me say this a lot throughout the series so get ready:  WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE UP TO ACHIEVE WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
  4. Treat your home office like a corporate office:  I spoke some on this in the last newsletter, but it is worth saying again.
  5. Invest in a second phone:  I added the most basic phone to my existing phone plan - making it my business cell. No one I work with - no clients, no vendors have my personal cell phone. They only have the business cell number. During actual business hours - I turn it on. When my office hours are over - I turn it off. No work distractions when I'm not working. (When someone calls and it goes to voicemail - I have an outgoing message that kindly explains all of this so they know what to expect.)
  6. Admin email address:  Ok - this is going to sound a little shady, but stick with me. If you are someone who is meeting with clients and you are also the one billing and collecting payment from those clients - that can sometimes get a little awkward. Set up a second email address. I actually have an admin person (and she is everything!) but even if I didn't, I would have an admin email address. This is where you (but it doesn't necessarily appear that it is you) can send invoices and payment reminders. All of your fun direct client interaction about the "fun stuff" can come from your email address. This way it just separates the two and allows you to maintain a good relationship because you have an "administrative person" handling the business-end.
  7. Outsource household work:  If you can afford it, outsource as much of the household work as possible so you can spend your home and family time focusing on your children and spouse or significant other, or activities that enrich your non-work life. I traded in my Sonic drinks for Mary - a sweet lady who cleans our home once a month.

One of my favorite quotes is :

"A dream without a plan is just a wish."
- Katherine Paterson

Do you know accomplishing your dream and living the life you want REALLY is possible? Write down your dream. Write down the steps it will take to accomplish that dream (that’s called a plan!). Start at step one and each day work towards the next step. Break it down. Dreams don’t have to be far fetched and overwhelming. They are actually much more achievable than you think.

In the comment section below I would LOVE for you to share with us what changes you plan on making? What are you willing to give up to achieve what you want to achieve? What boundaries are you going to set in your business today?

Next time I'll be talking about how I make my work hours count. Hang with me - I promise the family stuff is coming!

Image credit: Lauren Kinsey, Weddings by Christopher and Nancy

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Welcome to the blog

Hi! I'm Jessica Zimmerman, top wedding planner and floral designer.

Born and raised in Arkansas, I’m a proud wife and mama to a 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old twin boys. A true believer in freedom, flexibility (and of course, incredible flowers), I’m wholly devoted to creating a life I love to live every single day–not just on the weekends. From travel to business to weddings, this blog is full of features designed to inspire other busy mamas (and businesswomen) to make a living from their passion without giving up their lives.

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