I looked at my to-do list and immediately had a panic attack.
No really. I did. Just ask Steph.
Then I got on the phone.
Luckily I was home and not sitting across from a client thinking I had the flu. (I didn’t and I don’t think she knew that while I was smiling, I was internally freaking out, but yeah.)
If you’re feeling more exhausted and anxious than excited right now you’re probably a) a freelancer or small business owner b) a single parent c) a human d) all of the above.
Who did I call?
I called my backups.
At any given time I have something like 3 graphic designers, one collaborative traffic cop, two editors, and a handful of stellar freelance writers working on projects for me and with me.
Sometimes they get what Michael calls the,”K-EEEEEEEEEEP” call which is, “What’s your schedule look like and can you help me with this, uh, yesterday?”
I’m getting better at calling before “yesterday” was the deadline, and that’s what I want to write about today. (Because, guys, I’m human and you are too, and we’re all running successful businesses, but sometimes we look like a duck in water: calm body, frantically paddling feet nobody can see.)
2019 Goal: Build Your Bench
Most of the kick-ass individuals on my bench, my teammates, have been working with me for eight years or more. They are that awesome and I love them that much. And my clients love them too (whether they realize that or not). Because there’s no me without them.
You might think, “Well I don’t have that much work. I don’t need a bench.”
Oh, but you do!
What happens when you’re sick, or a loved one is sick or you want to, GASP, take a vacation? Who is going to keep your business going while you’re away? Who can your clients call so they have uninterrupted service?
What happens when an AMAZING opportunity drops into your lap and you really want to take it, but you know you need a backup to help do some of your current work? How can you seize the day if you’re about to seize up in despair over getting it all done?
What happens when you start a project and you find yourself in over your head? Do you have collaborators?
An article about the Colts football team that bugged me
I grew up in Indianapolis and so the Colts are my team. (Baltimore drama aside.) An article in the Indy Star talked about what it was like to be a player constantly called up, released from duty, called up, released from duty and on and on and on.
Coincidentally (or not), the Colts weren’t playing well that year. Lots of new players, lots of back and forth. Lots of trying to make budget or stay within payroll budget and active squad numbers.
K, I get it. The NFL has different rules.
I couldn’t help thinking, though, that if there was some cohesion, and people who had worked together for a while, who knew how to anticipate each other’s needs, that they’d have better results.
I’m not a football team owner, though.
I am a small business owner
And I know that the key to being able to help my clients and give excellent service is to have an excellent lineup backing me up, collaborating with me, and helping me.
My business is 10 years old this year. It started to really take off when I expanded my circle of subcontractors and collaborators.
My 2019 Q1 objective for my business is to get my new project management system up and running so that my team, who has been with me and backing me up, can grow with me and we can continue to provide excellent service. My goal is to never have to make a “KEEEEEEEEEEEEP” phone call again. (Life happens, but I’m going to do what I can to be even more proactive. I’ll let you know how it goes.)
My Challenge to You
Write down the services you offer.
Now write down ways you could expand those services with a trusted colleague.
Then plan to call them in the new year and talk about collaborating.
Bonus: think about who could back you up and be a resource for clients when you’re unavailable.Make a plan to talk with that person in the new year, too. I’ve learned about collaborating via the school of hard knocks, so in 2019, I’ll expand on some tips and tricks for collaborating successfully and some pitfalls to avoid.
Speaking of Collaborating, I’m cooking up a way to help you get more business next year and it’s a collaboration with my friend and colleague Monica Hemingway of Green Industry Marketing.
Bookmarks of the Week
Online color inverter
Let’s say you have a .png graphic that’s white and you need it to be black. This tool will do it for you.
We Grow More Than Collards
An important piece from my friend and colleague Teri Speight.
My new book that came out yesterday
Fun winter projects ahoy!
Business Tool Roundup
The winter issue of APLD’s The Designer. Page 20 is a big list of business tools with links. (And there’s a great book roundup in there too.)
Thank youBefore I sign off (The Garden of Words is closed December 22-January 1), I want to say thank you.
Thank you to my clients. You are the best in the world and I mean that. You’ve let me into your businesses and allowed my team and me to help you grow and that is a tremendous privilege.
Thank you to my helpers: Steph, Billie, Susan (who is going to kill me for not sending this to her to copy edit), Nathan, Jenny, Michael, Jewels, and my CW group. There’s no me without you.
Thank you to you: my email readers. I love getting to share my stories with you and I love reading your stories in return.
May all of you have happy holidays or, at least, some rest and peace.
Love to you all,