Sometimes the best thing about being your own boss is the worst thing about being your own boss — you can work anywhere and set your own schedule.
When you need to make a call you, can pick up the phone just as easily at the beach as your home office, though you run the risk of getting sand in your phone. If a client needs something tomorrow, you don’t have to “stay late” to finish it; you fit it in sitting in the back seat of your minivan while waiting for your kid to finish her dance rehearsal. And when it’s raining and three boys need to burn off some serious energy, you can take them to an indoor trampoline mega center and still get that blog post done.
This is why I started this business in the first place. I wanted to make a real difference in my customers’ businesses, and I wanted flexibility and family time. The lure of the work-from-home business drew me to start a writing business of my own.
If you’re living the same kind of lifestyle, you already know its many perks. Like taking phone calls at the beach, meeting deadlines from your car, and writing articles at JumpStreet. (I got $6 off for liking and following.)
If pressed to find downsides to this entrepreneur lifestyle, only three come to mind (although they are gifts in disguise):
1. Since I’ve been doing this for eight years now, I’ve made myself unemployable in a physical sense. I’ll never commit to a nine-to-five workday, not in my own home and not in someone’s office. The idea fills me with dread.
2. The second is my fear that my kids will have a skewed idea of productivity. They are learning that (take your pick) I’m either always working, or never working. The “work ethic” my grandfather admired is neither obvious nor definable.
3. And the third slippery slope of working from home is the problem of setting your own boundaries. Because the fact is, you can always be working on your business!
You probably won’t get very far if you can’t focus on what needs to be done. So let’s talk about focus when you know what needs to be done, and you’ve chosen to do it in a less than optimal location…like I have today.
Sitting in Jumpstreet writing my blog. Can it be done? Why yes, it can. This blog post is proof.
The din is your friend. Dive in and blog.
Oddly, it’s the noisiest places that are the best. Next time you step into a large cavernous spaces with high ceilings and echoes, stop and listen. You hear everything, and…nothing at all. That vacuous, constant dull roar is almost like white noise. Auditory people may actually find it easier to concentrate in these environments because there is no single noise that catches your attention. Since you are immersed in sound, it’s fairly easy to shut it out.
(Kind of like when you’re underwater, you’re not thinking you’re wet. It’s only when you get out of the pool that it registers, “Hey, I’m all wet!” Ever notice that?)
If you really aren’t comfortable inside the wall of sound, then plan ahead. Invest in some noise canceling headphones and listen to calming music. Ambient sounds won’t touch you or your productivity.
When you can’t NOT look, put on blinders.
Visually, the bright colors and constant movement rattle your focus if you concentrate best in calm environments. Stay in your groove by positioning yourself in a corner where passing traffic is low. You could also turn a chair around and face a wall. Who cares what people think? You’re multitasking. You can always find somewhere out of the way of the most commotion if you take the time to look for it. These coveted spots are where you’ll find other people with their laptops open. Guaranteed.
Need blinders? Wear a baseball cap to block the visibility of almost everything. Or you could contact Joe Malia for one of his hoodie creations. Pull it over your computer to create an intimate workspace in the midst of chaos. Ahh, total privacy + zero visual stimulation.
Sometimes you just can’t avoid the need to produce some intense and thoughtful work. Entrepreneurs are always on some kind of deadline (or they should be), if they are serious about meeting their goals.
The alternative: Get the easy stuff done when you’re in a non work-friendly environment.
Creating content doesn’t have to be one of those intensely stressful items to check off your to-do list. If you have a plan and a content calendar, your marketing plan becomes a whole lot easier to manage.
With a planned-out schedule of upcoming blog post ideas, you could easily spend an hour or two filling in the smaller content pieces on the fly. There are many small jobs perfectly suited for those times when you know you need to get stuff done, even though your mind and attention are not at peak performance, like my two hours here at the trampoline place.
The key is identifying the content you can create without a lot of effort. The pieces that fit into the big picture, even though on their own you don’t consider them to be urgent and/or important.
For example, instead of writing a blog post or article, you could spend your time doing less strenuous jobs:
- Curating some content to share on social sites.
- Commenting on blogs.
- Finding appropriate pictures for upcoming blog post and Facebook updates.
- Scheduling tweets. (I love Buffer for this.)
These don’t require your undivided attention for long periods of time, so make the most of the times you find yourself in a loud, distracting environment.
A Content Strategy is the key.
Anything you get done here and now is something you won’t need to do later. Save the weightier chunks of content for a more focus-worthy situation.
There’s only one way to know what you’re doing and where you’re going: A calendar that holds all the important pieces of content you’ll publish over the next couple of months. As a small biz guy or gal, you really don’t need to look ahead much more than that. But you do need to know what your best clients are looking for at each step of the buying cycle. Do you have something they can use as they are just taking stock of a new problem? Do you provide insight when they start comparing prices and solutions? These are questions that you tackle as you put together a strategy and content calendar that address the unique needs of your buyer.
You want to be there for them every step of the way, not just waste their time with any old content published willy nilly on any channel. That blog post you’re writing in the hurricane of busy-ness and “real life” is much easier when you know what you need to say and the precise words to say it. The keywords have already been selected, and the main ideas are in place. Now it’s merely a matter of filling in the details with stories and information you know very well.
I love people and all the wiggly warm fuzzies, but the scientific side of me knows it’s only logical to have a roadmap. I don’t have time to figure it all out on the fly — or guess!
With a strategy, your blog post practically writes itself. Without one, you stare at your laptop for hours with nothing to say.
This life you’re choosing is in constant motion. As a small business owner you get to live it your style. It’s all you, baby! Whether you prefer to get everything done in one designated spot, or if, like me, you take it on the road many days; you are the choreographer of your own beautiful life and business. With a little planning, a strategy, a content calendar to guide you, and a willingness to bust out some content right here and now — wherever that may be — you will keep all those balls in the air and successfully connect with your customers and clients.
Here’s a shot of the boys playing bouncy dodgeball. I stood and watched them for awhile…awesome! If you want the freedom to do the same, keep the helpful, valuable content flowing to your customers and clients, and run your business all at the same time, you can do it.