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How to stop babying your business

Baby On Board

My little bundles of joy are about to turn 13!

My daughter … and my business … are about to become full-fledged teenagers. I know it sounds cliché, but they really do grow up fast.

We got the call from the adoption agency during the same week I signed my first big retainer client in my business. Nothing like adding stress to the mix!

My business and my daughter grew up together

When we brought home our daughter we were ecstatic. We excitedly bought all the stuff she’d need: a stroller, crib, car seat, toys and many cute outfits. Our world changed forever.

The same was true for my business. I excitedly created a logo, built the website and got my business cards printed. I was full of hope for the future. Finally, I was my own boss. I had a say in every part of my business.

I believed I WAS my business; we were one in the same

Just as with my daughter, nothing was too much for my business to ask of me. I performed all my tasks with joy and optimism. After all, I was finally doing the work I wanted, when I wanted and for whom I wanted.

My clients were coming back. Heck, they were referring me! I believed the sky was the limit, until it started to fall.

My business started giving me attitude

It happened gradually and subtly.

My daughter started wearing makeup, spending hours doing her hair and starting to talk back. She no longer needed the blanket and teddy bear she slept with every night of her life.

My business was changing too. It was becoming difficult. No matter how hard I worked or how many hours I put in, I just couldn’t keep up with the demands anymore.

I was dropping balls, not following up with potential clients and sending out invoices late. I started to feel like a failure.

And then it hit me.

I had to change the way things operated

I couldn’t baby my business anymore.

If I wanted my business to thrive, and if I wanted to survive, things HAD to change.

The most important adjustment was my long-held perception of my business as an extension of myself.

I knew a separation was necessary.

Letting go is the hardest part

When I helped my daughter store away her teddy bear and blanket, my heart broke. I knew this was the beginning of a new path for her life. While it was exciting to imagine the possibilities in her future, a part of me longed to feel her cuddling in my arms as I rocked her to sleep.

Letting go of pieces of my business was difficult too, albeit on a different level.

To make the transition easier, I spent considerable time mapping out exactly how I wanted things to run. Doing this helped me pinpoint the repetitive tasks I didn’t like doing, but were essential to operating my business efficiently.

Once I had these things outlined and a system in place for each, it was relatively easy to figure out what I could automate and delegate.

The result was I gained time in my week to spend growing my business and working with my clients. Two things I LOVE to do.

A new relationship has blossomed

I took my daughter out for lunch the other day. We chatted about all sorts of things: her career aspirations, what her dream house will look like and the drama amongst her pals. You know, girl stuff. It felt strangely natural, like I was chatting with a close friend.

Today, when I look in her big brown eyes, I still see my little baby. Now, she’s just a bigger, smarter, lovelier version. I realize she has grown up.

The same is true for my business.

It will always be my baby on some level. That won’t change … and I don’t want it to. I’m proud of what I’ve built and the value I deliver to my clients.

What has changed is the relationship I have with my business. I no longer do everything. I now know the things I can delegate, automate and systemize. I finally feel like I’m ready to let my business grow up.

Here’s what I know for sure:

  • If you don’t change the way your business runs, it will run you into the ground.
  • You can’t give 100% to every area of your business 100% of the time.
  • Systems are crucial if you want control of your business.
  • Spending just a little time up front working on your business will pay off in the long run.

Your next step

Take a look at your own business. Find the areas where you’re spending too much time doing repetitive tasks. Map out the system for accomplishing that task, and then set out to either automate it with technology or delegate it a virtual assistant.  As Air Supply once said so beautifully: The hardest part of love is letting go!

Share you insights and comments below and let’s continue the conversation!

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