Thursday, October 7, 2010

Working Smarter and Not Harder (Part 1) and why this advice has always pissed me off

I come from a long line of hard workers - people who worked hard for other people and usually didn't get the credit or the rewards their hard work merited.

I used to be a hard worker who worked for other people, too, and now that I am a hard worker who works for herself I have been struggling to translate my hard work situation into a smart work situation.

When a friend of mine advised me that I needed to spend more time working "on" my business rather than working "in" my business

(although I knew she was right)

it majorly irked me because what I heard was that I was not doing enough and the truth is that I cannot do anymore. I am already doing all that I can do.

(or at least this is what I told myself as I threw myself directly into that bag of Oreos while she told me exactly what I needed to hear but didn't want to listen to)

This is all alot of work and being the hard worker that I was raised to be - I do it.

But, I'm tired. I need a nap.

I am now ready to work smarter and not harder, but have an uneasy feeling that this work smarter thing is either a bunch of bull or something that could work for other people, but will not work for me.

The conversation with my annoying smart friend got me thinking about how I offer things in my business - I make 100% of my money creating things with my own two hands and selling them.

Every piece I make is made one at a time. There is no option to make something once and then replicate it in any way that is easier than producing it the first time (like a photographer can do with their photos, for example). So how will this work for me?

I once had a job where I was expected to manage people without knowing much about the jobs those people were performing - the idea behind this was that managers could not be doing non-manager work if they didn't know how to do it, since many managers, who had been "promoted through the ranks" from other positions spent a great deal of their time doing their employees work for them, putting out fires and basically "doing" the processes they were hired to manage.

At the time this seemed like a bad business model to me, although I now think there are things that can be learned from this mindset as a business owner.

So, how does this work smarter, not harder model fit into my handmade business? Are there ways to reduce my workload through better prioritizing and delegation,

(of course, this would require someone to delegate to, since Olive is about to go into winter - dangle from the arm of a chair over the heater - hibernation mode)


changing my pricing structure, creating passive income, creating recurring income, etc. These are all the things I am thinking about and going to post about over the next couple weeks. Hopefully, there will be strategies and systems that you can use to work smarter in your own business.

So, instead of getting annoyed when we are advised to work "on" our business, instead of "in" our business (this could just be me, though), we can develop the tools to shift our thinking about all of this, creating a new kind of work that creates a new kind of business - the kind of business where we get to work smarter and not harder or at the very least find some time to dangle over the heater ourselves once in a while.

Part II - The Strategy (next week)

8 comments:

Caroline said...

I so understand where you are coming from!
There just needs to be a “how to work smarter” (with out the idiot comments!!).
Somewhere inside of me, I think we as women should mentor other women!
Sharing the knowledge!
I believe a lot of it has to do with determination, luck, and above all believing in the something greater then ourselves!
And that something needs to be major! Big enough that you get up in the morning every day, day in and day out, loving what you are doing, so when your days stinks…
You reflect back on what or how to do it better! Then get back up again!
I found most of my day is wasted on small talk with people who will never buy anything anyway! Hours upon hours from people who are just lonely…
Who want to complain about everything.
I am talking they will just suck the life right out of you!
I now walk away from those draining souls!
The arts are different from most businesses…
the way; most of us don’t make enough money to live off of…
Some have second or third jobs! We do it for the love of it!
When some where in-between most artists give up!

First, be easy on yourself! Take a day off and not think about work!
Sometimes, for me a day away from work…
Does wonders!
Also…
A little reflection might help some? Critically looking at what you are really doing…
With a stern eye, look at where the results are paying off and where they aren’t!
Sometimes you need to get rid of idiot friends who waste your time! (he he)
Really look at what’s a waste of time and money?
You are extremely talented!!
Possibly doing the same thing you are doing to a different clientele base?
(An inexpensive option that worked for me was facebook on click through they allow you to set “who” you are marketing too, try two different age groups!
Now I sound like an ad!
Using more expensive materials for a higher priced line of jewelry…
All I do know… I love your work, and believe in you!
Times are hard for everyone, so I look forward to your new articles and views on working easier…
Ooops...I didn’t mean to write a novel to you.
Caroline

Catherine Ivins said...

thank you so much for taking the time to write this Caroline- I agree that believing in something bigger than ourselves is the key, too- and a critical eye toward what is and what isn't working - where I am spending my time and shouldn't be- thank you for your comment!

Gina said...

SO well said! I totally feel this way. So often I get stuck in "I have an order of 50 pieces to fill and need to create create create" that I forget to step back and grow the business.

While I do love creating, I realize that long term I need some other income streams in order to grow.

You are not alone in these sentiments...I know I hate hearing what I need to hear. I need to figure it out for myself.

Lisa at Lil Fish Studios said...

I relate to this, fully. I've been muzzling my former managerial self (like you, managing people whose work I wasn't trained to do) even though I'm pretty sure she'd tell me that there are better ways to do this. And I too need a nap. Can't wait to read the next posts.

Orion Designs said...

I confess that I don't really know how to work "on" my business. I've been at it for over 13 years and yes, I've experienced lots of growth. But since I can't pinpoint exact actions that made it grow, I must conclude that it was dumb luck.

I'm looking forward to the rest of your series on this subject!

Maryanne said...

I'm afraid you may become my smart (not annoying) friend! Great post! I'll certainly be back to read your follow up posts as I, too, need this advice!

alexkeller said...

i'm all ears!!!

Brenda said...

I am so right there with you. I've been working on creating additional income streams. I'm working on an affiliate program. I'm working on a new website that allows affiliate codes and downloads and such. I want to work on an ebook.

When???

I'm tired!

Can't wait to read the next in the series!

Brenda