Hi, I'm Ashlie. Owner and lead designer at Wolf & Willow Design! I'm a 12 year corporate accountant turned full-time designer helping other small-business entrepreneurs chase their dreams. I'm also a wife, #girlmom, and Air Force veteran.
Tips, tools & resources for your business.
Sign up here!
I’m entering year two as a full-time business owner, and this is the most significant distinction between my current state and that of 2021: I’ve learned a helluva lot over the last few years!
I’ve had a lot of good intentions that quickly went out the window faster than my diet when someone shows up with french fries.
I’ve had tons of good idea fairies that are to this day gathering dust in a cabinet buried deep in the depths of my brain.
I’ve set a lot of expectations for myself and my business that over (surprisingly short periods) of time, quite frankly became antiquated and unattainable.
Most of all, I’ve come to realize that being an entrepreneur is simultaneously the best career move I’ve ever made for myself and also the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Yup, even compared to parenthood (most of the time anyway).
So, for the first time in 4 years since the “I’m going to start a business” bug bit me, I’m taking some time to intentionally reflect on the last year and map out what I’m going to do differently in 2023 to nurture my business, maintain my sanity as much as possible, and serve my community better.
Have I ever mentioned that I used to be a planner NERD? Like, no joke…I used to keep anywhere form 3-5 planners at a time. One for the office, one for family stuff, one that doubled as a wallet + on the go planner…you get the idea.
I was known as the queen of being on top of things.
And then I started a business.
And now I have countless planner guts, stickers and plastic spiral thingies dying a very slow death in the living room console cabinet. There’s literally a binder in there with dividers separating my meticulously categorized stickers 😳. Some may say I had a bit of a problem.
But for some reason none of those tediously painstaking habits carried over into my journey of entrepreneurship.
Now…I like to call what I experienced after leaving my full-time job cold turkey and jumping into building my business ‘uncorporate whiplash’.
In other words, I went from being told what to do, when to do it, how to do it and even what to wear WHILE doing it…to being able to do whatever the hell I wanted. Suddenly, everything was on my own terms. And while that’s exactly what I wanted when I decided to embark on this journey, I entered a bit of a rebel stage.
I had spent so much of my life planning that when I didn’t have to answer to anyone anymore…I just couldn’t be bothered. Or didn’t want to really.
And while I was in the very early stages of business, it really didn’t affect me all that much. But once I started getting calls, requests for meetings, doing design work as a sub-contractor, and becoming aware of how much running a web design business doesn’t actually involve web design, suddenly my schedule started spinning out of control.
Enter the ‘I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing right now’ phase of entrepreneurship.
That led to an entire year of being caught in this endless loop of: mad dash to get ahead for a few weeks, be lulled into a false sense of being on top of things, then realizing I was supposed to have a new blog/IG post/newsletter post go out that day annnnnnnd the vicious cycle continued.
After admitting to myself halfway through 2022 that scrambling isn’t an effective strategy, I knew in 2023 I wanted to commit to really honing in on my process, organizing my task management and getting my shit together. Ya know, like using all those automations and workflow capabilities that I’ve neglected in all these softwares and programs I pay for. “Why set up workflows in your CRM when you can just manually send a thank you/confirmation email every time someone books a call with you?” Said no entrepreneur ever.
Will I ever go back to using five planners at one time? Proooooobably not.
Am I going to actually use a calendar this year? Abso-freakin’-lutely.
At the outset of this journey, I pledged to champion wellness and to avoid burnout. To that end, I’ve endeavored to take time for myself as often as possible – whether it be days off from work or weekends spent away from my desk; even if it meant foregoing social engagements altogether!
Something I neglected to share outside of my inner circle is that I discovered a spot on my cheek late last year that made me worry a bit. A small, scaly patch that I mistakenly took for dry skin kept coming back. (Note to self: do not continue to try to dermaplane a patch of dry skin that doesn’t want to be dermaplaned).
One nerve-wracking trip to the dermatologist confirmed I had a pre-cancerous spot, which has a 1/5 chance of developing into cancer in the future. They treated it in office and I have since been given a clean bill of health for now, but it really made me contemplate how much self-care I’ve neglected over the years.
I mean, who really thinks about getting skin cancer in your 20’s and early 30’s!? Not this pasty white ginger, obvi!
In general, my overall wellness and mental-health had really taken a beating over my last few years in corporate and then my time in the military. Leaving all of that behind to start my business was my first big step in prioritizing self-care.
But it’s easier said than done to keep up with all of those promises you made to yourself when you thought you were going to have all this free time.
Start a business, they said. Make your own schedule, they said. It’ll be fun, they said!
Ok, ok. So it is fun. But it’s damn hard too! Especially in the beginning during the what I like to call ‘starving artist’ phase of building a business. Everything feels like it’s riding on your ability to succeed as an entrepreneur while still doing all of the things everyone expects of you, and even what you expect of yourself.
Talk about pressure! So as hard as I tried, self-care has been one of those things that while I have gotten more mindful of, still gets neglected at times.
And that’s ok. I’m a work in progress. But as I sat down and worked through updating my processes, I made sure to put together a more sustainable battle-rhythm to make sure I leave more time for myself.
My favorite ways to practice self-care?
My closest friends will tell you, I’m a natural born storyteller.
Starting a conversation with me is likely to end up with a story that begins something like, “Ok, so what happened was…”
I get to the point eventually, but from what I’ve been told, what I feel like are just small daily occurrences in my life end up sounding like something worthy of a Friends episode. What I suck at, is figuring out how to impart that storytelling essence into written words.
Like “Hey, wanna hear about how I got lost going the wrong way down a one way street in my hometown!?”
I promise it’s really funny if I tell it in person! Buuuuuuut…who cares?
I really think that with all the antics that go on in the Thompson household, we could have our own reality show. (Keeping up with the Thompson’s, anyone?)
But it’s so normal to us that I don’t even think about sharing it. So this year, I’m making it my mission to write down some things at the end of every day that could benefit my community in some way. Even if it’s just to get a good laugh.
And, it’s a great reminder that our life is, in fact, not as boring as I think it is.
Whew! This was a tough one!
Knowing when to raise your prices and feel comfortable with it is so difficult, especially in the first few years of owning a business.
“Do I have enough social proof?”
“Am I really providing enough value for this price point?”
“I really want to stay competitive in my market!”
All valid concerns, might I add. To be honest, I really got tipped over the edge to feel confident enough to raise my prices after going to Showit’s Spark Conference last year. I had the opportunity to meet with some amazing OG Showit Design Partners and I consistently got the “you need to raise your prices” side-eye. Validation from peers is a powerful thing, folks!
So yes, I may edge out of being in the price range of some people that may have been willing to work with me in the past. And that’s a scary thing!
But it’s also super rewarding to recognize that you’re at a place where you can turn down work. (It means you’re slowly emerging from the ‘starving artist’ phase I mentioned earlier).
Now, I can take on fewer projects while making the same, if not more, money AND feel like I can put so much more time and value into those clients and projects.
Long story short (see what I mean about telling stories 😂): 2023 is the year of getting my shit together, and hopefully helping you along the way.
I hope this post has been helpful and/or provided some handy insight into why I’m making some key changes to my business and giving myself a nudge in the right direction. I’m excited to see where this year takes me and I can’t wait to bring you all along with me!
Got questions or just want to chat? My DMs are always open.
Till next time,
Till next time,
Take a beautifully designed, expertly crafted, easy to customize Wolf & Willow template for a test drive absolutely free.
Book a complimentary consultation call now to discover how we can help you kick the overwhelm, build a brand and website to delight your ideal clients and book more sales, and finally get back to doing what you love in your business - all while making more money.
let's do this!