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.
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There are a lot of things that I’ve learned over the last four years as a solopreneur. And as the old saying goes, hindsight being 20/20 and all, there’s a few things I wish I could go back and tell my budding entrepreneur self all those years ago.
But there’s one thing in particular that I think was most pivotal in moving the needle forward in getting my business off the ground. And it’s probably one of the most controversial and difficult pills to swallow for aspiring small business owners. It’s so important that I wanted to dedicate an entire blog post to it, in the hopes that it will help you not only decide to take the leap, but to do it smartly and with confidence.
So what is it? Drumroll please….
I know, I know. You’re probably shaking your head, crying, screaming at me…all of the above even. Because the last thing you want to do when trying to start a business to make money is to spend money. Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes.
In fact, when I first started out, I promised myself and my husband (even though he would have let me invest in anything I wanted to chase my dreams) that I would only quit my 9-5’s reliable income if I could build my business and replace that income first. I have to chuckle a bit now about my blind optimism. My plan was to side hustle my way to a six-figure income so I could quit my six-figure corporate job. Right. 🤪
Needless to say, that’s not how it happened. That mindset ultimately led to many long days and nights, pulling my hair out, DIYing and spinning my wheels doing things I either didn’t enjoy or didn’t know how to do effectively. Can you say burnout?!
It allows you to continue trying to grow your business while keeping the passion alive by only having to focus on the parts of your business that you enjoy (or even just don’t hate). We learn very early on in entrepreneurship that starting a business means wearing all the hats. But you didn’t start your business to do ____ (enter whatever part of running your business you don’t enjoy). You started your business because you wanted to ___________ (insert whatever it is you do). But guess what…there are other people who are good at, and even enjoy, the things you don’t like or don’t do well.
Now, I also completely understand that not everyone has money just hangin’ around, waiting to be spent on your hopefully successful business. Please, don’t take all your savings or couch money and throw it into your business blindly and hope the spaghetti sticks to the wall.
Once you’ve committed to investing, it’s important to understand how and in what. We’re going to go step-by-step on how to decide what to invest in early on in your business.
This can include things like: get a logo, build a website, social media marketing, blog writing, Pinterest, keyword research, accounting, CRM set up, etc.
This allows you to prioritize your time and efforts. There’s a lot of things that you’d probably like to do, or would be nice to haves for your business; but right now in the early stages let’s keep it narrowed down to the bare necessities.
This will require some deep consideration. For example, if I had my way, the only things I would ever do in my business would be designing and writing blogs or talking to my followers. Setting up my CRM is something I am capable of doing, I don’t particularly like doing it, but I don’t hate it. SEO and keyword research on the other hand…bane of my existence.
Hint: there won’t be many. Showing up in pictures is a great example of this. Writing captions, sourcing images, posting on Pinterest…those can all be done by someone else.
We’re all about transparency over here, so here’s what my list would look like:
Design client websites – 1, Can outsource, Love
Client onboarding – 2, Can outsource, Meh
Create social media graphics – 3, Can outsource, Love
Write social media captions – 3, Can outsource, Nope
Honeybook set up/maintenance – 4, Can outsource, Meh
Weekly blog post – 5, Can outsource, Love
Weekly newsletter – 5, Can outsource, Nope
Schedule social media posts – 6, Can outsource, Meh
Monthly SEO & keyword research for blogs – 7, Can outsource, Double nope
Accounting – 8, Can outsource, Meh
Show up on social media – 9, Can’t outsource, Love
Based off of this list and rankings, I am able to prioritize not only what needs to be done for my business, but the best opportunities for outsourcing to keep you business running (or started) while avoiding that all too well known entrepreneur burnout. And in case you’re wondering, this list is spot on for how I run my business today. I currently outsource most of Wolf & Willow‘s writing to our fabulous in-house copywriter Hana.
Writing and strategizing for social media used to cause me so much anxiety and stress. I never realized until I outsourced it to an expert how much time it actually saved. Hana is able to capture my voice perfectly in a fraction of the amount of time it took me to even ponder over it. And the best part is, she enjoys it. One person’s dreaded task is another one’s passion!
But it’s also one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your business, even if you’re just starting out. By thoughtfully and strategically outsourcing, you can focus on your zone of genius and allow yourself to enjoy the journey of becoming a small business owner and give yourself the best opportunity to grow.
Start small, test the waters and outsource just one thing to start out. Figure out what works best for you and the stage of business you’re currently in. I promise, you’ll thank yourself later.
Still unsure or have questions about outsourcing? Send me an email or DM…I’m here to help!
Till next time,