Guest Post: Letting Go Of Control
We're happy to have Kelly Parker Smith from Hello World Paper Co. & Stamps writing for us today on how to let go of control in your business. She gives some great tips!
I know everyone is still on the “January goal-setting high” but I’m going to need you to set aside your to-do list, and your goal planner for just a sec so we can talk about letting go of control. I know, I know, as an entrepreneur you are all about being in control. You have your hand in every aspect of your business from customer service, to product development & design, to social media & marketing, to shipping, and even recycling and custodial duties. For most of us solopreneurs we are doing it all. However there will come a time when letting go of control is vital to the growth of your business. Yes, the only way your business can really grow to the scale you want it to be is to let go of the reigns just a little (or maybe a lot for some of you).
I am with you. My business grew so much this past year which is absolutely fabulous, but I was tired. I am one of those people that could seriously work on my business all day, every day and there would always be more to do and I love it, but that is not the life I want. I have a family to love on (3 boys and a husband), friends to hang with, tea to sip, and books to read. I need some down time too, so I had to let go of some control. To do that, I had to take a good hard look at what I could and couldn’t control and then make some changes. So what did this super organized control freak business owner do? I made a list.
What you can control:
How you react to situations. My mom always told me “It's not what happens that matters but how you react (to what happens) that matters.” So true Mom, so true, but I didn’t always believe it. I am an emotional person and I always let my emotions controlled me, but in the last few years of owning my own business I’ve really learned that it IS how you react to situations that will determine how they will pan out and my skin thickened. For example, when I had an unhappy customer in the past I used to get upset, shed a few tears, spend hours wondering how to handle it and truly put myself through agony for no good reason. Now, I handle the situation immediately by offering my customer some solutions for the issue they are having and then I MOVE ON. If they choose to take one of my solutions, great, but if not I cut my losses. I cannot control what this person thinks of me or my product no matter how much I want to. Not everyone is going to like what I am doing or what I have to say and that is OK. Once I accepted this truth and let go of the control, my work life became a lot less stressful.
Who you call for help. You are the boss. You get to decide who you will call in when you need reinforcements even if you are just starting out. The help can be the “pizza and beer” type of help, as in family and friends. Having the right people assisting you on that big project will make all the difference. When I’m overwhelmed with emails or I’m working on a new design, I call my mom or my bestie since they are both really good at writing and have eyes for design. When I’m overwhelmed with shipping, my husband or my 14 year old son gets the shout out, and when I need help with my website, a blog post, or social media I call in the experts. (I use Abagail and Emylee over at Think Creative Collective if you need awesome experts.) Having a team in my back pocket to rely on at all times has been a game changer for my business!
On the other hand, I DO NOT call in my fourteen year old to answer emails because he types at snail speed, nor do I ask my husband’s design opinion because he’s partially color blind. Calling on the wrong people can be counterproductive because you will want to maintain control and the whole point of having people help is to free up your time to do other things. You can not do other things if you are micromanaging someone.
What you can’t control:
How the world will receive your product or service. LET THIS GO NOW. You cannot control how everyone in the whole world will receive your product or service. Please stop trying to please everyone because it isn’t possible for anyone. Even amazingly fabulous wonderlands like Target, Starbucks, and Anthropologie have their haters and I seriously doubt they are the least bit concerned. I promise you, you do not have time to sit around and worry about what people think, just keep putting yourself and your work out in the world with abandon and your people will find you. They will find you, and they will love you. Now, just to prepare you, they may love your competitors too and that is FINE. Don’t you love a ton of different things? Duh. Of course you do! Do you think that Kate Spade is worried that you just bought a Coach purse? Doubt it.
When creativity strikes. For me, creativity strikes when I least expect it (usually in the shower) and I have to be prepared. I keep notepads everywhere, talk to Siri a lot, and just bought a waterproof notepad off Amazon for my inspiring showers. Again, having control over how you react to situations can make the biggest difference. I used to lose my inspiration by not being prepared - not anymore my friends! When creativity strikes, I will be ready to take action (or make a note or a sketch to take action later)!
When your paid team members or “pizza and beer” helpers make mistakes. There will be a time in your small biz life when you need help, ask for it, and then that person you trusted makes a mistake. The first thing you need to do in this situation is step back and think, “Will this mistake kill me or my business?” The answer will 99.9999% of the time will be no, so take a deep breath and use the mistake as a tool to teach your help or assistant. Most people learn best after making a mistake because they don’t want to make the same mistake twice. Take the time to explain to your employee, friend or family member what they need to do next time instead, then show them how to correct the situation or have them watch you put out the fire. Next time they will be prepared to handle the situation better and maybe you won’t even have to hear about it - bonus!
When your body gives up. You have a human body, not a robot body. You will get sick, you will be tired and if you are a mom, your kids will get sick too. When you get sick your body needs rest, like actual rest, not the rest you tell yourself you are getting by staying in your PJs and taking your laptop to bed. Turn off the computer and crawl under the covers to go to sleep! Oh and put your phone in another room or in your sock drawer because phones are a major distraction. It’s inevitable, there will be a work “emergency” when you are sick - ignore it. I put “emergency” in quotes because unless you are the president, a police officer, or in the medical professional no one has a true emergency. They will live for the next 12-24 hours without you. When you are sick or tired you are not helping yourself or your business. Pack it up, call it in, wave the white flag - you can bring your “A” game another day.
I know that letting go of control in your business is hard, but letting go of the stress and the drama that comes with running a business is so freeing. Also, letting go will give you more of what you want - time to work on your business, time with your family and friends, and time for yourself to do whatever makes you happy. For me, letting go of some control in my business has allowed me the freedom to explore new ideas and new creative outlets like painting and drawing which makes me a better wife, mom, friend, and business owner. What will you do with less stress in your life?
Connect with Kelly on Instagram!