A sustainable business is a company that runs in a way that allows the owner to enjoy the success of their company. It's not always easy, but it can be done with some hard work and dedication.
Running a small business can be challenging and exhausting, but it can also be rewarding. You already know there are many benefits to starting your own company. But fighting against burnout is a never-ending battle.
The next 7 rules guide how this law firm works with small business owners to help them build their path to a rich bitch business.
Like the core of what you do
Let me be clear: there will always be tasks in your business that you won't like.
But it's the tasks that you love that will keep you coming back to your business.
As a lawyer for creatives, I don't LOVE writing contracts (from service agreements to licensing and photo releases) or preaching about them (how they shouldn't be verbal or a handshake and why a lawyer should look at EVERY one). But I do love helping people come up with creative ways to get what they want out of a business relationship.
As a photographer, you probably don't love crouching into weird positions or maybe even editing your photos. But you love the smile on someone's face when they realize just how 'photogenic' they actually are.
As a florist, you probably don't love managing employees. But this was the only way someone would pay you to go shopping for beautiful blooms and arrange them in a way that would make anyone's heart sing.
As a content creator, you probably don't love editing and curating your content. But you love the rush of seeing just how much people love what you created.
Your thing doesn't even have to be what you actually do. I know plenty of lawyers who love running a business more than being lawyers and plenty of creatives who figure out the love systems or bookkeeping. It doesn't matter what it is. Just find the thing you like.
Remembering what you love about your business will make the hard days and the dull tasks sustainable.
Offload what you are good at or don't like doing
Remembering the fun stuff helps, but still means you have to do the hard things, right?
You're thinking "Bookkeeping is a nightmare" or "I could care less how the social media posts look" or even "I wouldn't know how to demand a late fee from a client if you forced me."
Make a list of all of those things. Find one that takes the most time, that you hate the most, or that a robot can manage and get rid of it.
If its a robot, it came with a contract you agree to when you sign up to use it. But if it's a person, consider setting out the terms of your relationship in clear employment or contractor agreement. Just make sure you use the right agreement for that relationship.
Create systems and policies to protect you from whatever you consider to be bullshit
Don't want to refund clients...Cool. Put a non-refundable line in your contract AND on your invoices.
Don't want to work on weekends. Great. Close your client calendar on weekends and set aside time to wrap shit up on Friday.
Don't want to chase down payment plans folks. Awesome. Get pre-authorized approval to charge their credit card. Set it on an automated charge with repeated invoices that let them know it's a receipt more than a bill.
And check with your lawyer to make sure you're doing all this in a legit way.
Protect your content
"I'm not a content creator! I didn't write a book or make a movie or create images."
Sure, but have you created a guide for your clients, recorded video content for marketing, written a newsletter with golden nuggets?
Then chances are: You are in the content creation industry too!
Content creators, artists, and small business owners (when they aren't one in the same) all have one thing in common they need to protect their work. And there's a laundry list of ways to protect it; legal advice for what suits you best is necessary.
With a massive amount of options in front of you like copyright protection, contract templates, trademark registration, defending against copyright infringement, licenses for your intellectual property, making ownership crystal clear to everyone involved and in your community, there's a wide variety of options an attorney can help you evaluate.
It's a lot and it's confusing. But a business lawyer with intellectual property experience will be able to help you decide what is worth protecting based on the cost to protect and how best to do that.
Forgive yourself for the mistakes you made along the way
How many decisions do you make every day?
A LOT, I bet.
Do you really think all of them are going to be the right ones?
Don't worry, you are not alone - every small business owner makes mistakes. And the best ones make a BUNCH of them. They make a bunch of them because they make a lot of decisions.
Decided to go with this vendor instead of the other your gut told you to pick and got bad results? Or maybe you didn't hire a business lawyer early on and are having to pay a bunch more to fix the things you thought weren't broken until a nasty letter showed up from the government.
Mistakes should be learned from, but there's no reason to beat yourself up for making one. Be kind to yourself and move on.
You should also keep in mind that you can't change what's done, but don't let the past get in your way of moving forward. This is a great time for reflection, so take some time to be with yourself or spend it doing something relaxing! You've earned it :)
What's measured is managed, so start measuring
Figure out what numbers matter in your business. Apart from revenue and expenses, what number do you need to know to build the business you want?
It could be as simple as how many hours your team worked this month. It could be how long you spent on vacation this month.
It could be a number to test how useful that last investment into your business was. How many clients have asked you about since you implemented that new drip email campaign explaining the custom contract that your lawyer and copywriter created for you?
Whatever matters to you, figure out how you can watch it change over time. And then use that number to drive your business forward.
Ask for help
I'm gonna be harsh for a second.
You canNOT do it all. You can't. It's actually impossible.
Ask for help with the laundry that never ends.
Ask for help with cooking that for some reason should be done 3 times a day.
Ask for help with marketing so you can focus on clients or ask for help with clients so you can focus on marketing.
Ask for help for the things you don't have the time/money to learn or even the desire (like legal...cough cough)
The silent game is a great game for nieces and nephews, but don't avoid asking for what you need. Ask and move on! It won't kill whoever you ask. Plus your business will grow so much quicker if everything isn't hanging by one thread.
To sum it all up, Remember the good things about your business. That way you can remember why you are doing it. Automate or delegate any tasks that you don't want to do. Create systems to protect yourself from what you consider bullshit. Forgive yourself for mistakes you made in the past. What is measured gets managed, so start measuring. Ask for help because you needed it yesterday.
If delegating the legal stuff, fixing past mistakes, or just getting that kind of help to build a business that suits you better is on your to-do list, InLine Legal would love to help. You can read more about our most ambitious chief legal officer package here.
**Disclaimer: This is only general information, not legal advice specific to your situation, and does not create a client-attorney relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer in your area.