If you own your own business you’ve undoubtedly said that you “run your business” or that you are “running a business.”
We’ve certainly said this on multiple occasions about our various business ventures.
But a funny thing has happened over the years as we’ve learned from our mistakes “running” our businesses: We’re damn tired of feeling like we’re always running!
With Wandering Aimfully we’ve made the public announcement of striving for enough. Not more. Not maximum profits. Not some arbitrary 7-figure annual income number. We actually did the math and figured out the amount of money we want to make to sustain the lives we want.
In this journey to enough, we’re also shifting our thinking from “running a business” to “walking a business.”
Creating 1,600 Videos While “Running A Business” Led Me Four Years of Serious Burnout
In May of 2013, I hung up my final t-shirt for my IWearYourShirt business and at the same time closed the flip-out LCD on my Canon DSLR video camera. After filming, editing, and uploading over 1,600 videos in a 5-year span (an average of nearly 1 video per day for 1,600 days straight) I no longer wanted to even think about creating a video, let alone touch a video camera. I was burnt-the-hell-out.
Admitting to a room of strangers in 2013 that I was completely burned out and my business was shutting down.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that it took nearly FOUR whole years to get over the negative feelings I had towards creating videos. Just thinking about the video-creation process gave me a swirling feeling in my stomach. Reaching for the video camera put me in a bad mood. Imagining myself having to edit any footage I shot made me depressed.
My feelings of burnout when it came to filming videos had come directly from “running” my IWearYourShirt business. I spent countless hours overworking myself to publish videos on a completely arbitrary schedule I’d forced myself into.
I left the 9am-5pm corporate world to chase down my own big idea (IWearYourShirt) only to find myself in a 9am-9pm job that felt like a career dungeon.
Maybe you feel the same way with your business right now? You’re stuck in a career dungeon?
You’re currently running, running, running, with no end in sight and are afraid if you slow down everything will crumble around you?
As business owners, we often don’t realize the traps we set for ourselves and how much we over-work until it’s too late.
After four years of getting over my burnout, I could pick up the video camera again
In 2018 I started creating videos again consistently with my wife but with a much more relaxed production schedule. I was NOT going to repeat my past mistakes. I was NOT going to work my fingers to the bone to push videos out quickly and at an unsustainable rate.
Instead, my wife and I…
- Committed to a more relaxed production timeline (weekly videos)
- Streamlined the video creation process and removed effort where possible
- Reminded ourselves we didn’t need to create perfect videos like well-established creators
- Started a recording batching schedule to get ahead of our publishing schedule
- Brought on a video editor (Hi, Nina!) to take on our WAIM Show edits
- Would be okay if we missed a self-imposed publishing deadline
An example video on our Wandering Aimfully YouTube channel.
This new mindset when it came to video production took me from feeling like I was always running around and burning the creation-candle at both ends to having a calm schedule that I could stick to and even get ahead with! (Novel idea!)
How Can You Tell If You’re Currently Stuck In “Running A Business” Mode?
It can be hard to know, in the day-to-day of operating a business, if you are in “running mode.” Do any of these things hit too close to home for you:
- You’re always having to wake up early and go to sleep late
- You have a to-do list that’s never ending
- You rarely get to spend long, focused hours in your work
- You want to create content, but can never do it on a consistent basis
- Your email inbox is a complete shit show
- You feel like you tend to let your customers down because you can’t keep up
If you feel the pain of those things we’ve been there with you. It’s incredibly common for business owners to get stuck in the spiral of these things for weeks, months, and even years.
Sometimes you DO have to run your business
Instead of running, think about short sprints.
We get it. You are creating a new thing. You are making a big transition. You are starting from scratch. No matter what, there will be times when you have to run and not walk. But you should think of these times as short sprints where you absolutely must set boundaries for your running time otherwise you’ll just continue to run.
When you need to put in the extra work, think of it as a sprint, not a marathon. Short sprints of additional working time that you will stop doing at a certain point and not allow to become bad habits.
We’ve all been preached the gospel of Hustle at one time or another. As I wrote in another article, We’ve Reached Peak Hustle-Porn.
Hustle should be reserved for short bursts (sprints!) Running your business should only need to happen for small periods of time. If you’re always going 100mph you’re going to get burned out.
You might not be cut out for this…
I’m a firm believer that we’re all unique snowflakes, let’s get that out on the table. I truly think that every person has a unique skill and can offer something to the world in the form of their own business if they so choose.
However… That doesn’t mean everyone is cut out to operate their own business (running OR walking).
For some folks, the pressure and anxiety that come with the uncertainties of owning your own business are too much. That’s OKAY! That’s why there are a plethora of “real jobs” out in the world.
There is absolutely no shame in admitting that working for yourself is not the right path for you.
As much as you may want to work for yourself and chase down a big idea, it just may not be the right fit for you. Should you give a shot to see how it goes? 100% yes! But if it doesn’t work out you shouldn’t beat yourself up and you shouldn’t force yourself into debt, depression, or other negative things many of us go through.
It’s Time To Commit To Walking Your Business
We’re not going to lie to you and pretend you can just whisper our mantra of “I’m committing to walking my business” and POOF everything will change for you.
What we can do is tell you that IT IS possible to adopt the walking a business mindset even if you’re currently running.
We’ve seen it firsthand for our businesses and my example about our video production schedule is just one part of how we’ve made our shift from running to walking.
Here are a couple ways you can think about transitioning from running to walking your business…
Walking Your Business Challenge #1: Define your enough number
Instead of focusing on never-ending growth, pick a number that you want to make monthly and when you hit that number stop. Don’t keeping going and working just because you can. Be content to use your extra energy and free time to enjoy the life you’ve created for yourself.
A tip for defining your enough number:
- Look at the last 3 months of business expenses and create a monthly average
- Look at the last 3 months of life expenses and create a monthly average
- Add an extra $$$ each month to account for taxes (15% of monthly revenue is a good ballpark)
- Add an extra $$$ each month you want to put aside for savings (maybe start with 10% of monthly revenue)
- Add an extra $$$ each month you want to give to charity
Total all of those up to find your enough number. If you want to read more about how we defined our enough number go here.
Walking your business challenge #2: Set and cap the hours you want to work
How many hours do you actually NEED to work each week to accomplish your tasks and financial goals? If you don’t create a cap, you’ll fill every waking hour with work. Caroline will often ask me around 5pm: Do you have more work to do today? And the answer is always, “there’s always more work to be done.”
If you own your own business, it’s hard to shut things down each day because our to-do lists constantly ongoing. By creating a cap of 5, 6, 7, or 8 hours of working time you won’t stay attached to your computer afraid of FOMO.
Do you need help managing your time? We have a few tips for you here.
Walking your business challenge #3: Force yourself to take the next 2 weekends completely off of work
For some of you reading this, taking any time off from your business will sound impossible. For some of you reading this, you may already be doing it (hurray, you!)
If it feels like you have to work on the weekends to keep up you are stuck in the “running a business” mode and you are going to burn yourself out.
Take the weekends completely off for the next two weeks and compare your revenue and work completion to the previous two weeks. Was the outcome drastically different financially? Did your customers throw up their hands in anger because you didn’t get back to them over the weekend? Did you enjoy time with your family or maybe get to some of those household projects you’ve neglected for years?
Those are just a few simple ways to transition from running to walking. Only you will know the areas of your business that are currently in control of you instead of the other way around.
From our own personal experience, we know that running our businesses only leads to health issues and burning out. Slowing down may seem incredibly difficult but if you are able to build better habits and make your business as efficient as possible, you can absolutely start walking your business.