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5 musts for keeping your business afloat when life knocks you down

I was consumed by one thing and only one thing: we probably weren’t going to be able to conceive a baby. I had already been grieving this for years, since we’d been trying with zero positive pregnancy tests. But, the second surgery proved it to be an even truer reality than I had imagined it to be in my mind.

And now, Jesse and I were faced with some soul searching and big decisions about where we were going to go from here, but we also had to run our business. Well, we weren’t just running a business, we were right smack dab in the middle of a busy wedding season, shooting almost every weekend as Limelife Photography and pouring every ounce of our spare energy into building Idealust. In the middle of that craziness, I was trying to figure out how to be okay with whatever God had in mind for our future family.

Can I get super honest with you? Good.

There were days when I felt so disconnected to all we had built as entrepreneurs, because I so desperately wanted the details of this other part of our life to fall into place. There were days when I just couldn’t get myself to sit at my desk and be the photographer or a business coach that everyone knew me to be. There were days when I just needed nothingness inside my brain because there was too much happening inside my heart.There were days when I just couldn’t get myself to sit at my desk and be the photographer or a business coach that everyone knew me to be. There were days when I just needed nothingness inside my brain because there was too much happening inside my heart.

And that’s okay.

Maybe you’ve felt that way before, too? Because of something hard or unexpected? Maybe a relationship went downhill or someone you love got a not-so-promising call from the doctor? We’ve all been there and the truth is…we’ll be there again, at some point. It’s part of life. But, what the heck do you do with it all when you’re a creative entrepreneur? When your clients are depending on you? When your family is depending on the paycheck?

I’m so incredibly blessed that I work with my husband. When things feel a little too wild in our personal life, and if my energy is shifted in that direction, he fills in the gaps. We are able to ebb and flow and take charge when one of our (wo)men is down. But, even still, there have been plenty of times when both of us needed to put business on the backburner to take care of ourselves and our people.

I believe entrepreneurship is such a gift for so many reasons. One of the coolest things is that we can turn things up fast and furious, momentum burning like a roaring fire. Or, when needed or wanted, we can slow things down. Pause the extras. Maintain the essentials.

That said, when life throws us curve balls (all of this can also totally be applied to planned life events that take us away from our businesses), there are ways to make it work. And not just work, but work well for us and those we serve. There are ways to make the most of all the effort we’ve put in, without backsliding in business and, at the same time, doing what we need to do to take care of ourselves, our circumstances and our people.

Here are our 5 musts for keeping your business afloat when life knocks you down. Learned from plenty of personal experience over the last 8 years 😉

  1. Give yourself grace. Ease off on the expectations for a bit. You don’t always need 15 super challenging monthly goals. Maybe you only have 3 this month and one of them is to get yourself to a yoga class twice a week. Success isn’t just about money and clients and Instagram engagement. Success is living a life full of giving and loving others. Remind yourself that it’s essential to spend time loving your people, including yourself and it’s more than okay not to spend that time in your business.
  2. Go into maintenance mode. Figure out what you need to do to keep things running smoothly, without piling on any extra commitments or ideas. This isn’t the time to pick up speed, but we don’t want to fall backwards either. Focus on the essentials like getting back to new inquiries quickly and taking care of our current clients. Give yourself permission to put the rest aside, for now.
  3. Take care of your clients. If you’re taking some time away from work, communicate any new, temporary expectations, like your response time. Your clients don’t need to know all the details, but they do need to know they’ll still be getting everything you promised them. If your workflows and systems are in place (high-five!!!), you will still be able to over-deliver without the extra strain.
  4. Have a backup plan. Depending on the circumstances, depending how long you’ll be in maintenance mode and depending on what exactly you do, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan. That might mean having a list of second shooters you can call and ask for help. That might mean handing off a little more responsibility to your VA for the next couple weeks. That might mean referring new leads to industry friends.
  5. Create more space. We have to expect the unexpected. I’ve found that the more consistent I am with my morning routine and the more time I spend with Jesus, the better I handle all this hard stuff. I react less and calmly address circumstances. I don’t beat myself up for not going 90mph all the time. The only way I get good at this stuff is by creating the space to practice self-care and by building in plenty of room for my priorities, outside of our businesses.  

We’ve coached and had conversations with hundreds of incredible creative entrepreneurs. Almost every single one of them has shared that this, entrepreneurship, is the dream because of the freedom it allows them. Most of the time, that means fun stuff like travel, doing what they love and getting to work from home. Sometimes, that means freedom, space and opportunity to take a step back from your business to take care of yourself.