We’ve been in the death throes of potty training our three year old for the last 300 years months. Only recently did things finally start to click. It just dawned on me that learning to deposit metabolic waste in a designated receptacle is a lot like learning how to run a business well. Let me count the ways.

We learn fastest from our mistakes.

For a long time, my kid was okay holding it for an hour or two at a time. The missing piece was awareness of when they needed to go potty.

Wanna know what finally did it?

Letting them pee in their pants. Repeatedly. And having to leave the science museum and other fun places because they peed in their pants.

It was NOT fun, let me assure you. It was really hard to tell them, “I am not going to tell you when to go potty anymore.” I knew that I’d be cleaning up accidents. But accidents were the only way for them to understand the signals from their body.

I once left the diaper bag in the car because, “The car isn’t far away,” and “We’ll just be there for five minutes,” and “They already pooped today!” (I was new, cut me some slack!) When we arrived at the doctor’s office and it was time to weigh them, I took off the diaper and there was poop everywhere. Somehow in this office full of babies there were no wipes or diapers. Our diaper bag might as well have been on the moon.

Never made that mistake again.

I only knew to add a timeline clause and a hefty rescheduling fee to my contract after I wasted months waiting for dawdling clients. It took overcommitting myself and having to refund payments for me to learn how to plan project timelines effectively. When I did photography, it wasn’t until I faced my books and realized that I was essentially paying people to let me take their picture that I knew I had to raise my prices or find something else to do.

Doing your business is only as fun as you make it. 

Let’s face it: no one loves going to the bathroom, but we all gotta do it. No one Very few people looooove bookkeeping and budgeting and invoicing. But, to quote one of my preschooler’s unlikely favorite songs, wake up, you need to make money! So you might as well have some fun doing it. Grab a business buddy and set a time each week (preferably) or month for a prospecting power hour or content creation rampage. Treat yourself before or after you finish doing inventory or tidying your digital workspace. Make a special upbeat playlist to blast while you square up your books. (OBVIOUSLY this song needs to be on there.) 

You gotta do it to get to the fun stuff.

The biggest struggle with potty training for us is that my kid doesn’t want to stop playing long enough to pee. Doesn’t matter how many stickers or Skittles I dangle in front of them. The one thing that ALWAYS works, however, is to remind them that they need to go potty before we can go to the park or science museum. Peed on underwear really makes it hard to enjoy anything.

Business is no different. It makes total sense to procrastinate updating your website because you’d rather be doing the thing that makes you money. But if your contact form breaks because a plugin wasn’t updated, or your portfolio doesn’t represent your skills accurately anymore, you’ll still find yourself without any clients. Get your business house in order so you can get to the good stuff.

Do it all at once.

I know several parents who swear by the potty training bootcamp method. Supposedly, you can potty train in 3 days. The catch is that you do nothing but wait for your child to start peeing so you can throw them onto the potty for THREE DAYS. Yes, it’s as terrible as it sounds. But as someone who took the slow, not particularly steady path and has yet to arrive at the final toileting destination, I can say that there’s probably some wisdom in the hyperfocused approach. Because along the slow road, we’ve picked up some not-so-good habits that I now have to undo while not forming NEW not-so-good habits. 

The same thing can happen when you schlock together your business systems and processes one piece at a time. You might choose a particular payment processor that lets you skip fees (which is against the terms of service but OH WELL) when you start out. But once you decide to send invoices with a pay-online button, you realize you have to switch payment processors. Maybe you choose a free email newsletter service, only to later realize it doesn’t play well with your website. Or you insist you’ll figure out a bookkeeping system when you’re making money consistently. Except once you’re making money consistently, you’re too busy to go back and sift through your inbox for Paypal notifications. Then you have no idea if you’re profitable or not and you make decisions based on fear or guesswork.

It’s a pretty shitty way to work.

When I decided to start intentionally freelancing back in 2017, I invested in business coaching to help me get the basics in place from day 1. And it was 100% worth it even though I had to borrow money from myself to pay my coach. I saved so much stress by starting out with a thoughtful working process and a few smart tools. More importantly, I was able to explain my process confidently to clients, which helped them feel confident in hiring me. Bai bai, impostor syndrome! (Kind of. I still roll into a quivery ball of feelings at least once a month, but it’s better than it used to be.)

As I’ve worked with clients on their branding, websites, or email marketing, I’ve found that many of them actually need help with their internal processes as much as (or even more than) their external branding, marketing, or sales funnels. Which makes sense. The internal processes are kind of like peeing on the potty: obligatory, repetitive, and not super exciting or fun. BUT. You gotta poop on the potty before you can go to the science museum, remember?

The Business Website Accelerator

I’m excited and terrified to announce that my Business Website Accelerator is now open for enrollment. For twelve weeks we’ll be working on your internal business systems and your external-facing website. In fact, we’ll get your business shit together so that your website will attract the right audience and inspire client confidence in hiring you. 

If 2020 is the year you want to…

  • go full-time on your side gig
  • supercharge your growth
  • or just want to show yourself and the world that you take yourself seriously…

…check out the Business Website Accelerator here.

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