Whether for planned or unplanned circumstances, it’s easy to feel like taking time away from your business is committing career suicide. Totally not true! In fact, taking leave from your business can provide an opportunity for valuable revitalization of your business trajectory and your life!
In this episode, we’ll cover the basics of a plan for taking a leave from your business. So whether you’re adding a new member to your family, taking time out to care for a family member, have a medical emergency or are taking a well-earned sabbatical to dream big, this episode is for you.
Basic timeline of a leave
A typical leave can be characterized in three phases: a complete leave (where you don’t lay a finger on a business-related task), a ‘maintenance mode’ (where work for a very limited number of hours, focusing on only the most essential tasks) and a ‘rev up’ phase (where you slowly transition to ‘life as usual’).
The more that you can plan in advance for an efficient maintenance mode, the more successful you’ll be!
What are your goals?
To optimally plan your leave, you need to know first where your business is at and what your goals are. To do this, you’ll need to document how you’re currently spending your time and gather your full current budget (income and expenses). Only then, will you be able to identify the essential tasks you’ll pare down to during your leave. You want the most bang for your buck (or, limited hours!)
You may identify a financial goal (to make X amount per month during your leave) or a business-related goal (i.e. to maintain your current customer base) for your leave. You will probably not experience growth during your leave time, but you’ll be focused on making the most happen in your available work hours.
Plan in advance: how to trade time, energy and money
If you are entering a planned leave, then you have the luxury of time (not so for an unplanned leave caused by an unforeseen emergency). The easiest strategy for keeping content consistent during a period of leave is to ‘work ahead’ before your leave begins.
A leave may be a time when you want to consider hiring help to take on tasks that you won’t have the time to complete. It is best to document your business procedures and search in advance of your leave to find the right fit. Hiring someone from a hospital bed is probably not the best timing!
I encourage you to look at your whole life when planning. Maybe during your leave period, you decide to hire out the cooking of meals to leave more time to dedicate to your business. That’s totally legitimate! You’ll be able to make these types of decisions once you’ve completed documenting how you spend your time and setting your priorities (goals).
By the end of this episode (even if you’re not taking leave), you’ll feel ready to streamline your business and focus on the essentials!
Stacey Trock is a consultant in brand management and social media. She helps small businesses engage authentically with their customers by developing both long-term content plans and live social media event coverage. Stacey teaches and writes about business for Creative Live, industry organizations and trade magazines. You can find her at StaceyTrock.com
Have you found that whenever you're really busy and you do NOT have the time to work on something, you get a MILLION ideas for it?! I know! Me too!
So what do you do when you have too many ideas? How can keep from losing them? How can you keep creativity flowing? How can you be sure to choose the right one?
When I asked the Starship what topics they most wanted me to cover on the podcast, this came up over and over: What do I do when I have too many ideas?
First, know that you are not alone if you both have times of NO IDEAS AT ALL and ALL THE IDEAS, OMG! That's just a natural part of the cycle. Creativity and business is cyclical, you'll have times of planting, times of harvest, times of a totally fallow field (I grew up surrounded by cornfields in rural Ohio!). The important thing, the vital thing to keeping your creativity healthy and alive is to RESPECT the season you're in, don't try to push it. So when you have no ideas, just rest and get to work on the things you've already planned. When you have ALL the ideas, don't try to squash them down or ignore them.
Now, you can't always work on the ideas you have as soon as you have them! And some projects take a long time so even if you start right away, it's going to be a while before it's finished. So what do you do with all those ideas? You don't want to squash them, but you can't work on them?
The super simple, obvious answer is to WRITE THEM DOWN.
Ideally you're going to write them down in the same place every time, so you can find the list when you're out of ideas!
Here's a few things to keep in mind when writing your ideas down:
Put them where you'll find them again!
Look at what else you have coming up, and see if an idea fits in to your plan?
Does it have a deadline (like a Black Friday Deal idea)? Does it need you to work on it by a certain time to make it happen?
Prioritize what you'll work on, based on what your current goal is, what makes sense for your business, and what you're enthusiastic about.
Keep going back to the same list and adding to it, all the time.
Review the list regularly! Ideally you'll do this when you're planning and thinking about your goal for the quarter and at the very least every 6 months. Maybe some of the ideas fit with your new goal, or maybe your goal is to implement an idea you still love.
Don't be precious about your ideas, you will have a million more. Cross out ideas you're not still excited about!
What I do:
If it can be done this week, write it down in my daily journal
If I’m not sure when to do it, I add it to a big list in my quarterly planning journal
If it has moving parts or a deadline, put it in Asana
That's pretty straight forward right? That's what I thought, so I was confused by the panic that this question seems to elicit in people and I wondered: Why does it upset people to have lots of ideas?
I have a few possible ideas:
It's frustrating to be excited for something and not get to work on it right away. But trust yourself to come back to it, and then DO come back to it, and you'll build up that self-trust, you'll start to believe that you WILL get to what's important, and you'll start to feel less upset about it over time (I can tell you this is true from experience!)
You worry about picking the RIGHT idea. You worry that if you have to pick between your ideas, you won't work on the right one.
I can understand that, but I have a secret for you that is going to totally change your life. Are you ready for it?
There is no right idea. There is no right answer.
I'm serious! If you have an idea for an Instagram Challenge you want to hold and you have an idea for a Black Friday Sale, you know what? Both ideas will go great. Both ideas are likely to grow your business! There isn't a RIGHT choice between the two – pick the one that either makes more sense for your current goal, your current ability and/or your current enthusiasm level. That's it!
One way to look at this is that there is no “right” answer, because no one knows the answer! You have to try it and see!
The other way to look at this is that EVERY answer is the right answer! Taking action, at all, in your business is better than NOT taking action. EVERYthing you do, if you pay attention and learn from both the successes and failures, is going to be progress.
Remember, there are very few things you need to do in your business. They are, in this order:
Have enough products in your shop (that are priced right)
Show up consistently, communicating with your community (where your buyers are)
Reach out to new audiences (like doing a craft show, getting in shops, etc)
Within those areas, you're going to have a goal or a focus – pick the idea that aligns with that current goal.
And above all, trust yourself!
You are going to have more ideas!
You are going to implement the really great ideas.
You are going to move forward.
Don't let too many ideas keep you from taking action. Take action, and you'll get more ideas.
Last week we got our first asked foster care placement: a three-month-old baby girl! She’s absolutely a delight and thinks we’re hilarious. I don’t know yet how long will have her, but I’ll share updates on the weekly vlog, when I can!
A lot of you have asked how you can help, so here it is: how you can help me (baby registry!) and help other foster youth and parents.
I created this video ahead of time and thanks to Joeli, it's being posted within a few days of our first placement!
In the past 6 months, I have been absolutely overwhelmed by all of the sweet and loving responses we've received to our announcement that we're becoming foster parents!
The comment I hear most often is: “You guys are wonderful people to do that.”
I so so appreciate this sentiment, but I want to be clear that YOU can do something to help foster children too. Whether it's something you do in your own community, or it's supporting Jay and I, there's a million different options, so today I want to share those options with you! They go from personal, to global – I'd encourage you to find the option that works best for your life right now and do it! And when you do, comment below and encourage others to find something on this list and help others!
Before you decide how to help, the most helpful thing you can do for all of us is to decide how you can best help, in your current situation – is it giving of your money by buying a gift or donating to a foster care closet? Giving of your time by running errands or bringing food? Giving of other resources you have (like your experience by coming to teach me how to entertain my kids)? Decide how you WANT to help, and then offer it specifically. It's far more helpful for you to say to any new mom: “I'd love to come this Thursday after at 2p, and help around the house or run errands for you – would that help?” Or, “I can bring dinner over on Friday – would you prefer pizza or chinese?” Rather than, “lemme know if I can help”.
Here's some specific ideas of what you can do to help.
Help foster parents in the same way you'd help any new parents: Gifts, meals, babysitting, encouraging texts.
You can do this for ANY foster parent in your community, and I'll share more about that in a minute, but let's start with the personal – you can help make our own parenting journey a bit easier 🙂
I was pretty nervous to even talk about this, but my Starship Captains encouraged me to 🙂 They insisted they wanted to know what we needed, so!
I've created an Amazon Baby registry. Over the last few months, I've been adding stuff to it, that I want to remember to get, as ya'll have been recommending stuff. Everything from formula to baby strollers. I feel kinda weird about this, but my friends have reminded me that every other mother creates a registry and invites people to a baby shower to buy from the registry.The Amazon registry is great, because I'm able to easily update it as soon as we know the age and needs of the kids we're getting (by the time you watch this video, it will have been updated to what we need, RIGHT NOW), you're able to see what's been bought and what hasn't (if it says 1/1 purchased, that means someone else got it) and Amazon will ship it right to my house, without you having to futz with shipping. Here's the direct link, so if you'd like to help us welcome our new members to the family, feel free to send a gift from it.Since foster placements can last anywhere from a few months to 2 years and turn into adoptions, be assured that any personal item you get the kids (like toys, toothbrushes, etc) will stay with them if they are reunited with their birth family and any big standard items (like sheets or strollers) will stay with us for the next placement. And of course diapers and wipes will get used right up 🙂 If Amazon isn't your thing, a gift certificate to Target or Old Navy is sure to be used as the kids don't have any clothes (and because we didn't know the ages we'd be getting, we couldn't buy them ahead of time).
Anything extra we have will be donated the local foster care closet that is helping us, SMILE Tri Cities.
You can also help us like you'd help any friends or family members who had a baby, by making our lives easier – feel free to text me to bring over dinner, coffee, or chocolate. We're vegetarians, but it's super easy to feed us – there are good frozen or hot dinner options at Earth Fare, we eat at Mexican and Chinese restaurants, or just bring us a veggie pizza from Scratch. Or seriously, just bring me a pound of coffee and you'll be my best friend forever. Text Jay before you're going to bring something, so I make sure to have a bra on.
If you'd like to help with babysitting, we would super-love that, but there are some restrictions about who we can let babysit. You will need to be checked out by the state before you can keep our foster kids, but it's not a long process and it would be a REALLY AMAZING way for you to help us out. I'll have information for you about how to do this, so please lemme know if you're willing to babysit for an hour or two.
If you want to help but aren't approved (yet), feel free to help with other tasks related to running the house, like washing dishes or picking up what we need from the pharmacy or vacuuming. I'm pretty sure I'm buried under a pile of laundry, so I won't be offended if you offer to help.
Along the line of babysitting, let's be honest: I have no idea how to entertain kiddos the age of my new kids. If you have kids around the same age, PLEASE send me your ideas, for books, activities, whatever. I am starting at scratch with no idea of what these kids are interested in (or familiar with), so any physical activity that doesn't require some new purchase is going to be really helpful (leave them in the comments below). And if you leave nearby, PLEASE text me to schedule a playdate. Please.
(Note: I'm staying mostly off FB Messenger, so send a text to my phone or Jay's, if you don't have our number, leave a comment here with your ideas 🙂 )
You can help my business. My business pays 100% of our bills and I’m taking a bit of parental leave from the public-facing side of my business (I’ll be back in the Starship after just a few weeks, but will take a longer break from marketing and launching). I have systems set up, so we’re not worried about this AT ALL. But if you like my work and you’ve benefited from it – share it!
Share the podcast: Explore Your Enthusiasm
Share my book: Map Your Business is available on Amazon.
Better yet – leave a review of the podcast, leave a review on Amazon of my book (if you have it)
How you can help other foster parents
All of the above are ways you can help ME, but MOST of you aren't near enough to come over and stay with my kid for a few hours, but guess what? There are foster parents near YOU who need the exact same support. Here are some ways to help them:
Help individual foster families. You can also ask at your church or community groups if there are foster families in your community. If so, do for them what you'd do for any new mom: Bring meals, offer to babysit, schedule play dates. Offer to bring NEW age appropriate clothes, underwear, or toys.
Donate to national groups that provide for foster children such as Together We Rise at Togetherwerise.org
Mentor a kid who recently aged out of foster care.
This is a HUGE need that involves NO diapers and no change to your own home. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is an option to consider. While the program isn't specifically oriented to foster children, it reaches at-risk children and youth. Of course, you can also search the programs in your area. Google is your best friend, just search “foster care mentor program.”
Become licensed as a foster parent. Here's the thing: You can be any level of foster parent. You can decide just to do “respite care”, which is when you basically babysit for other foster parents. You can choose to take only newborns, you can choose to take only 17 year olds, you can choose to take one kid at a time, or huge sibling groups. You can choose to adopt or be a foster-only home. ANY of these options is going to serve kids who need help.
I follow my enthusiasm by reading…a lot. And once a month, I share (some of) the books I read last month and the books I intend to read this month. You can join the informal book club by sharing your own list with me on Facebook and find all the posts here.
I did not want to talk about this. I have been avoiding this topic for years, even though it's something my listeners and clients ask all the time: WHY do I keep sabotaging myself?
If you feel like you sabotage your own success, today’s episode is for you.
So last week I put up 5 different podcast ideas for the Starship to vote on what they most wanted me to talk about…and you know what got the most votes? Self Sabotage!
Even though I've been asked this a lot, I've avoided talking about it because…I think it's possible you are NOT sabotaging yourself. Sometimes the things that look like self-sabotage are actually just you taking care of yourself!
For example, if you wake up with a headache, like I did last Friday, and you decide NOT to work on your To Do list, even though it's very big and you have a deadline…is that self-sabotage? Or self-care?
Now, since we're talking about ME, I bet you'd say: Tara! You have a headache, take the day off, your business will be OK!
But if we are talking about YOU, you'd say: Oh, I really should have worked, I have things I know I am supposed to do! I totally sabotaged my list by not working!
And girl, that's just wrong.
So before we talk about REAL self-sabotage, we gotta get clear that every time you don't work, every time you take a break, every time you decide NOT to show up for something, it's not necessarily ruining everything – sometimes it is you taking care of yourself, or giving yourself what you need.
When I asked you (on instagram) for your examples of self-sabotage you told me:
When I get an opportunity, but believe I can’t do it, so I don’t follow through.
Setting a big goal and then getting sidetracked or not planning, and deciding: “well, all hope is lost!”
When I’m scared. I plan a big thing, and then don’t follow through (like a big launch, where then I only send a couple emails instead of doing everything I had planned).
You don't think you deserve it. (Imposter Syndrome)
You actually don't want what you're working towards.
You'll notice that each of these reasons is actually…self-care! You're protecting yourself from what you think you can't handle or don't want.
What you can do about it:
1. Get really specific about what the self-sabotaging activity is and why you did it.
Ask yourself: What am I trying to protect?
What am I afraid of?
This is important because a lot of women TELL me they are sabotaging themselves and when I ask for specifics, they hem and haw, “Well, all the time. I'm just never following through, I never do.”
Girl, that is a belief you have about yourself. It's a belief, not because it's true, but because you keep saying it to yourself. As long as you keep repeating this and believing it, you're never going to be able to move forward.
Until you can believe the opposite (“I show up for what matters. I can do what it takes”), replace it with the truth, “I'm not sure what's up, but I'm doing my best. I'm protecting myself.” Move towards trusting yourself to show up by getting clear on exactly what you do and when you do it. Get clear on why you're doing it (what you're protecting yourself from).
2. Let go of the fear.
The next step, after you know what you're afraid of, is to look at that fear head on. I like to do fear-setting (from Tim Ferris):
What's the worst that can happen?
Do you think you can handle that?
If not, how likely is that to happen? (Usually, not very likely, or at least not for very long.)
What is the much more likely (smaller) thing that may happen?
Can you handle THAT?
This is the time to use all the tools you have to release fears – therapy, journaling, essential oils, tapping – whatever works for you!
3. Notice all the ways you DO show up for yourself.
Do you buy groceries and cook meals?
Do you read sometimes?
Do you spend some time crafting?
Or doing anything you love?
THAT is showing up for yourself. YOU ARE DOING IT.
And it's transferrable! If you show up in this way you can show up in others.
4. Show up for yourself, even more. And make note of it when you do.
Self-sabotage isn’t something to beat yourself up about. It’s something to take care of yourself in the face of.
Are you ready to dive back into your business after a summer break? Did you take time off for the summer? Or did you just feel less productive because of the nice weather, the travel, the kids home from school? Whether you took a proper break or not, a lot of you asked me: How do I get back to work?
Take a fresh look at your goals.
It's possible your life shifted over the summer – maybe your kids entered school or maybe you entered a new relationship or maybe your had a great moment in your business (like a big show or wholesale account?) that's shifted how you think about your business.
It's normal for what you wanted then to not be what you want NOW. So pull out your most recent goals (you do write them down each quarter in Map Your Business, right?) and ask yourself: Do I still want this? How do I want to go about moving towards it?
Take a fresh look at your days. What worked before might not work now.
When do you have time to work? When do you want to work? When are you most focused? When is the best time to do each task? Would you rather batch types of work on certain days? Or in certain hours?
Take a fresh look at your expectations.
How much do you expect to get done in a day? In a week?
How are you feeling about your productivity? Do you need to lower your expectations? Do you need to shift your productivity towards a more impactful work?
Give yourself grace.
It takes a while to get back in the flow of things. If you are working more now than you have been, you may need to ramp up slowly. Coming back after a break NEVER goes how you plan, so get comfortable with that.
What do you need to be gentle with yourself about?