And other business lessons from Dad
My husband likes to say that I’m my father’s daughter. I’m not entirely sure that he always means it in a complimentary way. But I choose to see it as a positive thing. So today, in the lead up to Father’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d share some business lessons from dad.
Lesson #1: Piss poor planning on your part does not equal an emergency on my part
One of my favourite business lessons from dad is this gem. And since becoming a freelancer, I remind myself of it constantly. Dear clients, I love you and love helping you, but I’m actually not sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for your desperate call.
Most of the time, I’m booked up two to four weeks in advance. Some other copywriters are booked up even more in advance than that. For regular and repeat clients, I’ll always do my best to squeeze in last minute projects, but not at the expense of my own health or my family’s well-being. I’m too intolerable without sleep!
This might sound harsh, but frequently the last minute enquiries I get aren’t truly last minute. People have just failed to think ahead or prioritise the task. I know how easy it is to think “Oh, I’ll be able to write the website copy/award entry/brochure myself.” And then next thing you know, the deadline is looming, you’ve got paying work coming out the wazoo and that “easy” writing job is the last thing you’ve got time to do.
So do yourself a favour, think ahead and respect the time and effort that goes into writing quality copy for you. It’s not just slapping a few words down on paper. We take the time to strategically position your business and choose the right words to connect with your audience. That’s worth allowing time for.
Lesson #2: Just do it
My dad is one of the hardest working people I know. And if he decides he’s going to do something, he just gets on and does it. Mention a DIY project and he’ll be in the car to go to Bunnings to grab supplies faster than you can find your shoes.
This is a great lesson for business owners and wannabe business owners. Stop talking about the service or product you’re going to offer “one day” and just dive in. I faffed about talking about setting up my copywriting business for a solid 18 months before I did it (in my defence, I did also fall pregnant, have a difficult pregnancy and finish a post-grad degree at the same time).
But you know what, once I set it up and made the decision to go for it, everything fell into place. Ex-colleagues suddenly had projects for me, new clients discovered me. All because I finally decided to follow my dad’s advice and just do it.
Lesson #3: Sometimes you need to bite off more than you can chew and chew like mad
This might seem contradictory to lesson #1 about not taking on last minute projects and working at the expense of my own health and sanity but bear with me. You see, like a lot of juggling parents, I do have limited working hours – but there’s always those pockets of time you can dip into if you really want to. So even when I tell myself “I’m booked out,” if I get a project that I really, really want (like any food and beverage client, or a juicy award entry, or just a client who seems really cool), then it’s amazing how much I can fit in.
Sometimes in life, you need to push yourself. It might mean getting up at a ridiculously early time to get a rough first draft written. It might mean working on the weekend to fit in a project that sets your heart a-flutter.
The trick is in knowing when too much really is too much. Nobody wants to end up with the business equivalent of indigestion.
Lesson #4: Reward yourself for hard work
All work and no play makes Ange a dull girl. And a resentful mum. And an uninspired copywriter.
There’s nothing my dad loves more than a soak in the hot tub with a cold beer. It’s all about taking time out to recharge, unwind, and just be.
For me, that means I make time for things that are just for me in amongst busy work and family life. Three times a week I have non-negotiable gym sessions. Once a month, I have a massage with my AMAZING therapist (seriously, she’s the best – if you’re on the Northern Beaches and want her details, let me know!). Each and every day (ok, most days), I prioritise carving out the time to prepare and eat food that nourishes both my body and soul.
Doing these things allows me to be at my best when I am working. Taking time to rest and revitalise my body and mind helps to keep my creative juices flowing. And those creative vibes are what I get paid for, so it’s really an investment in my business.
What business lessons has your dad taught you?
I’d love to hear any words of wisdom from your dad. Let me know in the comments!