By Laura Michael, as told by Sara Shelton
Part of our “My Blueprint Story” Series
Real talk : This whole “business owner” thing is still pretty new to me. I’ve been operating my watercolor design, branding, and brand development business for just about 11 months now. So while it’s safe to say I’m no expert, here’s what I do know about life as a creative entrepreneur.
That’s why, even in my first year of business, I made a point to make sure I could take a four week vacation with my husband.
Yes, you read that right: four…. whole…. weeks.
And you guys, it was glorious! It was all the things I wanted it to be and more!
Before I made the leap to self-employment, I was working as a graphic designer. But honestly, my passion has always been art, specifically watercolors. To satisfy this passion, I started a small Etsy shop as a little side hustle. And after just a year, I knew I wanted to take the full leap into business on my own.
So last October, I did it! And honestly, it went really well almost right away. I was working incredibly hard and within the first month, I doubled my salary from the full-time job I’d just walked away from. Obviously, that’s a financial win for a brand new business, but a personal win it was not. I made that money by working nonstop at a completely unsustainable pace.
In an effort to redirect and avoid the fate of so many other entrepreneurs, I made the investment in The Blueprint Model. And I’m not kidding when I tell you that it completely revolutionized my business. Working with Shanna helped me set up a system that worked to both grow and make money in my business, but without the risk of the dreaded burnout I’d grown accustomed to in that first month.
Freelance life is all about ebb and flow. Some seasons are heavy and full of work. Other seasons are slow and simple. Sometimes life feels crazy, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I wanted a plan to help me use time wisely. I used those slower seasons to really dive into my business and develop that plan—a plan that would get me to the four week vacation my husband and I planned without fear or worry of losing the business I was building along the way.
My biggest takeaway to get to that place?
Once I started doing that, everything changed.
Counting the cost of the materials was one thing – I tried to only buy exactly what I needed. But what about my time? Am I calculating the hours I spend consulting, creating, and crafting into my pricing? The calls, the meals, the texts? Am I valuing my hours the same way I value my dollars?
That mental shift was a game changer for me.
It changed everything about my business, from the work I take to what I charge. I’m choosing to say, “No,” more (even when it’s hard!) so that I’m using my time in the wisest way. I’m looking at every project through the lens of time and money, making sure I’m not sacrificing too much of either to take it on. And I’m making more room to do the work I want to do and do it well. If my time is spread too thin, my clients will feel it. That’s something I certainly don’t want!
All that to say, I did take that trip. I put up the away notification on my email, didn’t take any work calls, and made the choice to truly unplug for the entire time we were away.
And you know what happened?
Not only did my business not suffer for it, but I came back to more work than I had before I left! Talk about a blessing!
So for all you creative ladies out there looking for the same kind of margin to take your time off, hear this: If you set the boundaries, value your time, and put in the work, your four week vacation is on the horizon, too!
(*Laura Michael’s headshot credited to dotsoncommercial.com)