Why I am taking three weeks off and the 8 mistakes I’m learning from
I usually don’t write about the entrepreneurial journey here on the blog but I do think it is relevant because, you, as my reader, get to know a bit more about the person behind the words and videos that show up on this site. I am taking my first three week break of my working year starting this month and going into October and I feel this is a good time to share what the backstory to this break is.
The journey begins
My current journey began back in August 2016 when I got hired to set up my first email marketing platform for a client. From then on, I was completely hooked into making it happen with an online business. I made some rapid progress in those early months and I worked long hours without a break. I was making revenue that inspired me to keep upgrading my skills and my services. I enjoyed it.
Hardly did I know that such non-stop perseverance comes with a price. Often you will hear about entrepreneurs working so hard that they lose sight of their health and their family. In my case, because of some earlier established good habits, I always made time for my family and my health. But there was something else that was close to my heart that I completely ignored and dropped from my schedule.
And that was: learning about the nature of the mind and meditating.
I completely ignored something close to my heart.
Now, I love to learn so during the time when I was working on projects for clients, I continued to read books and articles and took trainings on all things online marketing and web design. But my inherent need to understand how my mind works got completely off my priorities.
I no longer sat in my living room reading about my favorite topic. I hardly invested time for meditation. And the result:
I lost my drive for my business. The immense enthusiasm that I held for my business and working with clients faded away to such an extent that I couldn’t connect with my purpose.
”What am I doing all of this for?” “What is my purpose"?” “What is the meaning of all of this?”
Overwork and ignoring my need to learn about the mind led to me losing all drive for my business.
I sank in a hole in which I wanted to shut down everything and just go be with my cats (I love my cats immensely, you see). I know that sounds crazy. But I dropped into a mini-depressive state where things that used to excite me didn’t any more.
I decided to take a break from business - but in my mind I was shutting down my business.
The shutting down begins
This all started in August 2017. The business that I had worked so hard on building - I was now in the process of ending. By October 2017, I wrote to all my clients that I will no longer be doing email marketing projects. I deleted all my client projects and emails. I made a note in my calendar to cancel my business email when the date arrives for renewal. By January, I embarked on recording 12 meditation audio tracks for my personal development site - this way I was taking my mind off my business completely.
I had ended the renewal of my domain sophiaojha.com and even cancelled my annual Squarespace plan to host this site. I wanted to shut everything down but I still had one client whom I had promised to help with his email marketing set up. He had already hired me many months ago but he was waiting upon his designer to get the site ready before I could start on my project. This client was truly a blessing in disguise and because of that open project, I had to keep my site open until end of Feb.
This force-break helped me to heal my lack of enthusiasm. And as a result, I gained immense clarity and focus for what I did want to do in my business.
By March, I had more than 6 months of healing from my lack of enthusiasm and energy. I had gone deep within myself, understood the symptoms and re-connected with what I wanted to do with this one life I have to live right now. Slowly I was recovering from my lack of enthusiasm. In fact, I was getting so much clarity and focus about what I did want to do in my business.
What I realized was: I realized that the problem was not the business or the topic of my business. It was how I was running it and how I was not fueling my inherent needs (see point 7 and 8 below). I saw at least 8 things I was doing “wrong” that zapped the life out of me in my business.
8 things I did wrong that led me to shut down my service-based business last year (which you may want to consider avoiding in your business).
I am sharing this with you so you may see if you are falling into these traps yourself and avoid them before they get out of hand.
1| I was undercharging.
I had put a lot of time in getting good at what I do. But because I was at the start of my business, I undercharged for my services. (I’ve read we, women, are really good at that. Suze Orman inspires us to do better!). This undercharging meant I worked more and more but didn’t see the proportionate increase in my revenue.
2| I was over-delivering while undercharging.
So, not only was I undercharging for my services, I would do double the amount of work for the same rate, in order to take care of my clients. I recognized that they too were solopreneurs like me (felt camaraderie for the common entrepreneurial journey) and delivered twice than what I was charging. Yes, it is said that women are the hardest workers in any team and I surely fit that description. Often, clients never noticed that; although I noticed how late I was going to bed.
3| I was underreporting on my timesheet.
There were (and still are) some clients that hired me for 10 hr packages. I don’t know what it was but I tended to state 15 minutes if I worked 25 minutes. I still tend to under-report my time (working on fixing it) and I think that added to the stress of my work over the course of the ensuing months.
4| I did things extremely fast but didn’t charge for it.
As I got better at what I did, I got extremely fast. I could set up an entire system in an afternoon what otherwise would have taken days. I had cultivated laser-focus and an ability to shut out all distractions. I delivered super fast but still charged the slow-coach rates. So again, I was doing much more in the small amount of time than before. And, I also was not good at articulating this added-benefit to my clients that my speed had increased even though they were paying me the same rates as before.
5| I squeezed in people on my calendar even if it was already full.
I got really stressed because I didn’t learn the art of scheduling people. I would put in several projects next to each other giving me no breathing room. I would respond to client questions right away even when I had a 100 things already in the pipeline. This made clients happy but made me unhappy. I am getting better at this but still a weak point that I need to get ironed out.
6| I didn’t schedule in me-time (reading time).
Everyone needs time off to do things they love. I love reading books on the nature of the mind. But I never made time for it. I was excited about my business but paid a price for not scheduling in me-time. The price was: I had to come to a complete stop for 6 months in order to recover from ignoring my inherent need for learning.
7| I didn’t go where my heart was calling.
I actually began my business with the goal of building websites. But as I was busy catering to incoming email marketing projects (which I am good at and still enjoy as well), I didn’t take the time to blog and make tutorials about web design (which I am changing now). I love designing websites and I love the visual language that translates onto the screen to convey a message or sell an idea. I am now doing more of that and I am happy about that change.
8| I didn’t take a real break.
Vacations? What vacation? I didn’t take a vacation and so never truly unplugged from the internet and from computers for more than a long weekend. Just like those old MTV unplugged sessions from the 90s, I realize I too need to completely unplug; take a break from life-as-usual. And finally this year, that’s exactly what I am doing.
Refuel. Recharge. Take A Break.
So, I am now finally taking a three-week break and traveling to my birth country, India. I will be spending time in Northern India in the beautiful Himalayan mountains and be without internet or phone access for most of the time. I will be in Dharamsala which is also the adopted home of the Tibetan leader and inspiration, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. This is a very special time and I wish to return with much inspiration and energy back to my home in the North Carolinian mountains.
This has been a very vulnerable post for me to share all of this with you. I hope that in the sharing of it, you too will become aware of how you are doing things in your life and business. And I hope you are following your heart and taking care of your needs while you build your business, too. Please share in the comments what challenges you’ve had to face or are currently facing so we can support and inspire each other.
~ Peace Sophia
Hello there! Glad to meet you.
I am Sophia - the person behind this website. My intention is to provide useful content that helps solopreneurs, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations to build trust with their audience, grow the number of beloved fans as well as happy clients. I'm a Squarespace Authorized Trainer and a Certified ConvertKit Expert.
I love helping people through producing my weekly video tutorials and blogs, live workshops and online courses. Also, I work directly with clients in all aspects of content and email marketing strategy + implementation as well as designing high-converting Squarespace websites. Let me know in the comments if you've got a question and I'd be happy to help.