I want to share something that has been on my mind a lot lately. I came across this from another entrepreneur and it resonated so much with where I was at the time – at a point in my business where I chose to make a huge pivot and the reasons for that pivot. Let’s begin the story!
As you know, when you’re growing as a freelancer or business owner, a lot of your goals are monetary, profit-based, or based on the number of clients you have. There is nothing wrong with those numbers as they keep lots of people really motivated to grow their business! In the beginning, being really tied into your revenue goals like that is helpful for motivating you to keep pitching, bringing on clients, and finishing work on time to convert clients to retainers. The problem with those types of goals, however, is when that number becomes the ONLY way that you measure your success – by hitting that next milestone.
The Honest Truth
The first year that I set my goal of crossing the $200,000 mark in revenue, I hit that goal! But… I felt absolutely nothing after doing it. I wasn’t excited. I wasn’t celebrating. I felt absolutely no motivation to increase my revenue goal to $250K or $300K.
This is what every business coach tells you: “If you’re not expanding and bringing in more then you’re not doing it right.” That statement has never sat well with me because people have different motivations for running their businesses. If your motivation in growing your business is to hit $100K, seven figures, or whatever it is just roll with that. That is your authentic thing driving you forward. If you don’t have that as your primary motivator, that is okay
Company of One
I want to share one resource that I love with you. It’s a great book by Paul Jarvis called Company of One. It’s about intentionally keeping your business at a very particular level so that you can enjoy life. It’s also about the idea of having an Enough Number. A lot of advice in the business world is to set higher and higher revenue numbers. For a lot of people, what scaling looks like in reality for them is working more and more hours. This becomes a point where it is no longer connected with your soul and your reason for being in business. It becomes a very empty pursuit of money for some people. That doesn’t have to be you.
I had never felt as empty in my business as I did when I crossed that $200,000 milestone several years ago. I set that goal and I put the background on my phone – the amount of money I needed to make before the end of the year. I was constantly channeling what each month was going to have to look like for me to hit that goal. It felt super empty. For the longest time, I thought there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t get motivated to take that goal and turn it into a bigger goal. If this resonates with you, you will love the concept of an Enough Number.
Everyone’s Enough Number will look different for them. The basic concept is: the amount of money that you need coming in to sustain your lifestyle, to pay your business bills, pay your taxes, and hopefully leave a little bit extra over for your savings and your retirement. The goal is to aim your business in alignment with that number and not pressuring yourself to go too much farther than that.
So – because some other Freelancer is having $10K months, they may have awful clients or some of those may be one-time projects. I always tell my coaching clients to never take someone else’s social media posts too much to heart and use it in despair of yourself. The Enough Number is about more than just the financial aspect. Take it one step further and ask yourself, “What is enough of me working in my business during the week? What is the hour number after which I feel drained?” By pushing beyond this number, you may not be doing your best work and you may not even be serving clients In the best way.
If you can push back against this idea of “more, more and more”, especially when it isn’t serving you or when it’s making you miserable, then you can start to realign your business with what works best for you.
Focus on YOUR Business
Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about where you’re at in your business. I recognize the irony of saying this, as the author of a book called The Six Figure Freelancer. I tried to put this as early in the book as possible – six figures does not have to be YOUR answer. Maybe you want a killer part-time business working 15 to 20 hours a week. There is nothing wrong with that because working 15 to 20 hours per week might get you to your Enough Number.
For me, I had such a shift in my life after years and years of working really hard and really long hours and I had to re-evaluate what my Enough Number looks like. Where could I cut myself off from workaholic tendencies and burnout? I felt so disconnected to the money part of it. I felt like I could set a goal to hit $250K or $300K but what is that really going to do for me? I couldn’t connect to that number personally. I did lots of money mindset work around that number and tried to refocus it and I realized the goal wasn’t financial for me.
When you start your business, it’s 100% on you. You are the Vice President of every department in your company. You may work 60 or 70 hour weeks because you have that fire in your belly to make this work and get this business off the ground. The beautiful thing is if you get tired of that you can walk away. You can think, “Alright, my business goals are different. I hit $100K and it’s great but now I want to see how I can make my money work for me. If I’m making more money, how am I investing it? Am I hiring the right people in my company to support me? Am I hiring or outsourcing things in my personal life so that I show up and do $1,000 an hour work for my clients?”
Finding your Enough Number
I want you to really think about this – what is your Enough Number? To calculate your Enough Number, start with the amount of income you need to bring in financially to cover bills and business expenses. If it feels low, add an extra $500 or $1000 as a cushion in case anything goes wrong. Your Enough Number might also include the number of hours worked per week or amount of energy you have to expend to market and convert your clients. Here’s what I love about this exercise – It’s often much less than you think. We have it in our heads that we have to make $5K – $20K a month. Figure out what that number looks like for you and continue that exercise into your business to reflect that you don’t need to generate 20k months or you don’t have to work 50 hours a week to sustain a $20K a month. Ask yourself – can I scale this down to make my enough number or a little more than my enough number so I feel really good every month that I’m covering what I need to but I’m not putting myself into burnout mode?
One of the first things most of my coaching clients say to me is, “I don’t want to hire other freelancers to do my client work. Can I still scale to six figures if I’m the only one doing the work?” And the answer is YES. I don’t outsource any of my work and I know a lot of successful freelancers who have that same approach and model in their business. They have an intention of what enough looks like for them and that may be generating $100K or $150K per year where they have one or two assistants on a small team, software subscriptions that help them run their business well, and marketing methods they can turn to if they ever need to bring in more money. They might see that for them to go to $300K would require outsourcing to another Freelancer. They might think, “Yeah, I could make $300K but based on what I’m offering right now, I don’t see me being happy with that in the long run so am I going to ride right here at $100K – $250K as my Enough Number? OR am I going to start using some of my time now to rearrange my business so that it looks and feels good at the $300K level?” The key thing to remember is – the Enough Number will be different for everybody. If you are not earning as much as someone else in their business, there is nothing wrong with you especially if you aren’t questing after that lifestyle.
For so many years, we’ve heard a push for “Work harder. Hustle longer. Get up earlier. Stay up late. Put in nights and weekends.” If you’re the type of person that doesn’t resonate with, set your Enough Number and let things other than money come back to you. It may be a 10 hour a week business where you get to spend the rest of that time with your family, working on an educational pursuit, or trying out a new hobby. That’s your Enough Number and no one should ever make you feel bad about it.