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Mulberry & moss

A Time for Hustling and a Time for Rest: Navigating Seasons of Your Business

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April 28, 2022

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Hi, I'm sarah w.

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Hey there flower friends, welcome back to the Coffee Wine & Flowers podcast, episode 9. Is this year flying by for anyone else? We are almost 4 months into the year, it is the end of april, and we are halfway through Spring. And, I don’t know about you guys, but this Spring season feels different this year. Spring is a sign of new beginnings and I am really feeling that this year more than ever. Some of you who follow me on instagram   know that my husband and I bought and moved into our first home in January. As we navigated moving outside of Orange County I had to make some important decisions about where my business was headed and this led me to make some big changes in my business at the beginning of this year, deciding what to focus on and what I needed to let go of. I started this podcast, and I’m so grateful for those of you who have been tuning in and who have decided to come along and join me in this new season of my journey. It definitely feels a lot more meaningful just being able to share in it with all of you and I definitely have a sense of peace that this is where I’m supposed to be. 

So speaking of seasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about how – just like the seasons change throughout the course of the year – in our businesses we go through seasons as well. And those seasons may be unique for every person and tied to where you’re at in your personal journey, but there are actually some distinct seasons that I think all of us experience at one time or another, throughout the course of our business. Though the timing of these different seasons might vary for each of us, we all share similar experiences having to do with the season of business that we are in. And we don’t always know what season we’re in, or when it’s time to transition into a new season, or how to effectively and gracefully make that transition… until we’ve gone through it and are looking back and able to recognize and say that was a season.

For me, I can look back and say that there were definitely a handful of seasons that I went through, and each of them looked quite different. But what’s beautiful is just like seasons in life, each one had it’s purpose. 

Since the beginning of this podcast I’ve been sharing with you some tips and lessons that I’ve learned – decisions I’ve made that have helped my business such as narrowing in on my strengths, setting boundaries with pricing and minimums, simplifying and streamlining to grow my revenue, and several other topics that stem from lessons I’ve learned over the years. But those all have to do with the seasons I’ve been through, and the season I find myself in today. But for some of you, some of these things may not feel as relevant to where you’re at now, and that’s okay. One of the challenges of this podcast is sharing value that is relevant to as many of you as possible. I think it’s important for me to acknowledge that all of us are navigating our own season, and will not always align with each other in exactly where we’re at. And I would like to shed some light on some of those earlier seasons that I went through, and seasons that many of us go through early on in our businesses, in addition to the seasons that come with time and with experience. Because you can’t always jump straight to the end. You really have to feel your way through it. And whatever season you’re in now, you’re not meant to skip over it. The season you’re in now is serving a purpose, and it is exactly where you’re supposed to be. 

When I think about different seasons I’ve experienced in my business, I think there are 4 main ones that we go through in running a business, and just like the natural seasons we experience in the course of the year, these seasons are a cycle and that cycle repeats itself throughout the course of our business. Each season serves a necessary purpose in propelling our business forward, and recognizing when it’s time to transition between those seasons is a helpful perspective and important skill to hone if we want to continue moving forward and not stay stuck in one place. 

So in today’s episode, I want to talk about these four seasons in depth, how to recognize what season you are in, what’s required of you in that season, and how to know when it may be time to transition to the next phase. 

Season of Hustle

The first season that I want to identify is the Season of Hustle. Many of us are well familiar with the hustling phase. This is a season when you are really putting in work to build momentum in your business. During the hustling phase, we’re often putting in long hours, working overtime and pouring all of the energy we can spare into our business. You might be starting your business while still working a full time or part time job, and your business is a side hustle. Or, you might have taken the leap to devote yourself to your business full-time, but you’re working hard at building it from the ground up. 

The hustling season is often a season of investment. Meaning you are pouring as many resources as you can into your business. You might not be taking home a lot of pay at the end of the day, because you are re-investing that money into your business in order for it to grow. 

The hustling season often comes after a season of rest. Maybe you stepped away from your business for a period of time and you are having to build back up momentum. Or, maybe you are hustling to store away savings so that you can give yourself a much needed season of rest.

The hustling season is a season of action. It’s important during this phase to take as many opportunities as possible, and not just to wait for opportunities, but to seek them out. It’s important to use your time to practice your craft, experiment, and to learn as much as possible.

This season of hustle is crucial to the start of a new business, but it also comes back around later in your business journey, in times when we want to expand, adjust to the times, start a new leg of our business or level up. No matter when in your journey this hustling season occurs, it serves as a time for proving yourself, showing up loud and proud, getting in front of new eyes, and letting the world know what you have to offer. It can be a time for gaining new experience, learning, and experimenting to figure out your place. It can be a time for building relationships and forming new connections through participating in as many opportunities as possible. All of the lessons learned, connections formed and experience gained in a season of hustle will be the foundation for you to build and grow your business into the next phase.

Season of Abundance

The next season is the season of Abundance. This is when you start reaping the benefits of the seeds sewn in the hustling phase. After putting in the work, you start to see the fruits of your labor. In the wedding industry, this may look like leads starting to come in more steadily through connections you’ve formed with planners or building a referral base, starting to get busier without having to go out and seek out work, and money is flowing without you having to focus so much on self marketing. The season of abundance is a beautiful thing the first time you experience it. When you’ve hustled and put in the work, this abundance season is a fulfilling reward and when it comes, you may feel a sense of relief and might even be able to allow yourself to take your foot off the gas a little bit and coast. Or, you may double down and continue to hustle through this abundance phase. The abundance season still involves a lot of work, and you’re still hustling to some extent as the flow of work comes through, but you’re not having to work as hard to go and get that work. 

During the season of abundance, there is an abundance of opportunity. You have options, choices, and different avenues set before you. Sometimes you may need to decide which path to take. This is a time when it’s important to start giving some thought to your desired business model, what you might like your life to really look like and what direction you would like to take your business. This might influence the way you navigate the options and the choices set before you. 

Sometimes when we are in the abundance phase, we are still stuck in the hustling mindset. Although we have built up momentum, because we are still hustling quite hard to keep up with the work, we don’t often have time to take a step back to assess and realize that unlike when we started, the difference now is that we are in high demand. When you’re in high demand, that means you are in a position to be able to start making some of the demands. To charge a little bit more. To adjust your process to serve you and your business better. To serve and accommodate a higher demand, you have to start to legitimize your operation, tidy things up a bit more. This new level that you’ve reached calls for a certain level of professionalism. You might decide to expand your space, add more people to your team or invest in systems to help you meet the demand. And all of these things come at a cost. It’s important in this phase of abundance to recognize that it calls for certain changes and alterations to be made to the way you may be used to doing things. But know that it’s a very positive thing that these changes are happening, because it means that you are progressing forward.

Season of Transition

Sometimes in our business, we reach a fork in the road or we come to a point where we need to make changes in order to move forward. This is when we find ourselves in a season of transition. When I look back on the past 10 years since starting my business, I can remember many different seasons of transition. There was the time when I decided to quit my part time job so that I could devote full time to my business, there was the time I decided to invest in my studio, there was the time when I decided to get my finances in order, to restructure my pricing and minimums and really crack down on profitability to make way for building a liveable salary that served my goals. There was the time when I moved a bit outside the city and decided to reevaluate my business priorities, and let go of some of my services and focus primarily on weddings and education. Each time we face a new change or opportunity, some changes have to be made in our business in order to lead our business towards where it needs to go in order to reach our goals. Sometimes we may be faced with tough choices. We may need to shed some dead weight that isn’t contributing to our overall goals. But it’s those tough transitions that allow us to make space for new growth. Without the transitional phase, we would just stay stuck in the same place, not growing or evolving, which can be fine if your business is performing and producing and you are completely content with where you’re at. But also if you’re not thinking critically about your business and evaluating what’s working, what’s not working and what could be better, you could be missing opportunities to refine and hone your business into something even better than you ever thought possible. It’s the seasons of transition that make the impossible possible. But in order to make those transitions really work for you, you have to commit to them and really stay focused on the end goal. Keeping a zoomed out perspective on your business will be especially important in any transitional phase. Change is not always easy, but it’s necessary for growth. 

Season of Rest 

The fourth and last season that I want to talk about is the season of rest. One unpoplular opinion that I believe wholeheartedly is that rest is productive. For certain personality types that thrive in an ambitious, hustling mindset, embracing seasons of downtime can be especially hard. Sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to rest because we believe it means that we’re going to fall behind, lose momentum, or lose the work that we’ve put in. But the truth is that what you’ve built is not going anywhere, and sometimes rest is exactly what you need to be able to give it the next necessary push your business needs. If you think about trees and plants they go dormant in the winter time and they shed all of their leaves and take a nice long nap so that come Spring time, they can burst into bloom. And I know that’s not exactly how it works in business – I wish I could take a three month long nap and then wake up to my bank account blowing up but that’s not exactly how it works. But on some level, rest is important and necessary to be able to produce fully and that your best. And I think in our businesses rest is something that we so easily neglect. 

Our bodies need rest after every week, and our minds need rest after months or a year of running on overload – which for many of us who are practically running everything ourselves in our businesses, keeping a million balls in the air, we are very familiar with the overwhelm that comes with the job. Giving yourself a mental break can allow your brain to essentially heal from all the work it’s been putting in. Our brains get tired and we need a break. Quite honestly, these past couple of week have pushed me to my limits. I’m finding myself very much in need of a break and we’re only at the beginning of wedding season. I try my best to carve out moments in my monthly schedule for rest where I allow myself to not think about work. And if I can’t carve out that time because I’ve allowed my schedule to become jam packed, I will take any spare hour or even 10 minutes in my schedule and lean into those times of relaxation to switch my brain off and give it a rest. 

And it’s those lengthier downtimes that are a great time for us to switch off for a couple of weeks or even a month if you can afford to, so that you can return when you’re ready with more power and more strength. Seasons of rest can last a few days or they can last a few months or even a year. It is however long you need to be able to recover, regroup and come back full force with a clean slate, a rested body, and a fresh mindset. 

Seasons of rest are a good time for reflection. A few years back it was common for me to have a very  busy month in December. I would finish off wedding season strong, and then shift gears straight into holiday season, in which a very blank calendar would quickly fill up with holiday parties, freelance dates, wreath workshops, and decorating clients houses. The past two years I decided to take December off as a time of rest and reflection. I realized that while I often would have the intention of spending time on reflection during these slower times, I wouldn’t prioritize it, and as the small jobs would flood in, that time I had set aside would get pushed to the back burner and then before I knew it, january would come and new inquiries were hitting my inbox before I had a chance to catch my breath. But that reflection time that I was pushing aside involved some really important work – like reflecting on what worked well in that year and what didn’t work, brainstorming ways that I could improve and refine my process, and putting systems in place to make things run more smoothly for me and my team the following year. When we rob ourselves of that time of rest and reflection, we are often slingshotted right into the next busy season without taking a beat. And if in the past year we have experienced stress and overwhelm, we are signing ourselves up for another full year of that same stress and repeated problems without having necessary time away to regroup. I guarantee that to anyone listening now, you could probably afford to give yourself a bit more time for rest in your week, month, and year. 

How do you recognize what season you’re in? 

So, now that I’ve talked about each of these different seasons of our businesses, I’d like to pull this apart a bit further because, while sometimes it’s easy to identify what season you’re in, other times it can be not-so-clear. Like when you have a relatively new business for example, and you’re not yet familiar with the ebbs and flows.

Recognizing Seasons of Hustle

Generally when we first start out in our business we are in the hustling phase. A significant and sometimes lengthy season of hustle is often required to get ourselves established and get those roots in place. I think this is often the season that can last the longest and can be really hard on a lot of us while we are just getting going. Sometimes we find ourselves waiting for success to happen, and we don’t realize that we are in a season of hustle. And maybe we are hustling, and wondering why things aren’t happening, but we just haven’t been hustling long enough, or, we’re not hustling hard enough. In business, you don’t wait for things to happen. You have to make them happen and that’s a lesson that we all go through early on. And it’s often a test of how bad we want our business to succeed, and what we are willing to pour into it in order to make our dream a reality. Even 10 years into my business, I still have to be reminded of this sometimes. That things don’t just come, you have to go and get them. Especially when you’re in a season of hustle. So a good indicator that you’re in a hustling season is when you’re waiting for a result, but not seeing the results as easily or as quickly as you’d like. Another indicator that you’re in the hustling season is when you’re experiencing burnout. It’s okay to experience burnout, and it can be more assuring to know that what you’re going through is serving a purpose. You’re putting in the work now so that you can reap the benefits later on. 

Recognizing Seasons of Abundance

But remember that it’s important to recognize when you’ve moved into the abundance phase. If opportunities are flowing freely, you don’t have a reason to feel burnt out. Don’t put yourself through unnecessary burnout by denying yourself seasons of rest when you can afford to, or pausing to make the adjustments necessary to be able to transition into the next phase where you can work a little less, and still earn consistent revenue.

Recognizing Seasons of Rest

On the flipside of burnout, you might find yourself in a season of downtime, but you don’t recognize this as a period of rest. Sometimes when things are slow, we’re hard on ourselves. This is understandable if you’re anxiously awaiting income to pay your bills (which is a feeling we often encounter in the hustling phase) but other times, we can afford to rest but we simply deny ourselves that rest or worse, feel guilt when we allow ourselves to rest. Learning to identify and embrace seasons of rest is a healthy step in steady and consistent growth. 

When you find yourself in a season of downtime and you’re feeling restless, try to assess how you’re feeling, assess the circumstances – can you afford to take a break? If the answer is yes, then you should probably take one. Embrace the downtime and lean into that time and allow it to do good on your soul. A couple years ago when the pandemic hit, we all found ourselves in a season of rest that we really weren’t ready for. Our world came to a halt and we were forced to take time away from work. All of us handled this differently. Some of us panicked at first and especially in the beginning when things were uncertain, it took a toll on a lot of our mental health. But I think by the end, we really started to embrace that space and gained a new appreciation for rest and work life balance. And I think many of us have been a little bit more protective of those boundaries moving forward. It’s good to protect that work-life balance and it’s something that I think all of us learned in the past year we could be a bit better at.

Recognizing Seasons of Transition

Now, let’s talk about what it looks like when you’re in a transition, or approaching a need for a transition in your business. One way is to recall the reason and purpose behind the season that you believe you’re currently in. For example, if you’re in the hustling phase, how long have you been in this phase? And what was your goal when you began hustling? Has the hustling served its purpose? Sometimes we get stuck in a season because we have gotten into a pattern and we think that it needs to stay that way or else everything will fall apart. The main reason why we hustle is to build momentum. But once you have that momentum if you just keep peddling you’re going to tire yourself out. And so its then that you can remind yourself it’s OK to downshift or even  just coast for a little bit so that you can regain energy for the next push. That balance is super important to maintain because if you are exhausted all the time that’s not doing any good to you or anyone else. 

If you’ve been hustling for a really long time and you find yourself feeling tired and burnt out, or perhaps even a bit jaded, it might be time to put some boundaries in place or start doubling down on the things that matter and are really working for you and your business and letting go of the deadweight so that you can shift into a higher gear, relax a little bit, put new systems in place, and allow those systems to start doing some of the work for you. Something it took me quite a few years to learn was that once I had momentum, I had more freedom than I realized to adjust some of my pricing and services, raise my minimums, and invest in systems to streamline and tighten up my process and in doing so it became possible for me to work a bit less without losing any revenue. I spent about three solid years in a hustling phase before I realized that I didn’t have to take every job that came my way in order to stay afloat. I really just needed to take a closer look at my finances and see where the significant revenue was coming from and really double down in those areas. If you are getting wedding inquiries left and right and you are locking in a high percentage of those, that probably means that you could raise your pricing and minimums a little bit and start taking a few less weddings at a higher price point. Turning down ones that are not a fit could make space for ones that are going to make you more money.

I talked about how seasons of rest are essential for us to be able to produce at our best. And you might feel like you are due for a season of rest but you feel that you cannot afford to take your foot off the gas. It’s true that exhaustion can be an indicator that it’s time for rest. But first I would look at why it is that you believe you cannot afford yourself that time of rest. If it’s because you don’t have a steady and consistent enough flow of income, it may just mean that you are still getting established and you just need to hustle it out a little bit longer. Like I said that very first season of hustle in a brand new business is often the longest and hardest, and many businesses don’t make it past that first one or two year stretch for that reason. So if you’re waiting for that consistent stream of leads, just know that this season of hustle that you’re in is crucial to the long lasting growth of your business, and just continue to do whatever you can think of to go out there and get those leads. But you also need to know that waiting is not what’s going to bring those leads to you. You have to do whatever you can to go out and get them.

If you are in the hustling phase and you are tired and exhausted, and due for some rest, but you feel that you can’t afford to rest, I want to give you some encouragement by letting you know that sometimes the hustling phase can be humbling. I remember when I was just starting out and there were seasons where I wasn’t sure if the business income was going to cut it. I thought my days freelancing were behind me, and I definitely thought I’d never go back to a 9-5 but in seasons where I was desperate, I took a part time job to get me through. And it’s important to know that doing what you have to do to supplement your income in hard times is not a sign that your business is failing or that you are taking a step in the wrong direction. Sometimes, it is taking a step in the right direction because the only way out is through.You have to allow your business the time and the space to grow, and sometimes that growth is a slow process. And while it’s generally true that the more time and energy you focus on your business, the faster it will grow, if you are drowning in expenses or debt, it will be tougher to gain that momentum. And the stress is also not good for your mental health. If it’s possible, it is wise to keep at least a part time job until you start to see a steady flow of leads at a 4-figure pricepoint. If this isn’t an option or maybe you’ve already quit your day job, just know that doing whatever it takes and whats best for your business could mean picking up another side hustle to supplement that business income and you don’t have to see that as a negative thing. Look at it more as giving your business what it needs to succeed. Taking the pressure off your business could be exactly what it needs.

Now, if you are feeling exhausted in the hustling phase and you have that steady flow of leads, but you’re not seeing the profit at the end of the month, and that’s keeping you from being able to take that much needed time for rest, it could be that you just need to revisit your pricing. If you’re exhausted and hustling but not growing, this can be an indicator that you’re giving too much away. If the leads are coming in that means that you have the momentum and – contrary to what we would have ourselves believe – you are not going to lose that flow of leads if you adjust your pricing. Sometimes we fear that if we raise our prices those leads are going to go away, they are going to go to somebody else. But in reality, increasing your pricing often does the opposite and it increases the quality of your leads and of your jobs, and you’re able to take fewer jobs while earning the same amount you were before. When you raise your prices, you upsize your pot and you give yourself a little more room to breathe, spread out and expand. You cannot keep yourself trapped in this hustling phase. It’s not meant to last forever. Hustling is not a sign of success. Success is growth, and growth requires change. 

Now, I feel like I’ve just about exhausted this topic but – I hope this has provided some clarity as to what season you’re experiencing, what you should be focusing on in that season and how to keep an eye out for indicators of when it might be time for a change. If you’re still having difficulty in the season you’re in, just remember your goals, listen to your gut, and think hard about whether it’s action, transition, or rest that is going to serve your business best right now, or if you’re in that season of abundance, simply just sitting back, celebrating your success and enjoying the fruits of your labor. This season of abundance is what I wish for all of you, no matter what phase you’re in now, and I’m pretty sure that no matter where you are, it’s just around the corner. 

That’s all for today. Thanks again for listening, be sure to give me a shoutout on IG if you enjoyed this episode, and have an amazing day.

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Welcome to my blog - where I'm serving up all the latest in weddings & design, plus (for all you solopreneurs out there) tips to grow your creative business. I'm all about sharing and keeping it real.

hey there! i'm sarah w.

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