Five Things I’ve Done to Become a Better Boss Babe
You may have noticed that I’ve been on quite the professional journey since I started Sweet Sauce. I designed and launched this blog three years ago. Since then, I’ve left my last 9-to-5 job and tried out several different freelance career opportunities–writing, special events management, social media management, styling, the blog and more. After a lot of trial, error, and faith, I’m finally starting to visualize what I want my life to look like as a boss babe. I’ve starting saying “No” to the things I’ve learned I don’t enjoy. I’ve started saying “Yes” and developing new ideas around things I do want to do.
What am I doing more of? Writing and creating content. That includes my work here on Sweet Sauce, writing for a variety of publications, and developing content (mostly writing) for different businesses and brands I am passionate about. You can read some of my work here.
Your boss babe life might not look the same as mine. In fact, it probably doesn’t. I bet I’ve learned a few things along the way you could learn and grow from. Many of these tips I’ve picked up from fellow boss babes in Richmond and beyond. I’m putting these key lessons to work as I kick off January:
I thought I could operate on my own little professional island when I started this freelance and entrepreneurial adventure. That’s just plain silly. It’s much better to work with other business owners who are doing great work already. It’s all about identifying your strengths and strengths in people you meet. They do something really well. You do something really well. You might be doing something they need more of. Why not go in on a project together? This has already started to reap benefits for me. I’ve pitched ideas to other businesses alongside other business owners. We leverage our influence and knowledge by bringing BOTH of our ideas and expertise to the table.
This concept isn’t just for entrepreneurs. I can see this working really well in an office environment. If your department sees a gap in another department and you have an idea to fix it, then reach out to the other department. Share your idea. They may not like it, but they may love it. If the latter is the case, you can work out the details to the solution and bring it to your boss. You both look good. Your company flourishes as a result. It all starts with putting yourself out there. This brings me to the next point.
I used to prefer emails over meeting in person. Conflict was never my favorite thing. Now, I’m 30, driven, and I have really great ideas. (Okay, they aren’t all home runs, but more of them are at least base hits these days.) I have small daily goals and big annual goals. The only way to reach those goals is by solving problems that stand in the way. If the issues at hand are complex, then there is little chance it can be solved over email. So many social and emotional cues are lost over email. When you meet face-to-face, you reap a number of benefits. You can ask questions in the moment. You can vibe off ideas organically. You can tell if someone is excited, sad, bored, annoyed, or confused.
If I have an idea about a business or project, I set up a meeting. If I have a complex collaboration idea, I set up a coffee with that person. If I need to develop a plan or strategy, I set up a meeting with the right people. I feel so much more accomplished after these in-person meetings. I know nothing was left unasked or unsaid. I make sure I have my marching orders at the end and so do my counterparts. While blocking off an hour might feel like a time trap, you actually save time at the end of the day if you can hammer it all out in one sitting and start moving ahead immediately after. You also learn how to communicate effectively with different types of people. This is important if you are working with someone for a long period of time. Knowing how they best like to communicate will save you time and stress in the long run. Set up that meeting, boss babe. I promise it will help you.
Investing in Education
I remember being so eager to leave college. I felt like sitting in a classroom was never as rewarding as getting out there and actually working. I loved finally getting to work. Each 9-to-5 job I held offered an educational budget, however. I was able to use these funds to increase my knowledge in my field and stay abreast of new trends and best practices. That included seminars, day-long classes, workshops and even college classes if I wanted. As I stepped out of this corporate cushion, I stopped investing in my personal education. This happened for a few reasons. Firstly, I felt like I had the knowledge I needed. I also had a workaholic attitude. If I wasn’t working, I was wasting time. I also felt closed off from other professionals doing the same things as me in my town. I don’t know if it was a fear of not having found my focus yet or some sort of competitiveness holding me back. I just didn’t make the effort. Shame on me.
Well, now I’m here with a brand new LLC and a new sense of focus for my career and life. I’ve decided I want to be the best. I may know 50% of what I learn at a seminar, but I learn something new for 50% of the rest of the seminar. I can apply that new knowledge to recruit new projects and advance projects I’m already working. The return on my investment will come back quickly. I’ve registered for a variety of lunches and seminars over the next couple months. I also plan to attend a conference or two this year. After all, I can write it off now!
A major bonus for all of this extra education? The networking. You never know who you’ll meet. Maybe it’s anew client, maybe it’s someone who can refer clients to you, maybe it’ll be someone you can text when you’re having a mental block.
Leaving It To the Experts
I was under the impression I could DIY my whole career. I could build my own websites, manage my own books, and make money off of anything. Turns out, that’s f*cking exhausting. Also, you won’t produce high quality work if you have 50 different focuses pulling you in different directions. As I’ve narrowed down my list of freelance services, I’ve decided focus more on my creative energy and less on the details of my business. That means someone else has to do that. Someone who is highly qualified to do that. Someone who has strengths I do not have.
This boss babe as hired an accountant. Bless her. She’s getting me organized after letting my income and expenses run free and unmonitored for a year or two. I thought I would take the time to do it and I just kept putting it off. She’s not only helping be paint a profit and loss picture each month, but she’s helping me categorize my streams of income. Based on this info, I can make better decisions about where to invest my time and effort.
Other things I’ve been considering hiring out for: website updates, day-to-day administrative work, and video creation.
I do a lot of my work digitally. There’s no telling how many thousands of words and photos I’ve written and taken all over Google Docs, my desktop, my phone and on digital recorders. thankfully I got a new laptop last year, so that is pretty organized. But, I’ve filled up Google Docs on three different email accounts–each one representing a different arm of my professional life. I’ve created folders upon folder to store notes, ideas, finished products, photo sets and more. This allows me to easily find what I need wherever I am. I can even access Google Docs on my phone. larger clients have similar folders on my desktop to match.
Then there’s the problem of my iPhone photos. Goodness. If you looked through my phone last year, it would have probably stressed you out. I always fill up my memory quickly on phones. I take photos for all of my clients, my blog and am often the photographer and family events and outings with my friends. I’ve started to create folders in my iPhone for different photos. I archive them there for later use. This helps me access photos based on business purposes, different families (yes I have a few), travel photos, blog photos and more. I’m more efficient because I know where all of these images are. I also delete more photos because I can assess my photo needs more easily. I don’t need 15 photos of a coffee cup at Front Porch Cafe for Virginia’s River Realm. I just need one or two.
I know there is more to come for me on this topic this year. I plan to keep sharing with you on my boss babe journey. From how to be a better writer, to how to dress for a coffee meeting, to how to get ready for taxes, I’m going to start sharing my lessons and knowledge right here on Sweet Sauce. I hope you stay tuned!
Shop this Look:
No use being a boss babe if you don’t dress the part.