I thought I knew how to manage my time and be productive as an extremely busy person. I thought I knew how to run my successful consulting business helping yoga and holistic wellness practitioners grow their businesses online. I thought I had things under control.
And then I had a baby.
Suddenly I learned what being truly busy meant. But then, through much craziness, experimentation, and sleep deprivation, I also learned how to work smarter and leverage my strengths more effectively. In the end, having my son actually pushed me to double my business, handling twice the number of product launches and bringing in 42% more revenue.
The lessons I learned can help any overwhelmed professional get better results with less stress.
Before I had my son in 2016 I had set up a great consulting business, but the truth was, I hadn’t really built a team so that I could step back from the business. Until that point I was the business.
Back then I had this fear that if I wasn’t actively running things, everything would fall apart. But having my son completely blew up the possibility of being in control all the time. As any parent can tell you, children are full of surprises. They will throw you for a loop on a regular basis. Have all the plans and structure you want, but they’ll often have other ideas. (My son, for instance, arrived four weeks early, exploding by carefully laid plans for handling his birth.)
Having a baby forced me to meet my fear of being out of control head on and walk through it. I hired new team members and gave them more freedom and responsibility. I saw them grow to become leaders in their own areas and take full ownership of their work. And despite my initial worries, everything worked out great. My business has never been stronger and that’s because I walked through that door. Relinquishing control helped my business thrive.
When I say I doubled my business after having my son, I don’t mean I doubled my number of clients. In fact, in the year following his birth I consciously decided not to take on any new clients. It was a scary leap of faith, but deciding to rely on my existing customers forced me to focus relentlessly on what matters most to my business: revenue.
I honed in on the 20% of activities where I could grow the bottom line of my existing client base. That meant focusing on products that people actually wanted and clients were excited to deliver and then going all in on those launches, rather than scattering our attention on many offers. We also leveraged the content we already had, streaming it across multiple channels to reach more people with the same effort. This effort revealed to me how much of my time was being wasted on low-impact activities before, and how many opportunities I hadn’t seized.
You don’t have to have a baby to do this. Set a period of time where you commit to only maximizing your current activities rather than taking on new projects and see how many opportunities you’ve been missing.
Before I became a parent, I was more careless with my time. I didn’t finish a task during the week? No problem, I’d just work on the weekend. But now my weekends are devoted to my family and I have to make the most of every hour at work. That has driven me to finally get around to creating systems and procedures to streamline my business.
Now I have a template for each process, a checklist we all go through, which also helps me hand off responsibilities. We use Asana to manage our tasks and Slack to streamline our communications. This isn’t groundbreaking stuff. I always knew these sorts of systems would benefit my business, but it was always just easier to shove them onto the back burner. Now they’re in place, however, I’ve freed up so much time to work on things that really matter.
Empowering others, focusing on high-impact activities, and organizing for efficiency allowed me to double my business at exactly the moment I had way less time and energy for my company. If a time-pressed new mom could see such huge gains from such simple changes, imagine what they could do for busy professionals who aren’t subsisting on three hours of sleep a night.
Originally published on Business Insider.
More from Business Insider:
Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.