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Part of being an entrepreneur means having a lot of great ideas.

You have a great idea in the shower, while working on your latest project, or while talking to a client. 

But as much as you want to work on all your ideas, you know that’s not sustainable. You can’t do everything!

Being able to prioritize and focus on the most important thing is an invaluable skill set for an entrepreneur — but it’s not a skill set that often comes naturally. It takes time and work to build up that “prioritizing muscle.”

In this post, I’m going to talk about how I have cultivated a decision-making mindset, and how I figure out what’s important each day. Because I have been sidelined by Shiny Object Syndrome in the past, but I don’t want you to be!

So let’s talk about how to determine priorities as an entrepreneur and business owner — so you can do the work that makes an impact. 


My personal decision-making process

I want to kick things off by telling you about the three-part matrix I’ve used that has absolutely changed the way I think about goal setting and priorities. 

It’s how I know something is important because when I make a decision, it passes these three green lights.

  1. Will it move my business forward or backward? This is a neutral question, with no feelings or opinions attached. It just is what it is. 
  2. Will this decision affect the cash flow of my business? This is helpful to know because when I’m making decisions, it’s easy to get caught up in the weeds and pay too much attention to things that don’t matter that much big picture. I have to continually set my mind back on, “I am running a business here. We have to make a profit. It’s not just an expensive hobby. It’s got to work.”
  3. Is this urgent…really? If it’s not, then it can probably wait until I have time to work on it. 

Now that you know how I pick what’s important, the next six things are going to show you the strategy of how to determine priorities as an entrepreneur!


Tip #1: The Eisenhower Matrix

Good old President Ike. He developed this matrix to help explain decision-making, and it  essentially plays off of a four-part grid.

Eisenhower matrix

The things that are “most important” and also “not urgent” are going to be in one category, and those are the things that you probably need to set aside in your calendar.

Think about this being things like exercising, loving on your family, taking care of yourself, and developing your faith. The things that are bedrock pillars in your life or in your business that need attention for the other things on the grid to work.

And this probably goes without saying, but if something falls into the “not important” and “not urgent” boxes, then it’s honestly worth getting off your plate altogether. Delegating it, eliminating it, you get the idea. 


Tip #2: The Big Two

The next tip is a little learning I gleaned from Peter Drucker’s book, The Effective Executive — an old-school classic about leadership and business. 

In it, he talks about prioritizing the two most important things you can do for your biz each day. And I totally agree — I’ve found that focusing on just two things each day is my sweet spot. I’m able to get more done in less time and it helps me avoid shiny object syndrome. 

Give it a try — it might work for you too, especially if you’ve found the big three method to be a little too overwhelming!


Tip #3: Be consistent

The next tactic that I employ is looking at my goals every day. If not every day, at least multiple times during the week.

I also don’t really create annual goals, FYI. I have a vision of what the year is going to look like, but as far as the smart goals and making them measurable, I only do that for one quarter at a time.

But doing that has helped me with my daily goals. Every day when I sit down, I’m looking at what those goals are. And here’s the key to it all — part of being an entrepreneur is looking at those goals, yes, but also holding them with loose hands.

That way, if things fall through the cracks, or you need to shift, you’re not so bought into them that you can’t adjust. And if you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you know that’s bound to happen.

And trust me friends, letting go of that need for everything to be perfect can really work wonders for your productivity! Because truthfully, consistency is more important than “getting everything done” anyways.


Tip #4: The zero-sum game

If something is going into your calendar or to-do list, something’s gotta come out. You cannot do all of the things!

I’m sure you’ve heard quips about this, like, “If something isn’t a ‘heck yes’ then it’s not a yes,” but to me, this is so important. It’s one of those blanket mentalities that I bring into every single day. 

And this strategy is helpful because you have to get good at balancing your tasks to know what can be adjusted and what can’t.


Tip #5: Add numerical weight to each task

Give things a numerical weight if you’ve got it on your calendar. I always prioritize tasks from a level one to level three. Three is of the utmost importance, and ones are not so much. Nice to haves but not need to haves. 

Doing this helps me siphon through my tasks for the day and determine what’s the big two that need the most attention and are the highest priority.


Tip #6: Have a dedicated place to jot down ideas

Always, always, capture an idea or a task to put it somewhere safe. You won’t always be in a position to put your shower thoughts in your nice and neat Asana board when inspiration strikes. 

So make sure you’ve got somewhere you can write them down, like a notebook on your bedside table, or in the notes app of your phone. 

Having a system to tell your brain, “Great idea, brain. Not now. Now is not the time for that. We’re going to put that over here,” is a great, subconscious, way to help you file priorities in your head. 

Have that mantra on repeat in your head —  “That’s a great idea, but not right now.”

Want more time management tips? I’ve got you covered inside The Art of Efficiency

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Reading Time: 5 Minutes Part of being an entrepreneur means having a lot of great ideas. You have a great idea in the shower, while working on your latest project, or while talking to a client.  But as much as you want to work on all your ideas, you know that’s not sustainable. You can’t do everything! Being able […]

Productivity

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Did you know that 96% of businesses don’t make it to the 10-year mark? Now, I haven’t celebrated my decade-iversary yet, but I have made it to seven years. I’m getting pretty close.

But one thing I’ve learned in that time is that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. 

With seven years of experience under my belt, I can totally see why so many businesses fail or decide not to continue on. 

This stuff is hard!

Today, I want to share with you the truth about being an entrepreneur as I’ve experienced it. 

Whether you’re a seasoned vet or new on the scene, I hope my lessons help you feel seen — and maybe even prevent you from making a mistake or two along the way. 


First, some backstory

Just so you know where I’m coming from, I want to share some of my story with you. 

I started my business in 2016. I was in corporate marketing for years before that, and I loved it! When I first started my business, I actually provided copywriting and calligraphy, hence calling it Ashlyn Writes. 

Now I have an agency. I kind of feel like I have (and I’ve been told I have) two businesses under one roof. I have an agency side of my business where our team of copywriters and I service our one-on-one clients. 

Then on the curriculum side of my business, I equip people to be their own best copywriter, with The Copy Bar template shop. I also have several courses and a membership. 

Full transparency — I do not do this on my own, but I started out as a solopreneur and did it by myself for a while. But I have a great team by my side now!

So now that we have that out of the way (and so you know where I learned all these lessons from!), let’s get into it. 


Lesson #1: Consistency beats talent 

If you’ve ever read Chet Holmes before, he has the phrase, “It takes pigheaded discipline and determination.” I love that probably because it’s an ugly phrase, thus it sticks in my mind. But if you’re not exactly sure what that’s supposed to mean, it’s basically a fun way to say that you have to get gritty to stay in the game.

Entrepreneurship is about getting knocked down and then getting up all over again all the time. There will be hard times and difficult situations. 

You’re putting ideas out there. You may have a hypothesis about how it’ll be perceived, but you’re never quite sure until you get it out into the world

And when you fail, you have to be consistent with getting back up and trying again. 

It’s like you’re in the office, hacking at a piece of marble, sculpting it like Michelangelo, and then at the end of the day, you put your tools down and leave. 

Then you come back the next day and do it all over again. That’s the work t it takes. 


Lesson #2: You need to be good at saying no

If you run a business, you’ve gotta get good at saying no. 

You’ve probably learned fairly quickly that there are lots of ideas to explore. But not all those ideas are worth your time, money, and energy.

I have a very clear vision and that keeps me going. A lot of times when I have to choose, I have to weigh things and think about what deserves my time. 

Even if the idea is alluring! 


Lesson #3: The only thing you can count on is change

In life and in business, I’ve learned that the only constant is change. I say this because I remember when I was starry-eyed and first started in business and everything was new and fun. 

And then I hit some rocky patches — and a lot of it had to do with change. Change would happen constantly and I felt like I couldn’t keep up.

I have felt like this about Instagram and Facebook ads, as well as some of the ways my niche has changed. 

You’ve gotta pivot. You’ve gotta change with the times. 

You kind of have to be on the cutting edge of things while simultaneously being consistent with what you do. 

So listen and be aware of what’s going on so you can adapt alongside it. 


Lesson #4: Discern the opinions of others

You don’t have to listen to every piece of advice. 

You’re constantly bombarded with it from several places. Every time you swipe on a social media app, you’re hearing more advice. It’s noisy out there! 

You’ll get criticism. 

You’ll hear advice you don’t agree with or know isn’t right for your right now. 

But not everything is going to be worth your time, and not everything will align with your values

So try to just stick with a few people you know you can trust and forget about the rest. 


Lesson #5: Master your craft

One thing people have told me over the years is they respect that I have stayed in my lane as a copywriter. 

I don’t usually venture too much outside of it. I’m fascinated with figuring out how to be the very best writer possible. 

A lot of times, when I’m sharing writing tips or things in my newsletters, it’s what I’m learning in real-time. I get so excited to share them because I love knowing they can help someone else! 

Another thing I’ll tell anyone who’s listening to do is to read the oldies. 

I could not be more enamored with older copywriting books, the ones that are decades to half a century old. I love seeing how things have changed, what hasn’t, and what I can learn from it.

Moral of the story: Always be a student!


Lesson #6: Expect good ideas to be copied

If it’s a good idea, expect it to be copied. And while you can’t always control when and where that will happen, you can be prepared. 

Like I told my members inside of Copywriting for Creatives, you need to do the following: 

  • Hire a good attorney: Have one you can trust and who has experience with online business. Have one that knows how to talk you off the ledge, when to be concerned, and when to take action. Good lawyers do a little bit of mindset work in there too.
  • Set up a guard dog system of layers: There are a lot of things that are going to be copied that you can’t really do anything about. If you can, filter it through your team or attorney first before you see it because, sometimes, it can be really discouraging. 

Lesson #7: Business thrives on relationships

Maybe you like being around people, maybe you don’t. Or maybe you’re like me and enjoy but need time to process. 

Regardless, business thrives on relationships!

That doesn’t mean you have to go out and constantly network, but it does mean you need to be the face of your business and foster strong connections where you can. 

Sometimes this means working on providing the best client experience possible. Or being a better leader for your team. 

But one thing’s for sure — you won’t regret making these connections!


Lesson #8: Building a team is hard

You can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t focus on building a solid team. You have a culture even if you don’t realize it, so make it a good one. 

It’s taken me a few years to get comfortable being in the leadership position of the business, but I’ve realized how important having a team is

You can’t do it all alone. At some point, you will need to delegate and outsource so you’re not constantly running on fumes. 

And it’s hard to give up that control — I see you! 

It’s also hard to get a grasp on managing everyone, but it’s SO worth it in the end because you’ll have more time to focus on running the business. 


Lesson #9: Ask for wisdom

I know I’m talking about faith for a minute and I might lose some of you, but figuring out how to have a small business with biblical principles is something I’m passionate about.

I pray for wisdom constantly. There’s a verse, James 1:5, that tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

And let me tell you, I need it every single day.

On the days I don’t feel like praying or asking for wisdom, I think about this Martin Luther quote where he says something to the tune of, “I’m so busy today that I could spend hours in prayer.”

It seems counterintuitive, but it’s the truth! 

It’s the days when I feel too busy and too stressed to slow down that I feel in over my head. 

So yeah, God is good and I’m thankful He gives wisdom (because boy, do I need lots of it!). 


Lesson #10: Feed your creativity

Being creative is a part of our job as business owners, even if you don’t think your job is inherently “creative.” 

A lot of this thing requires thinking outside the box, coming up with new ways to do things, and exploring those ideas. 

Truth be told, I have to work really, really hard at being creative. 

But I’ve found some ways that have worked well for me professionally over the past decade, some ways learned in a PR agency, and some learned on my own as a small business owner.

And in the video below, I pull back the curtain to show you how, on the outside in, you can be creative. 

Whether you’re an accountant or a graphic designer, we ALL have the ability to be creative, we just have to foster it in ways that work for us!

Reading Time: 6 Minutes Did you know that 96% of businesses don’t make it to the 10-year mark? Now, I haven’t celebrated my decade-iversary yet, but I have made it to seven years. I’m getting pretty close. But one thing I’ve learned in that time is that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  With seven years of experience under my […]

10 Hard Truths About Being an Entrepreneur

Business Tips

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You have a lot of superpowers as a service provider, but creating more time is not one of them! 

I love what I do as a service provider, and I love being able to do it as many times as I can without wearing myself out in the process. 

But I can’t be everywhere at once. 

There are only so many hours in the day, and eventually, your services will cap out. You can’t create more time.

But what are you supposed to do if you know you need to grow and make more money, but don’t have more time to dedicate to your clients? 

You productize your services — and that’s what I’m going to talk to you about today. 

Let’s look at how to productize your service, including how to create a repeatable system that you can do over and over again while still giving people that high-quality, white glove service they expect from you!


What does it mean to “productize your services”? 

Why would you even want to productize your service? 

Some of the best advice I have ever heard is to build a business that is sellable. Even if you never want to sell. 

While, yes, I’ve built a business that could potentially sell in its entirety, I took this business to mean something a little bit different. 

I think about selling bits and pieces of it — turning the services I provide into something to sell instead. 

But what are the benefits of productizing your services?

Provide a high-quality experience in less time

When you productize your services, you’re able to promise the same results, again and again, without extra time or edits. 

Manage time and resources better

Productizing your services means you know exactly how long something will take you. No more guessing or wondering if you’ll still be profitable because the client had so many changes! 

Writing proposals becomes easier 

Writing proposals is a heck of a lot easier. Sarah, who is the head of the side of my biz, once said, “If you cannot get a proposal out the door in under 30 minutes, it’s too custom.” Yes and amen. 

Sales calls are easier

Don’t we all want sales calls or pitches to be easier? You can skip that freakout moment on the call where you’re not quite sure how to price something.

With products, there’s none of that. You can skip all the drama and get right to the good stuff (making money!).

People see you as an expert

Being able to have a specific, productized service gives off a little less of” jack-of-all-trades” vibes — and way more “this person knows their stuff” vibes.

It makes it easier to sell

When you have a productized offer that’s clear and easily accessible, people can essentially self-select into that offer without needing a discovery call, proposal, etc.

That’s less time from “interest” to “invoice paid.”

Create multiple revenue streams

The average millionaire has seven streams of income. You can’t be a millionaire from services alone by that logic! 

This is why I created my digital product shop (and have thousands of buyers who are happy with their purchases). Because of the shop, I’m still able to serve clients in a 1:1 capacity, too. 

If you want to “create more time” in your business, it boils down to productizing your services. You can serve more people in less time, without burning yourself out. And make more money! 

The key is to know what you’re an expert in, find a way to create a system that other people can follow, and create products that help them follow those steps easily. 


How to productize your services

Now that we’ve covered why you should productize your services, let’s talk about how

While you can create digital products that are standalone offers, you can also create a more “productized” service that is a few steps away from your more bespoke packages.

Go through every single task in your client process

Write every step that you follow to complete a client project. You have the onboarding, yes, but what do you do to actually deliver your clients’ services?

Is there a template involved? A form? A specific set of steps you follow? 

Next to each “task,” add how much time (to the 15-minute mark) it takes for each task. On custom projects, there will be more tasks to sort through, and obviously, the smaller ones will have less. 

But ultimately, doing this will show you the process from a bird’s eye view, and you can start to see things that can be repeated over and over again in a product. 

For example, let’s say you’re an SEO strategist. As part of your process, you might start running a client’s website through your proprietary SEO checkpoints. 

That can be a product all by itself — whether it’s a productized service (a quick SEO report following your process) or a checklist/DIY training!

Give people options

When you work with 1:1 clients, every project feels a little bit different and there’s some nuance. In my agency, we found a great way to work with that by having an a la carte menu of more productized services.

This includes email templates, launch templates, etc. that help them execute on what we deliver in a 1:1 package, while also not requiring more work from us!

How can you give your clients options to tailor their project, while still keeping it within your specified confines of time

The best solution that I found over time with this is making sure that you have some way for people to tailor their time to yours. 

Whether you have power hours or strategy calls or they can buy a half-day, it’s all about blending that DIY or productized element with a more hands-on touch. 

This is so valuable because it helps people feel cared for in a more “custom” sense, but doesn’t require every ounce of your time to do. 


Make your business even more efficient

I’m borderline obsessive about my time in my business, mainly because I’m a mama and I love being able to be offline and with my family. 

This means I’ve definitely got to have systems in place. That’s exactly why I decide to productize my services. 

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. 

You’re an expert in what you do. 

Make sure that you’re giving your clients the best experience by getting as much of your brain as possible on their product, while also prioritizing your time away from the biz (because yes, that does matter to client work too). 

If you want more efficiency tips like these, these are the kinds of things you’ll learn inside the Art of Efficiency

This is a 3-stack, 3-week system for designing your most productive weeks. 

Essentially, I’ve bottled up my step-by-step productivity process for creative entrepreneurs — and I want to share it with you!

The waitlist is open and you’ll be the first to know when we get started! 

Join me here!

Reading Time: 4 Minutes You have a lot of superpowers as a service provider, but creating more time is not one of them!  I love what I do as a service provider, and I love being able to do it as many times as I can without wearing myself out in the process.  But I can’t be everywhere at […]

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We're a boutique copywriting business and marketing curriculum source for creatives like you. You should know this is no jack-of-all-trades sitch: I play favorites, and my faves are small business owners. Even while raking in more than 7-figures since I've been at it, I believe working from a place of rest (not hustle) IS possible—and I want the same for you.

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FOUNDER & CEO OF ASHLYN WRITES

Hey hey, I'm Ashlyn!

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