Growing your creative business is hard work, and if you’re running the show alone, it’s really more like taking on three (or more) roles all at once. If the day-to-day management of your business is eating into the time you need to do your creative work, or burning you out, it’s probably time to think about scaling yourself.
What does it mean to scale yourself?
Scaling yourself is an opportunity to extend the impact of your creativity, skills, effort, and energy — and to get you out of the weeds. It’s all about finding ways to make the most of you. Hiring someone, outsourcing or automating tasks, auditing your current workflows to make them more efficient, and reprioritizing how you spend your time can all be helpful tactics for getting you there.
So, where do you start?
How about right here? We’ve put together an exercise to help you reflect on where you are with clarity and purpose so you can determine your best next steps to scale yourself up. We’ll help you map and prioritize what needs to get done, and walk you through making a plan. We also have resources linked throughout to help you realize your plan.
Ready to go? Carve out an hour so, [download this spreadsheet to work with], and let’s get started.
Part 1: Getting organized
First, catalog your tasks
Before you map a path to your ideal outcome, it’s helpful to start with a comprehensive look at where you are today. Open up the spreadsheet and list all the tasks you do for your creative business, Patreon-related or not. Nothing is too big or too small.
You can also include things you think you should be doing today but don’t have time for right now. But don’t worry about figuring out what you need to be doing a year down the line — for this exercise focus on today.
Next, grade those tasks
Now you’ll grade your tasks on the following, using a 1-4 scale, with 1 as the low end, and 4 as the high end. Think about:
- How much you like doing it. Knowing what really fulfills you will help you prioritize your own to-do list later.
- How much impact the task has on the business. Tasks that don’t make an impact might be unnecessary busy work or might need to be revamped or reframed so their impact is greater.
- How much effort or time it takes. This is key to helping you manage your own time and identifying what changes will be most impactful to your schedule.
Then, clean house
Before you start delegating tasks, take a look at your current list and see if there are any tasks you can eliminate, reduce, optimize, or otherwise change for the better. Your goal is to edit your list down to what truly needs to be done, and to get rid of inefficiencies or any unnecessary time sucks.
Take a particularly close look at the following:
- Anything low impact (especially rated a 1) but high effort (especially rated a 4). Most of the time, you’ll want to either cut these tasks or revamp them to be much easier and more useful.
- Anything low impact in general. If it’s not “moving the needle,” somehow key to keeping the business afloat, or bringing you joy, consider whether it’s worth it.
For anything high effort (rated a 3 to 4), think about how to make it less time-consuming or more efficient. Of course, not every high-effort task can be made “easier” (see: making art), but you may be able to make some things less cumbersome through tooling, changing part of the process that’s not making a big impact, or breaking it up into more manageable tasks that can be distributed.
Take notes on changes you want to make as you go along, and trim that list down to a dreamy, ideal outline of what really needs to be done.
Now you’re ready to do what we came here to do: make the plan to scale you up.
Part 2: Make your plan
First, take an informed pass at delegation
Let’s see what will stay on your personal to-do list going forward, what can be automated, and whether some tasks can or should be owned by another person.
Build your personal to-do list
You’ve made sure the tasks on the overall list are a great use of time. Now, divvy up that list to make sure the tasks you personally complete are a great use of your time. Your goal here is to figure out what you really need and want to do, so you have a crisp outline of your role and what you can delegate.
Try asking yourself two big questions as you run through the task list:
- What tasks do you, personally, truly need to do? As in, things would genuinely break or feel inauthentic if they were not in your hands.
- What tasks would you be really bummed to not do anymore?
For anything that’s teetering on the edge of “I should do this” and “I could let it go,” consider whether you could train someone to help you out. And look at whether the task could be broken into two or more parts so your creativity is leveraged but your time is spared. For example, could “social media” become “writing social posts,” which maybe you still want to do, and “scheduling pre-written posts” and “monitoring replies,” which could both be done by someone else?
And then sculpt your “somebody else” list
Once you have your own list together, it’s time to assign the remaining tasks. You might go to a close working partner, an expert in a particular domain, or maybe you’ll take a digital approach. If you need a hand as you assess, try some of the following questions:
- Do you see a pattern in the remaining tasks? If, for instance, you’ve got ten administrative tasks, you might be able to solve your problems by finding freelance help or a virtual assistant through a source like Fiverr.
- If someone else did this task, would you need to oversee it closely? This might be a task for someone who works closely with you, like a full-time team member or regular working partner.
- Could a tool (like software that categorizes expenses, automates SEO reports, or posts scheduled content to social) turn this task into a click of a button?
- Do you need an expert to just handle it?
When you’re done, sort your list by potential assignee, and you should have a good picture of who and what you’ll need to bring on to see this plan through.
Wrap up with a look at the forest and the trees
Hey, you’ve just done an incredible thing. Congratulations! You should now have a clear picture of:
- What is and isn’t driving impact around your business, and what tasks you’ll be changing or refocusing.
- What you absolutely want and need to do yourself.
- The tasks you could automate, so you can pick the right tools.
- What tasks you’ll aim to get some human help for and what kind of help that is.
As you move into your next steps — maybe hiring, investing in some helpful software or digital tools for automation, or shuffling your schedule — these resources can help you stay on track.
- 20 tips on getting organized so you can make the most of your time and effort.
- A guide to mastering time management to help you balance your to-do list.
- A list of 9 tried-and-true apps to support you with tooling (or come ask other creators for recommendations in our Creator Community Discord).
- Advice on hiring if you’re ready to bring on help.
- And most importantly, some reading on beating burnout and managing stress, because taking care of yourself can help you stay inspired, clear-headed, and as productive as you want to be.
How did you know it was time to scale? What resources did you use to make it happen? Talk about it in the Patreon Creator Community Discord.