Avoiding a Scarcity Mindset in Business

How do you avoid a mindset of scarcity in your business? Do you know what a scarcity mindset is? Hint: it doesn’t mean there is a lack of Girl Scout cookies.

Last month, I walked you through how to create a business marketing plan (if you missed it, click here). In that blog, I encouraged you to start your planning for the next year with the figure that you want to make. Now, you might be saying “but Lauren that’s a silly thing to say, I just want to make as much as I can”. This is called a scarcity mindset, and for all you Type 3 Enneagrams like me – this is the root of all your anxiety, and that feeling like nothing is ever “enough”.

I feel highly unqualified to speak on this topic, as this is something as an Enneagram Type 3 I struggle with on.the.reg. But, maybe that means I’m extra qualified to share my thoughts on it.

Type 3’s are known as the Achievers. We place our personal value on our accomplishments, and feel if we aren’t “wowing” people, we aren’t successful. So when we set a business marketing plan of say, 12 invitations a year, and book out – we are happy, but not satisfied. There’s the feeling of “well I met that goal, what’s next?”.

Without getting too personal, that’s the feeling I’ve had my entire life. When I graduated architecture school, I didn’t take time to celebrate my accomplishment. I dove headfirst into my new career and set off to take my architectural exams. When I passed my ARE (Architectural Registration Exams), I thought “okay cool but what can I do next”. When I got promoted to Associate, I thought “great, but when can I become a principal”. I didn’t stop to enjoy what I had, I just set out for more. See the pattern?

This certainly isn’t something only Enneagram Type 3’s fall victim to, and is a mindset that I hear from lots of small business owners, especially those that do this full time. When your business is the one responsible for putting food on the table and keeping a roof over your head, it is easy to want to take on a few extra clients justttt in case next year or next month isn’t as kind. That’s why it is called a mindset of “scarcity”. Your mind tricks you into thinking that there isn’t enough. You feel like you have to hoard all of the Girl Scout cookies to have enough to last through the year, not knowing if they’ll sell them again next year. (Two examples using Girl Scout cookies Lauren? Alright, apparently Whole30 is really getting to you).

While a certain dose of that is good planning and smart business, too much of that can leave you feeling overworked, under rested and without any time for “white space”.

In a world where you get one of those “looks” from family who don’t understand when you say you don’t work on Fridays (even though they don’t see you hustling all weekend long), it is easy to feel pressure to work 24/7. When I begin to fall into the scarcity mindset, here are some steps I take to right the ship.

Create Your Marketing/Budget Plan

You will always think it isn’t enough, if you don’t know what enough is. Create your marketing/budget plan for the year and really dig into the expenses in your business. Build in some cushion, so that you don’t have to be nervous even if expenses come in a little higher than you planned. You can read more about this here.

Schedule Time Off

Do you love Christmas? Great – plan to take half as much (or no) client work in the month of December so that you can fully sign off and enjoy the season. Plan in space for yourself to relax throughout the year, even if at the time it seems silly. Right now in January when you’re scheduling client work, you don’t know how burned out you’ll feel in August. Your August self will thank you. I know that all summer I will be itching to be at the beach every weekend, so I make sure to keep a close watch on the client work I take on for the summer months. There’s no better way to make what was your passion feel like a job like having it keep you from doing your favorite things. Hello, burnout.

Batch Your Workweek

At the micro level, this is a great place to start creating boundaries for your workweek. Schedule days for each of the tasks you need to complete in your business. Maybe there’s one for marketing (writing blog posts, scheduling social media), then the next three are for client work, and then the last is for housekeeping and those projects that you always want to get to but feel like you never have time to complete. If you have three days a week for client work, you can schedule out exactly what can be accomplished in those three days. If it doesn’t fit in those three days, it has to move to next week. If it can’t fit in to any week before the client’s deadline, you can’t take on the project. That’s a really easy way to maintain boundaries and more accurately understand your project capacity when responding to inquiries. You can do this with your personal life too. Maybe Friday is your day to clean the house, leaving you able to wake up in a clean house on Saturday and rest. For a more detailed explanation of how I do this in my own business, click here.

Create Traditions

This is a bit of an odd one, but I felt like it was important to include. With working full time as an architect on top of Lauren Perry Studio, I have very little free time and there is ALWAYS more that I want to do than time that I have to get it done. That means it is very easy for me to tell my husband that I’m just going to “work for a few hours” on a weekend when we were supposed to be headed to have fun. To me, it seems easier to cancel & disrespect plans to do something that I already felt so-so and half-hearted about. But my tradition-loving heart will not say no to being fully present for our Saturday morning trips to Taste & the beach. By making beach trips on Saturdays our tradition, I have wired myself to never plan for that day for work. This could be as simple as making a Friday night movie night your tradition, or as far as making plans to take a sabbatical/time off for a particular month. How you run your business and your life is up to you!

I hope that you take away from this the permission to give yourself boundaries, and to say no. You don’t have to work constantly to be successful. Remember, there is a season for hustle and a season for rest! It is important to identify and respect both!


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