Andrew and Pete run a company called Atomic which helps small businesses sell more and scale smarter.
We caught up with Andrew and Pete at #kickstart-dublin and asked them the difference between a freelancer and a small business owner, how to ensure you’re building your own business (not just your clients’), and some key moments in their own business journey.
Find Andrew and Pete at https://www.Atomic.site.
One of the biggest differences we see between a freelancer and a business owner or entrepreneur is this massive mindset shift between, let’s say, “I am a social media manager,” versus, “I run a social media management company.” And there’s a huge difference because in your head, everything is pivotal as a freelancer on you and your skills. And it’s all about what you can do and your time and you’re swapping time for money. Whereas for an entrepreneur or business owner, I think we’d really want to get into that mindset of, “This is bigger than just me, and I can bring people in to do some other work for me.” And I think that’s a really big difference.
It’s really important when you run a business to actually prioritize working on the business versus working just in it. And I know you’ve probably heard a lot of people say that; they’ll also have said such things like, “Treat yourself as a client,” like phrases like that, but how do you actually, practically do that?
I think a lot of it is mindset. You need to know if you want your business to grow at the rate you want it to grow, like, it’s not an optional…working on yourself, working on your business is not an optional “nice to have.” It’s necessary. It’s a must.
If you are to treat yourself as your client, what do you actually do for your clients? Do you have regular time when you’re working on that stuff? If so, you need to have regular time when you’re working on your stuff. Like, what is that now? What can you commit? Can you commit an hour a week? Can you commit 2 hours? A week? Can you commit a day a week?
When we first started doing this, we could only comment like a few hours per week to work on ourselves versus working on our clients—but over time, as the business grew because we were spending more time working on ourselves, we could outsource more work, we could process more, we could automate more. And so we could spend more time working on ourselves. And that couple of hours a week grew to a day a week, and now we spend like two or three days per week working on our own business. So it is really important.
I don’t want you to think that you need to jump to that now. Like if you can’t spend a full day per week working on your business rather than just in it, that’s A-OK for now. But what can you spend? Can you spend an hour, 2 hours, a morning per week? Start there and grow.
One of the biggest game-changing pivotal points in our business is when we started to think a lot bigger: besides, I think, outside of our local area, besides, I think, outside our comfort zone.
We started to push ourselves to go to bigger events, to go travel, to get a different perspective, to talk to people that were much further on than us, and surround ourselves with those people. We wanted to pitch to get on to bigger shows, bigger podcasts, bigger stages, wanted to talk to to people that are much, much further on.
We have this theory developed from that called “The Big Domino Theory.”
Basically, what a lot people try and do is build up: they’ll start small and think that they’ll just like step up step by step by step by step. But actually, that takes a long time. It takes a lot of energy and every single thing is a step up and it’s a lot of energy to keep going up and up and up. And instead, I almost want you to just think about what is that massive big domino right at the end of the line, which if you put in like 110% to get, everything else before and after would just be a thousand times easier. So for example, a big client, a big juicy client that would be amazing to have; a massive speaking, massive credibility stamp or whatever it is. It’s just something that will tip the scales in your favor and make everything else so much easier.
Another pivot was when we… all of our different products—so everything we were offering, everything that was taking up our time—and we actually decided what we were going to stop, not what new things we were going to do. And this was great for us: it automatically reduced our overwhelm, it automatically made us think bigger on the things that did have the most potential. And most importantly, it made our business way more profitable.
Often we can think about what’s next, what am I going to add to my plate, where instead maybe you need to think about what can I get rid of that’s currently on the plate? Like what clients do I actually not find any kind of joy working with that I can get rid of, what kind of services am I currently doing which I don’t really want to do anymore? And that can be a little bit scary, and, yeah, in the short term it may not make financial sense, but like with a bit more of long term planning, a bit more long term thinking, like if we want to achieve the bigger goals, some of the shorter term things that we’re doing need to go first.
That is how you actually find, going back to the previous question, like how do we actually find more time to work on the business, sometimes just doing the things that aren’t actually bringing you or your business any value, just stopping them altogether, just pulling the plug on them is one of the best ways to actually grow.
Andrew and Pete @whistle
We run ATOMIC.site