My “Maintenance Mode” Business Goal

posted by Andrea | 01/5/2017
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When I first started my in-home organizing business at the age of 21 (just months out of college), I had visions of building a huge clientele and growing as quickly as I possibly could.

Now, 10 years, 3 children, and 1 website later, my business no longer includes in-home organizing or speaking for various events — and my goal is no longer huge growth.

Instead, my main goal is simply to maintain what I already have.

More specifically, to maintain what I already have while working fewer hours.

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I am so grateful for the countless hours I put into my business those first few years. There were many times I wanted to throw in the towel because I had almost nothing to show for days, weeks, months, and even years of hard work.

Thankfully, I enjoyed what I was doing enough to continue working hard without much income to show for it. I didn’t have children at the time, nor did I have many other outside commitments or obligations, so I could put in massive amounts of “blood, sweat, and tears” without adding too much stress to my life.

By the time I was pregnant with Nora (about  4 years after I started my business) I was finally making a good part-time income, and I knew I could stay home with with my soon-to-be new baby — if that was what I decided I wanted to do.

After Nora was born, I worked hard for a couple more years to achieve a good full-time income; but right before Simon was born, I decided I just didn’t want to devote as much time to my business anymore.

I still loved what I did… I just didn’t want to do quite as much of it.

So I cut back on work to make more room in my life for new babies, growing toddlers, and lots of house and yard projects! 

For the past 3 years (seriously, how is Simon almost THREE!) I’ve been slowly and consistently cutting back on the number of work-related things I say “yes” to.

I stopped accepting any organizing clients and passed my current clients to other area organizers.

I stopped accepting any new virtual assistant jobs, and I quit all but the 2 VA jobs I’ve had since the very beginning.

I stopped speaking for local events.

I stopped doing all social media, except Facebook.

I stopped doing weekly giveaway posts and now write 5 posts per week instead of 6.

I haven’t made any major changes to my blog since I changed the name in 2013.

I don’t do any email marketing and I’m not trying to grow my email subscriptions in any way.

I don’t actively seek out advertisers or sponsored posts, and I end up saying “not right now” to many of the companies who contact me.

I don’t go to conferences or do any traveling whatsoever for my business.

I don’t do anything that requires meetings or specific time-sensitive appointments or obligations.

I don’t commit to anything between 5:00 and 8:00pm so we can eat dinner together and put the kids to bed.

Obviously, I’ve been able to free up A LOT of time by eliminating all those tasks from my plate… but I’ll be the first to admit this probably isn’t the best business plan 🙂

However, I’m OK with my not-so-great business plan because it’s a great “simple living plan” for my current stage of life.

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With 3 young children at home and a handful of house and yard projects we still want to cross off our list, this is NOT the season of life for me to be actively pursuing huge business growth. (For the record, Dave has significantly cut back on his “extra” responsibilities at school too.)

Instead, by working in “maintenance mode” for a while, I get to do something I’m passionate about, work at my own pace, interact with amazing people from all over the world without ever leaving my house (an introvert’s dream!), and I can do it all without paying for daycare or constantly feeling stressed about the huge mountain of to-dos I have waiting for me.

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So often, we talk about “maintenance mode” in a negative way — as in “I’m so busy, I have no time for anything. I’m simply in ‘maintenance mode’ trying to hold the pieces together.”

That is NOT the type of maintenance mode I’m referring to, though. Instead, I am making a conscious effort to simplify, to cut back, to minimize my commitments so I can continue to use my gifts to do something I enjoy, while keeping a decent balance between my work life and my home life.

This doesn’t mean I just sit home and do nothing — I’m working hard to complete my blog work and VA work every week while still making time for household chores, errands, and family. However, I’m not going to push myself to the point of exhaustion just to keep up with other bloggers or business people who are growing or doing more.

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Yes I make a little less income than I did before, and yes, there’s a tiny part of me that will forever want “more growth”; but I continually remind myself that the fact I’m able to make any amount of money working from home, doing something I’m so passionate about, while taking care of the people I love most is something I honestly never dreamed I would be able to do.

Sure, it sounds exciting to have a huge blog following, but I know that would require a lot more effort on my part — potentially hiring on additional help (and all the management headaches that could bring with it).

I would love to get back to speaking for local women’s events, but that would require childcare, traveling, and lots of prep work in the days leading up to the event.

I would enjoy working with in-home organizing clients again, but I don’t want to deal with the hassle of last-minute cancellations, constantly-changing schedules, and putting in extra hours away from home with 3 young children.

I know I could pick up more VA work if I wanted to make the time, but more hours on my computer isn’t the best use of my time right now.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I resumed many of these activities once our children are all in school; but until then, I’m simply planning to enjoy this period of “maintenance mode” for my business.

If you are at a point in your life when “growth” is what you need (business, personal, spiritual, emotional etc.), then push yourself to grow and learn as much as you can.

However, if you feel the need to slow down a bit and put parts of your life into “maintenance mode”, I don’t think you’ll regret taking that step back. After all, it’s a better alternative than burning out and quitting altogether! 

Are any parts of your life in “maintenance mode” right now?

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44 comments

  1. Mara Yager

    01/09/2017

    Definitely awesome that you can see what your family needs right now (which is you) AND you are able to do that!! You have a huge following already from what I can tell, you get more comments than a few other blogs I follow. NOT that it is a competition! But, you obviously motivate so many of us that we log onto your site on a daily basis for your daily posts! That is a huge compliment to you and a testament to your fantastic, applicable content 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Mara 🙂
    My readers are awesome — so that helps too!

    [Reply]

  2. Lauren Bolton

    01/06/2017

    Hi Andrea,
    This is the second time I’ve written you in the 5 years or so that I’ve been following your blog, but I feel like I know you and your family so well! You have inspired me in so many ways to be creative with your time and money, yet keep things simple and organized. I love it! Many times you’ve posted a blog the same day or day after I was struggling with a certain issue, especially when both Nora and my daughter (born 4 months after Nora) were young and weren’t sleeping! You made me feel like things were going to be ok. Just FYI, I am a mom of two girls originally from Ohio but now live in England.

    I am at a point in my life when I can grow, because my younger daughter goes to preschool two mornings a week, allowing me to have a few hours those mornings to do housework and express myself through my blog “Finding the Pennies”, where I share my money-saving mindset. I know you have been working long hours for many, many years on your blog, and I long to have loyal followers and a influential blog like yours.

    Simply… thank you. Thank you for the time you dedicate to our (the readers) lives.

    Take care,
    Lauren

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Lauren! Enjoy your time of growth — I’ll get there soon enough 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. Lauri Everlove

    01/05/2017

    Just wanted to say I love your blog and it’s the only one I read on a daily basis. Love that it is not commercial at all. I am one of your readers who have kids that are already grown up but love your blog all the same. My youngest is 20! Would have loved your blog when I was in my 20’s with young babies but still love it now..Please don’t ever quit~~

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Lauri! I hope I don’t quit (or that blogs don’t become extinct) any time in the near future!

    [Reply]

  4. Heart and Haven

    01/05/2017

    I’m actually surprised, but also very pleased, to hear your run your blog in “maintenance mode” – cause hopefully that means many more years of posting without blog burnout! 😉
    You post consistently with such great content, I would’ve never known you have cut back. Perhaps you have streamlined blogging, gotten more efficient, etc (or perhaps there’s more “behind the scenes” stuff that you used to do…would love to know!) However, to the end reader, your blog is still the great stuff I’ve been reading for years and years. And I love reading about your family and the kids as they are growing up!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes — i’ve cut back quite a bit (but glad you didn’t notice)! I guess it was all very gradual — over 3+ years, so that probably helps too. I listed off everything I cut back on in the post if you’re still curious 🙂

    [Reply]

  5. Kim

    01/05/2017

    My word, this sounds so healthy. What a pleasure to hear you are enjoying investing in your precious children’s lives.
    No doubt, when they are all in school, you can ramp things up as much as you want.
    I like putting “maintaining” into a positive light!
    Blessings to you and your dear little family!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kim! And yes, I am excited about the possibility of pursuing more “growth” in many areas of my life once the kids are in school!

    [Reply]

  6. Gaynor Williams

    01/05/2017

    Oops, my last sentence should have read, “I’d be very happy…” etc!

    [Reply]

  7. Gaynor Williams

    01/05/2017

    I love your blog too, and have been following it for a few years now, mainly because it is so genuine, with high quality content. Many of the points you make, on a range of issues, resonate with me, even though I’m 58 with no children! To give one simple example, you once commented that you’re a no-nonsense sort of mother: “here are the rules, follow them, life will be good”. I’m a terrible procrastinator and often find myself applying that comment to motivate myself in relation to all sorts of things, such as eating healthily or sticking to routines. I also agree with everything that”s been said in previous comments about other blogs being too commercial. Giveaways and adverts often don’t apply to me in any case because I live in the UK. I’don’t be very happy if you just keep on doing what you’re doing!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — thanks for sharing this with me Gaynor! It’s so great to hear something I wrote has stuck with you so long!

    [Reply]

  8. Iliana

    01/05/2017

    Andrea, you are wise beyond your years and I like your blog just the way it is. Your posts are very insightful and inspiring, and your constant search of simplicity have motivated me to do the same in my own life. I read your posts every day and I hope you will be writing in your blog for years to come.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much lliana!

    [Reply]

  9. Courtney

    01/05/2017

    Such a refreshing post! My full-time job has so many overtime opportunities (or oppor-told-ities!), and it often feels like I’m the only one who doesn’t want more overtime. More money? Great. More time away from my family? Not worth it. My overtime duties always involve overnight travel, which is hard with a three and six year old, but other employees look at me like I’m crazy when I say I’m happy with my salary; I’d rather just have more family time. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only mom around who feels that way.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    ha! I like how you say “oppor-told-ities”! I”ve never thought about it that way before!
    I’m glad you have enough confidence to say “no” and not back down to work-related pressures. Good for you!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Reply:

    Haha. We call it “volun-telling.”

    [Reply]

  10. Jenny Z

    01/05/2017

    I have to chime in also. Yours is the only blog that I read without fail every morning. I get up at 5:30 and then wait until 8:00 when I can read the new post! I love it for the same reasons already listed. It is consistent and hasn’t changed and I like that. I have stopped following so many blogs because they have gotten to where they are solely about selling things or boosting their numbers or income by promoting crappy things. I LOVE your blog, love your tips, make so many of your recipes, have the same decorating style and just think your kids are adorable. I am probably not your typical reader as I’m older, I’m 43 and have 5 kids whose age range from 5-16. However, I look forward to your posts every morning.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Sorry to make you wait so long. I could totally schedule my posts earlier — there’s just something that seems more “normal” about the 8:00 timeframe.
    Also, since when did 43 become “old”?? 🙂

    Oh, and for the record, I don’t have a “typical reader” — unless you count “female” as my typical reader. I have lots of readers from college age all the way through great-grandmothers. I think the age-range for people who want to simplify is pretty large!

    [Reply]

    Jenny Zje Reply:

    Oh Andrea! I wasn’t complaining about the time! I just know at 8 that I can check for the new post! And your right 43 isn’t old! I just figured most who follow are young new moms! All I was really saying is that enjoy what you post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Don’t worry, I knew you weren’t complaining! I just had to give you a hard time, especially since you said 43 was old 🙂

    [Reply]

  11. Carrie Willard

    01/05/2017

    This is interesting. While I do want to grow my traffic and newsletter subscribers, I also decided to do “nothing new” this year with my blog. I wrote an ebook last year and started a new free e-course, so I simply want to promote those (and my existing ebooks). I was making the mistake of being in a hurry to create something new thinking that would lead to more income, but that’s not always true, because I was not getting the maximum benefit out of the work I had done on those things already!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Carrie — there IS definitely a time to pursue growth… after all, if I had never pursued growth when I first started my blog, I wouldn’t be at a point where I could enjoy “maintenance mode” right now. You’re right in the fact that you should try to get maximum benefit out of your work, but pursuing growth isn’t necessarily a bad thing — it’s just not the right thing for ME right now 🙂
    Good luck with all your endeavors!

    [Reply]

  12. ShellyL

    01/05/2017

    Just wanted to chime in and agree with what the others have said. yours is the only blog i read almost daily. Some of the other blogs I follow have grown and changed so much that I dropped them. Others I check on occasion. Like you, I have three kids and not much extra time, so I make time only for this one most days. Kudos for knowing when to cut back, although I’m sure I would buy a book if you ever decide to go that route. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I’ll definitely let you know if I ever decide to say “yes” to a book deal! Maybe when all the kids are in school 🙂

    [Reply]

  13. Paulette

    01/05/2017

    I agree with so many of today’s comments. So many blogs have become too big and not personal any more. Too many things far beyond the scope of what my life includes. Have followed your blog pretty much since the beginning and I keep coming back every day. Thanks for all you share, Andrea!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks (again) for your long-time readership Paulette!

    [Reply]

  14. Avia

    01/05/2017

    I follow your blog faithfully partially due to you not changing. Your blog still feels very authentic and “simple” – which is the point isn’t it? I’ve stopped following other blogs that have become too busy and “business-y” because they are not adding value to my life anymore. So thank you from me! As a side note, I’m not one to set New Years goals but I did decide in the middle of last year to pick a word for my mantra which I am carrying into this year. That word for me is “simplify” which came about in large part from reading your blog. So Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    YES! Simple is the point!
    Also, yay for the New Year’s goal to simplify! I’m a fan of “goals” — not so much resolutions, but goals are usually OK 🙂

    [Reply]

  15. Karen

    01/05/2017

    I have stopped following several blogs that have “outgrown” me. I tend to drop out when a blog changes from providing me with information to suggesting I make a purchase on a regular basis. As traffic increases, so do the offers and guest posts, and eventually the “flavour” changes. I understand why bloggers do this, but I’m just not a big fan of marketing. I’m not a fan of big ticket giveaways either, although the number of comments generated by them usually indicate I’m something of an oddball there. But if I didn’t NEED a vitamix or instant pot yesterday, I don’t need one today just because someone is giving one away. I much prefer smaller things like the planner, with a discount for readers. Sidebar ads don’t bother me, but I really don’t like pop up “purchase opportunities”.

    DH is self employed and decided years ago that bigger is not always worth what we call the “hassle factor”. We’re far happier than when we were chasing growth.

    Maybe my life is in maintenance mode. I agree with Bonnie’sMama. Sometimes big enough is exactly big enough.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is great, thanks Karen!
    I love how you say “Hassle factor” — which really IS something to consider if you want more growth. It’s going to be a lot of hassle and busywork. Maybe it’s worth it, but for me (right now) it’s not!

    [Reply]

  16. Beatriz

    01/05/2017

    I can’t believe that so much time has gone by! I think I started following your blog about the time that Nora was born because I remember thinking she had the prettiest eyes I had ever seen. Also that she looked sooooo much like you.

    Personally, I think that you’ve kept a good pace on your blog, good content but not overwhelming quantities. Especially with the additions to your family! I hope to continue reading your blog for many years to come 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know — it’s crazy how long I’ve been blogging over here!
    I hope to be publishing new content for many years to come as well! Thanks for your loyal readership!

    [Reply]

  17. Bonnie'sMama

    01/05/2017

    All of this post to say–you are enough. Not you + a bigger and bigger blog. Not you + a blogging team. Not you + more money. Not you + more fame. Not you + All the Opportunities.

    Just you.

    That’s a message I need to hear.

    Andrea, the results of keeping this blog smaller and more manageable and personable is what keeps me coming back to it, every morning. I’ve stopped reading the mega blogs, because much of the content is not even written by the original person. They’re so full of deals and affiliate links and content written around an affiliate opportunity instead of helpful information. I read this blog because 95% of the content is useful to me. It’s worth my time as a busy mom, to give me something interesting to think about or to help me manage my home better.

    You’re just a nice, normal mom with a normal (organized!) house and normal kids, not a stressed-out overachiever who will soon be posting about how she’s “cutting way back and reevaluating and delegating” all the responsibilities that came because of saying yes to all the opportunities.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Exactly. Thanks so much!!
    I’ll take “nice normal mom with an organized house” anyday!

    [Reply]

  18. Karen

    01/05/2017

    I loved this post. It can apply to so many areas of life, not just blogging. I appreciate your blog and look forward to reading everyday. The bloggers who focus so much time on growth eventually lose their perspective and passion. Plus I’ve stopped reading many of those blogs for that reason, they’re no longer personal. Thank you for knowing your limits and still providing us with great content.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Karen — and yes, this can definitely be applied to so many different areas of life as well. Not just work life!

    [Reply]

  19. Jenna

    01/05/2017

    Oh my goodness, this is exactly where I am right now! I was just having a conversation with a friend about our businesses (we’re in the same industry and same stage of life so we can always relate), and coming out of the busy season it was so hard to be away from and super busy with the kids. (Our business does require appointments out of the house and babysitters). I talked with my husband about it and we both agreed a maintenance mode amount of work was much better for me and my family. So we cut back on the days and hours that I’ll be working moving forward. It’s so hard, knowing the time money and energy I’ve put in to make my business grow, and at the same time would love “constant growth” especially from a financial standpoint. But then I look and think, gosh my oldest will be in full time school soon and I don’t want to give up all that time to spend with her! Anyway, just writing to say I’m in the exact AMA e place right now and super appreciate your timely post 🙂 thanks for the encouragement that it’s ok to be in maintenance mode and constant growth is not always what’s best at certain points in life.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    That’s so fun you have a friend in the same stage of life as you AND in the same line of work. Of all my friends, not one of them does anything remotely similar to what I do… and really, I almost have no friends who work from home. That would be so great.
    Also, I’m glad you and your hubby are on the same page (that’s definiteliy helpful too!)

    [Reply]

  20. Kristen @ Joyfully Thriving

    01/05/2017

    This was just the encouragement I needed to read today. I’ve been pondering the constant dream of bloggers for growth, and wondering if this is really my season to pursue that. Like you, I’m SO thankful I can be home with my kids and the fact that we earn money at all is a blessing. I’m amazed that you still post 5 times a week! I’m actually considering going down from 3 to 2 times a week. Thanks for the reminder that maintenance mode can be a good thing, Andrea! Here’s to maintaining with you! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, maintenance mode is a good thing for me right now. Maybe there will be time for growth in the future, but not right now!

    [Reply]

  21. Shelley

    01/05/2017

    I think you are wise beyond your years. As a mom whose 3 kiddos are just about out of the house, let me tell you that it goes fast. One day I was nursing, the next we were at the drivers license office and the next talking to college advisors:(. I have a good friend who went back to work to give their kids “more” even though they could afford to very well stay home, she now works usually 6 days a week while her kids sit at home or go to friends houses. They can’t make it to church anymore- she is too tired and needs to clean the house, she stops more nights than not to pick up take out and her house is always a wreck (she was a huge neat freak). I do not say it to put her down-my heart goes out to her. I am just saying that one day your kids cross this threshold and you get “your” life back (which is bittersweet :).

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I know I will get my life back eventually — and I do agree, I will probably miss some of these super-demanding, little-people-needing-me-all-day-long days! Thanks for the encouragement!

    [Reply]