What could you do in 16 hours a week? Well, my guest today is going to share how she built and sustained a business with just that – first out of necessity but then out of desire. We don’t set out on our entrepreneurial path because we can’t wait to hit that first wall of burnout. More likely than not, you started your business because you were already burnt out from a job and lifestyle that didn’t align with the dreams you had for yourself.
So why is it that so many entrepreneurs still end up in Burn Out City, even when they’re in the driver’s seat? It turns out, even though we feel like we’re in control, outside influence and the noisy world around us is steering us off our intended route, and we end up sacrificing our lives for our businesses. What if we told you that it doesn’t have to be that way?
Shay Cochrane is a major proponent of doing the opposite – of NOT neglecting your life to be profitable. You can be a whole person while still building a successful business. Her wildly popular stock images subscription business, Social Squares, is evidence of that. Shay works just 16 hours a week so she can get back to being a human and mom and wife. Shay wants to encourage other entrepreneurs to tune out those distracting outside voices and dial into what you really want. You can do things differently, and this conversation will help you see what’s possible.
What is Social Squares?
We’re dedicated Social Squares customers on Team Jenna Kutcher because of what it allows us to do – we can focus on building the business and the brand without having to shoot every single image ourselves. Even though I have a photography background, shooting stock imagery isn’t something I can or want to do for my business.
Shay explained the vision of the membership site saying, “You have your thing that you do well, but you need images and video to actually get your ideas and business in front of the world. So enter: me and the contributing photographers that are part of the stock photo agency that I run. We create beautiful stock images and videos specifically for female entrepreneurs so that they can find greater success actually getting their ideas out there, building the business of their dreams by outsourcing the imagery to us.”
“So in its simplest form, it’s a stock photo membership, but our big picture mission is just to help as many female small business owners as possible get their messaging and get their business ideas out into the world.”
Want to try it yourself? Get 10% off your quarterly and annual Social Squares subscription with code: JENNABONUS (plus, you’ll get a curated set of images by me!)
Shay Cochrane works 16 hours a week. It was a schedule that she developed years ago when she and her family moved to a new state, her husband lost his job, and her wedding photography business was slim being in a new market. She decided to launch a commercial product photography business just as she was becoming a new mom. Doing both at the same time during a financial challenging time led to complicated feelings.
“What I found was that I was resentful of trying to do them both at the same time and loving work and being entrepreneurial, having that entrepreneurial spirit but I was resenting being a mom,” Shay continued, “So when I had a child on my lap and I was trying to answer an email, I wasn’t resentful that I had work to do because I loved work. I was resentful that I had a baby that needed me. And as soon as that started happening, it really was a wake up call for me. That man, this isn’t who I wanna be. This is not in line with where my heart really is.”
Shay realized she needed to find childcare so she could be present with work during work hours and present with her baby when she wasn’t working instead of doing both at the same time. Since money was tight, 16 hours was all they could reasonably pay for at the time.
“16 hours was all I could scrap together. So what happened was that in those very early stages of building a business, I was forced to make decisions very strategically and intentionally so that I could actually build a profitable business with only putting 16 hours into it because I wanted to spend the rest of the time as a mom, I wanted to spend the rest of the time with the kids.”
What at first was a limitation became the reason for her growth, “So it was that like beautiful boundary and that amazing limitation that really ended up being a catapult for growth because I figured out how to use my time in the best way possible so that I could grow it as quickly and as profitably as possible within those time constraints.”
How She Structures Her Work Time
Shay has been in business for 13 years now, so she’s in a more advanced stage of entrepreneurship and as such, she structures her 16 hours of dedicated work time differently now than she did when she was in the earlier phase of business.
She explained, “The best use of my time as a CEO falls into four different categories for me. One is connecting. So I need to be connecting with my team, so there’s a lot of team leadership involved, and then connecting within the industry, like connecting to industry peers and friends, supporting other people in the creative industry.”
Next is learning. She shared, “I really need to be learning. If I don’t learn, I will die out. I. I’ll become irrelevant. So I have got to allocate time to learn, learn to grow as a leader…Learn to grow as a photographer. So I have to learn.”
“Third thing is creating and creating could be images like I still shoot and contribute a little bit to the catalog, even though now we have amazing contributing photographers. So creating, but that could also mean creating content. That could also mean creating a new organizational structure. I mean, there’s a lot of things that can fall into the bucket of creating, but I need to apply my brain to creating.”
Finally, it’s about communicating or teaching. Shay explained, “So how often can I share the vision of Social Squares with the world, or how often can I share my own kind of ethos and way of showing up with the world?”
More from Shay Cochrane
How does Shay check in with herself and her family each year to make sure she’s still on the path in life and business that she wants to be on? What one question can help you determine if you’re building your life that you truly desire? Shay shares so much more about how she has built a business that isn’t entirely dependent on her but that supports the life she desires as a dedicated mom and passionate entrepreneur. Press play wherever you get your podcasts for the full conversation with Social Squares founder Shay Cochrane.