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Simplifying Profit First and Predictable Paydays with Val Duvick

Simplifying Profit First and Predictable Paydays with Val Duvick | The Business Minimalist™ Podcast with Jade Boyd
I'm Jade!

MBA | Business Strategist | Business Minimalist | I help busy creatives bring order to chaos with an intentional business strategy and simple systems.

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I met today’s guest about two years ago when I was speaking at a local women’s entrepreneurship event. She was on a panel discussion at the event and I immediately knew that we had so much in common when it came to how we think about business, strategy, systems, and more! I’m so excited to finally bring her to the podcast today to talk about the profit-first system.

Val Duvick is a wedding photographer turned business coach and certified Profit First Professional for female creatives with some hot takes and unconventional, but life-centered and life-giving business strategies. She speaks the creative language and is passionate about proving that even creative brains are capable of taking back control of their money and time! If you’ve heard of profit first but think “it’s too complicated” or if numbers in general seem overwhelming to you, this episode will be a breath of fresh air. Val shares how the profit-first system simplifies her monthly financial decisions and has even allowed her to take two paid maternity leaves in two years. Tune into this episode to start paying yourself a regular paycheck this month (yes, it’s possible)!

Simplifying Profit First and Predictable Paydays with Val Duvick | The Business Minimalist™ Podcast with Jade Boyd

Key Takeaways from this Episode

  • Val’s journey from wedding photographer to financial coach for small business owners.
  • What is Profit First and how it can simplify your small business finances.
  • What creatives should prioritize doing with their money before reinvesting in their business.
  • How the profit first system encourages efficiency and intentionality.
  • How Val was able to take two paid maternity leaves from her business in two years.
  • The key scheduling tip that helps Val maintain a 2-day work week.
  • Val’s favorite productivity hack.
  • Val’s favorite finance or money mindset book for business owners.
Simplifying Profit First and Predictable Paydays with Val Duvick | The Business Minimalist™ Podcast with Jade Boyd

Connect with Val

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode

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Click here to read the full episode transcript!

Val Duvick: I think we’re often so afraid that if we don’t do all the things and we don’t buy all the things or invest in all the things that we won’t be successful,

Jade Boyd: Welcome to the show, Val.

Val Duvick: Hey, thanks for having me.

Jade Boyd: I’m super excited for this conversation. I feel like this might be the first time that we’ve actually talked one on one before we’ve known each other for a while, but the first time that I met Val was at the Empower Her conference, or I didn’t meet you. I like came to know of you and you were on a panel discussion and the way that you answered all of the questions, I was like, I think her and I have a lot of the same beliefs and philosophies when it comes to running a business. And so I think that we see eye to eye on a lot of things, and I’m really excited to dive into profit first, because it is one of those things that creatives, especially, but many business owners in general just think is really complicated and overwhelming, but you’re here to simplify it for us, which will be really good.

So starting off, can you tell us just a little bit more about who you are and what you do?

Val Duvick: Yeah. So I actually started as a wedding photographer. I started my business in college and really just over the course of about seven years, learned everything the hard way, like pretty much everything. So I did everything wrong with finances and time management, all the things. And so over that time, I just, you know, kind of out of necessity, had to learn how to take control of my money and do the things that I couldn’t afford to outsource and so I built just kind of systems and processes around what I was learning and profit first was one of those main things. And so as I pivoted into coaching, because that really was more of where my skills and my passion lied, I started to talk a little bit more about profit first and was very nervous about that because it, like I said, it did not come to me naturally and I never would have thought that would be my main focus in coaching, but really found that there was just this hole in the creative industry where people don’t feel like finances are approachable and they don’t feel like they can ask their accountants and their bookkeepers questions.

And so I was seeing a need for someone to kind of bridge that gap, and it was also just naturally happening with my clients. You know, we were going there. And so I almost, I guess a year and a half ago, I was like, all right, I’m going all in, we’re doing finances and see where it goes.

Jade Boyd: And how long ago has that been now?

Val Duvick: So the finance part or

Jade Boyd: Pivoting into coaching.

Val Duvick: Okay, so coaching has been six years, but then niching down to finances has been about a year and a half.

Jade Boyd: Okay. I always think it’s interesting to look at the timeline for that because I think a lot of business owners do struggle, like you said, of like, what is my niche going to be? And I never thought that it would be this, but then it kind of just naturally happens over time. And so I did want to point out from like a time perspective that sometimes it does take a little bit of time to find that clarity. And you’re so obviously meant to be in the space that you’re in. And you’re so good at teaching finances, specifically like sharing your story of how you came to know numbers yourself, which we’ll get into in a little bit, but I wanted to point that out to start, but talking about profit first, I feel like a lot of business owners maybe have heard of it or are generally aware of what it is, but in case somebody is listening, they’re like, what do you mean profit first?

What is this? Do you want to give a little bit of a background and what that is?

Val Duvick: Yeah, totally. So it is essentially a way of managing your cash, like a cashflow management system, and it is based on percentages. So you set about four main percentages for most people. And you’re just separating your money out into these different categories or buckets. Some people like to think of it in buckets or envelopes.

So it allows you to make sure that you are prioritizing all of the important things in your business. So paying yourself, which a lot of creatives don’t do and profiting. So those two things, especially, we tend to think that’s something that hopefully will happen someday, but actually this turns that on its head and says, no, we’re going to decide that that’s going to happen today. It’s not something we hope for or wait until the end of the year for our tax account to tell us. No, we decide to make ourselves profitable and to pay ourselves first.

Jade Boyd: So, a common objection, I would say, to profit first is that, oh my gosh, it’s so complicated, there’s so many bank accounts, this is so confusing, but you actually say that profit first can simplify your finances. So tell me more about how that works and how it can actually simplify things rather than make things more complicated.

Val Duvick: Yeah. So I think a lot of where that question often comes from is probably just not fully understanding the process, you know, which is like most things typically when we aren’t, we don’t have a lot of exposure to something. We tend to assume we just make a lot of assumptions and especially with bank accounts, there’s something about the bank accounts that people feel like it’s so complicated or overkill, but it’s actually quite simple to open a bank account in most cases. And we think it’s going to be this like 10 hour project, but you go into your bank if it’s local and it takes maybe, maybe an hour, definitely not an hour to set up one new bank account.

But I do think that there’s validity there of like, it’s just not the norm. And it’s not what we typically see and even bankers, like you will encounter some banks who are like, why are you doing this? You shouldn’t be doing this because they just don’t understand. They don’t know the purpose behind it.

But I think what really simplifies it is that you’re not having to do extra math when you look at your bank account. So the whole idea behind the bank accounts is actually not to change our behavior, but to like cater to our natural behavior. And what do we do when we’re trying to make a decision with money?

We open our bank account. We see how much is in there, but the problem, especially with creatives. And I would say for me, especially I almost never calculated correctly in my head. So if I’m looking at one bank account, I’m like, that’s a lot of money.

Jade Boyd: Yup.

Val Duvick: I for sure should be able to buy that lens or go to that retreat. And the problem is, we’re saying we’re like self identifying finances are hard for us, we’re not typically super great at math, but then we’re making it harder for ourselves by having it all together in this lump sum and not knowing what that money is for. So I think it simplifies decision making and it also simplifies just knowing what you should be doing with your money.

So you have a process, there’s like clear steps of you make this money, you separate it into these accounts and you’re good. Obviously, you know, you know, there’s some other like details in there, but it’s more of the front end that is getting it set up, that yeah it takes a little bit of work, but I think that work is so worth it for the clarity that comes on side.

Jade Boyd: So the idea is that you set up these different bank accounts and then every month you’re calculating those percentages and saying like, okay, this amount goes to my profit account, this amount goes to the account that I pay myself out of, tax savings, and then what was the fourth one?

Val Duvick: Business like operating expenses.

Jade Boyd: Oh, expenses, okay. And then you can check your bank account at any time and know if I want to go to that retreat, there’s this amount of money in my expenses account, and therefore I can afford it, or I cannot afford it. But overall, you’re prioritizing paying yourself, and I love what you said about deciding, like ultimately you do have to decide, it’s not going to magically happen, you have to decide this is the way I’m going to run my business. And this is what I’m going prioritize. And, that’s one of like the key characteristics that I would say of a business minimalist, because I do think it’s so easy as a business owner. We make so many decisions and it’s easy to fall into like the default behaviors that we have or the default ways of doing things without being intentional.

And you also mentioned overspending and like reinvesting in your business. Like it’s really easy to say like, oh yeah, I have enough money for this and this lens and I that’s a really common thing, especially for like first and second year business owners. So why should creatives, especially at the beginning of their business, prioritize paying themselves over reinvesting in their business?

Because I think it can seem like the better way to spend money if you are quote unquote reinvesting it, but it can also be a trap. So tell me more about that.

Val Duvick: Yeah. Totally. So I think one of the easiest ways to think about it is. We’re wanting to set our business up for success, right? We’re wanting to build healthy habits and put structure in place that is going to serve us well in the long run. We want our business to keep going, right? You know, nobody builds a business expecting it to fail.

And so I think we’re often so afraid that if we don’t do all the things and we don’t buy all the things or invest in all the things that we won’t be successful, but we’re kind of missing this piece of, is the way you’re running your business sustainable? Is it something you can keep doing year over year?

And, a lot of people, it’s a side hustle at the start. And so for a lot of them, it’s how do I quit my job? How do I start paying myself? And the reason that’s so hard is because they haven’t been doing it at all. They’ve just, all the money goes back into the business. And so we’ve built this business that needs more cash to survive than we can actually afford, if we want to go full time in our business and get paid. So, and it’s not about not reinvesting at all. I think that those first years reinvesting in the business is important, but with guardrails, and that’s really what the percentages provide. They give us guardrails and they help us to get more intentional about our spending because sometimes, this is kind of a hard truth, but I think we’re trying to buy ourselves out of our problems sometimes. And, you know, there’s so much education out there that most of it, you know, is actually good education and good things to learn, but it’s almost like we’re trying to take the shortcut, but, you know, there aren’t really that many shortcuts in business that actually work. And there are some people who have these, you know, crazy stories of, like an overnight success or whatever that’s, you know, we all know it’s not actually overnight, but we need to stop looking at those stories as the norm or the goal and just look at what is in front of us and how can I be creative in problem solving and, and even just getting innovative.

This is something I’ve talked about a little bit before with people, how I think we forget that a big part of being an entrepreneur is innovating. And if we can just buy ourselves out of everything, we’re not innovating at all, or just, you know, doing this thing that promises something that may or may not.

Jade Boyd: Yeah.

Val Duvick: I think, I think it’s really, it just aligns with everything that you’re about with being intentional about what you’re doing with your time, what you’re doing with your money. And when we have that, the framework and the structure of profit first, it helps us to do that without needing to be an expert in all those things.

Jade Boyd: I love what you said about almost like bootstrapping makes you more efficient with your money. And I can see so many parallels between time and money. And I have seen that with so many of my clients and even in my own experience, especially in my first couple of years of business, especially as a photographer in my first couple of years, because there’s no limit to the amount of equipment that you could like "need" to make yourself better. Right? But if you have like two days a week to work, like you’ll find a way to fit the important things in and you’ll get really creative and innovative on how to spend that time.

And same thing with money too, if you put limits on how much you can spend on X, Y, and Z, you’re going to make better decisions about what you actually really need to invest in, because there’s lots of things that are good. Like you said, this is a good investment, but is it really the best investment that I could possibly make and forcing yourself with a little bit of like boundaries and limitations does help with that decision making process.

Val Duvick: Hmm. And I think another side to that is having something that you really want to spend money on and then connecting that to the work it’s going to take to afford it. I think it helps us to see more clearly really what we’re spending, because it’s not just, you know, it’s not just the dollar amount. And even on the positive side of, okay, I want to do this retreat. So I’m going to work really hard to book X, Y, and Z to make that happen. And there’s just a, I think there’s so much more reward in that.

Jade Boyd: Yeah. That delayed gratification and even stepping into that role as a business owner, where you do feel like you understand the way that your finances work. I’ve seen that being so transformational. A lot of my clients will say, I finally feel like a quote unquote real business owner, because when you really understand and start making decisions differently, you do step into like a different, like identity in a different view of yourself as a business owner too. So I see so many benefits there. And for you and your clients, that’s something that they struggle with. They identify with I’m the creative person. And there’s so many messages telling us just stay in your zone of genius and outsource everything else and only do what you’re best at, but there has to be this balance between being the creative person, but also having that general understanding of your finances. So how do you help your clients kind of balance those two roles in their business?

Val Duvick: Yeah. Well, I think the first most important thing is I’m trying to shift the mindset that being right brained means I’m not capable of X, Y, Z. Knowing my numbers, managing my time, you know, all these things. And I think that we, we’ve kind of put ourselves in this, just in this very limited box and, and it kind of becomes, I mean, it really does become an excuse and something we’re leaning on to not do the hard work. And I say that as like, that was me. I just totally, I was intimidated by it and I didn’t want to look stupid. And I just kind of adopted this like helpless persona around money and numbers. And even to the extent of, I would say like in my normal day to day life, I would like mini golfing, I’d be like, Mark, my husband, you just keep track for me. I’m not, I’m not going do the math. I don’t want to do it.

Jade Boyd: I can’t, it’s a number.

Val Duvick: Yeah. And so we have a lot of like limiting beliefs on ourselves as creatives, and I think that the biggest thing I want anyone to take away from any sort of interaction with me is that you’re capable.

You are capable. It may not be your primary gifting. It may not be super fun at first. Or maybe ever, but you are capable, your brain actually is capable of understanding it and getting it under control. And the, the freedom that comes on the other side of that is so worth that work. And it is so empowering. And I think that’s honestly one of my favorite parts is just watching people, like you were saying, like, start to like, you almost like stand a little straighter, like, wow, I, I can do this. I can actually be a real business owner and you don’t have to love numbers. You don’t have to love bookkeeping. That’s one thing bookkeeping taxes, like, hey, as soon as you can outsource that great, but those don’t fix this problem. Like those on their own, don’t actually give you a plan for your cash and a way for you to, to really manage your money in general.

So I think that mindset shift is the, the most important first thing just to believe that you’re capable.

Jade Boyd: Yeah, I love that you differentiated understanding your numbers from knowing how to do bookkeeping or trying to be your own CPA because they are completely different. And I feel like I came into business ownership with an advantage because I had gotten my business degree in my MBA. And so most of what we were trained to do is like to read financial reports and make decisions, right?

So I had a very clear understanding of numbers, but bookkeeping still very hard, very different skill set. So outsourcing that is still good for me and any business owner, if you understand what your numbers are, but as long as you can read your reports and understand the line by line, what’s happening in your business and use that information to make good decisions moving forward, like that’s what we’re talking about. We’re not talking about understanding tax regulations or anything like that. Still ask somebody.

Val Duvick: Yeah. And I’ll even say just to help like maybe settle any fears even after that is you also don’t have to know how to read financial reports to do profit first. Like you can totally have this process in place and not feel confident reading a profit and loss. I’ll just be totally transparent, I still don’t really, I also haven’t really tried because I just, it’s just not necessary with the way that like I manage everything with profit first. So if that’s a fear, like, oh my gosh, I have to know how to read, like you can grow into that, you know?

Jade Boyd: For sure. As long as you know, like percentages, this is how much money I made. Percent, percent, percent, you can do like a multiplication problem, then you’re good.

Val Duvick: Yes,

Jade Boyd: So you mentioned limiting beliefs around money and what we’re capable of. And I just want you to speak a little bit more into your own money mindset and the journey that you’ve went on personally throughout your business and changing like your own relationship with money.

How has that changed over time from the time you’ve started your business to where you are now?

Val Duvick: Yeah. Well, I think what I already mentioned for one is just the intimidation and helplessness around money. I would avoid it. I would lean on that, like just my personality as being a reason that I couldn’t or wouldn’t do that or understand that. And so I think that was definitely a big shift of like, oh, I actually can, do this, I can figure it out. But then another one is maybe a little less common. I, I think I actually grew up with more of an abundance mindset. My dad is a business owner and worked really hard and he often, he actually would often be, I would remember hearing him like worried about their sales and then the end of the year we’d be like, yeah, you were worried and nothing, like you were totally fine.

Right? Like it was a joke in our family. and in general, he was very successful by the time I was born, there wasn’t a lot of the like scraping by that my older brothers experienced, but two things from that, I definitely correlated hard work and, like just having what you need.

So I think I took that too far actually, though, and would sometimes just spend being like, well, I’ll figure it out and like, I’ll be able to, you know, make the money that I need. Or, or that was even a part of not having a full plan for my numbers or sticking to a budget was like, just, yeah. It’s I’m going to figure it out.

It’s going to be so I’ve had to, yes, yes. Well, it actually hasn’t, but you know, so we still tell ourselves that I’m fine.

Jade Boyd: Yep.

Val Duvick: So I really had to temper that, like we typically think of an abundance mindset as being the correct mindset, you know, like that’s what we hear a lot. Coaches are always like, you need to have an abundance mindset, blah, blah, blah. But I think there has to be a middle ground. And I think we need to ground our abundance mindset in the hard data and the actual numbers and connect it, like I was saying before, connect what it’s going to take, what I need to do to have this financial outcome.

And so I tell people a lot, we need to know when enough is enough. I need to know what that number is like the quantity of clients or the quantity of sales in order to be able to pay myself this and cover these expenses. And so I needed to have the abundance mindset, but with data to back it up and to bring those together.

Jade Boyd: I love that you made that connection and your story about like your parents and growing up. I can relate to a lot of that, and I think getting married, you get a very, it’s eyeopening for a lot of your beliefs and like things that you just think are true and you see how different your spouse is. And for my husband, his family grew up, his dad was a pastor, his mom was a stay at home mom for most of his upbringing. And so they didn’t have a lot of money, but they did a lot of hard work. And were very responsible with their finances. And so Caleb has this amazing abundance mindset, but also a lot of discipline when it comes to money and me, I have more of like a scarcity mindset.

And I love that you connected, like the abundance mindset doesn’t just come when you think, oh, everything is great and there will always be enough because that can actually lead to real scarcity and not abundance if you’re not doing the hard work that actually provides that security for yourself. And so I love that distinction and it makes a lot of sense.

Val Duvick: Oh yeah. And it is funny how we often tend to marry people who are different. My husband grew up with very little money and so it’s been like a process of him learning to have more abundance mindset and tempering mind. So yeah, we definitely grow from these things.

Jade Boyd: Yeah, I also think it’s really interesting personally with my business versus personal finances. I have completely different mentalities as a business owner. Business finances do not stress me out. I feel like I understand it I know what I’m doing and feels good but then when we talk about like life insurance and health insurance and like any of the personal finance stuff, it just stresses me out so much and so I need to do some of my own digging into my money mindset, but yeah, I feel like as a business owner, you’re just constantly pushed to personally develop yourself. You’re confronted with all of your stuff.

Val Duvick: Oh oh yeah. I was recently telling a friend that, yeah I think the thing that has like grown me the most in my life, in all of life is having a business.

Jade Boyd: Yup, for sure. Cause it’ll show you every like messy part of your mindset, no matter what area that is. But I feel like money is definitely a big one. So, I also really want to dig into, along with planning financially, it allows you to do some really cool things in your business. And as a business owner, you were able to take two maternity leaves in two years.

And as someone who’s obviously personally planning for maternity leave this year, would love to hear your advice and even if you have like steps for the process or check boxes that you went through when planning for maternity leave. I think a lot of service providers think, I’m just not going to make any money when I go on maternity leave. My business is just going to stop. And if I want to take eight weeks off, that means that my business stops. And that doesn’t have to be the case, especially when it comes paying yourself. So I would love for you to share your experience there.

Val Duvick: Yeah. So really, I think one of the first great, clear check boxes, whether you are planning on having a baby soon or not, or even just want to take time off, is to learn, like to know what your essentially what your minimum is that you want to have in your salary account.

So if you adopt the profit first method, you will have a salary bank account. And just to clarify, you actually don’t pay yourself the full percentage of whatever you make that month, you put that percentage into a separate account, but you pay yourself a set amount. So your paycheck every month remains the same, whether your income fluctuates and that’s how you’re able to pay yourself year round if you have seasonal work.

So that’s kind of a starting point, but then, so I recommend that people pay themselves less than they could initially to build that bank account up. And I have a rule in my business that I always have as close as possible to three months of my salary saved at all times. So that stays in that bank account.

So that’s why I was able to do two in two years because I was not planning on the second year. She was a surprise baby. I mean, yes, I had, you know, the nine months to figure it out, but because of that process, when I came back from the first maternity leave, I was using that up, you know, using up the, the reserves that I created, but then I continued, instead of giving myself more of a raise, I continued paying myself at the same level so that I could build it up again.

And I did in that time have to get a little bit creative with like what work I took on. And I did a little bit of extra work because it was so fast to build that up again. But, I knew I needed to do that because I knew how much money I needed to make in order to pay myself that amount.

So I look at the full year. I have this spreadsheet that I call the annual estimator. And it breaks down your income into the four categories and shows you this is how much you’ll make in each of these categories if you book these things. So you like list out your offerings and you put in quantities and you like play with it to get it to where you want it to be.

So I look at that spreadsheet and I say, okay, I need to make this much in salary for the full year. And I think I can handle capacity wise, this many clients per month, or, you know, whatever your processes, your offerings are, and I take a month off every year by using this process.

I continue to know I need to book this much in order to pay myself for this many months and to cover these expenses. But in my brain, those quantities are not including that month or that three month stretch. And so it’s seeing it all laid out, I think looking at a full year at a time can be initially a little bit overwhelming, but the clarity that brings of like, okay, I have to book this many clients per month or per quarter per year, you know, whatever your seasons are. And when you know that you know exactly what you’re shooting for, that directs your marketing. This is one thing that I think people don’t realize knowing your numbers directly impacts your marketing because you know what you need to be marketing and when. So yeah, it really comes back to just that plan of having the reserves in that account and looking at the full year and what it will take in order for you to be able to take that time off. And I did completely take the time off. I did not like do blogging or emailing. I set up autoresponders and I think actually my first maternity leave, I did have guest bloggers. The second one I was like, nah, just can’t like, I mean, I had a baby and I was going to have another baby. Like I literally had two babies at once. So it’s just. You do what you can.

Jade Boyd: So how many months apart are your kids?

Val Duvick: 14.

Jade Boyd: 14. Very close. Oh, that’s fun though.

Val Duvick: I mean, yeah, it’s, it’s wild. Yes, it’s, it’s actually really sweet now because they’re so close in age that they play really well together. And so we’re in this stage of life where we’re like, okay,

Jade Boyd: Yep.

Val Duvick: All of that hard work was worth it. And now they just go downstairs and play for a while and don’t even ask us for anything. It’s like, wow.

Jade Boyd: This is magical and we didn’t plan this, but it worked out.

Val Duvick: Yes.

Jade Boyd: I love how you talked about the system and like going back to this isn’t making things more complicated. It’s actually simplifying things. I love what you said about finding clarity in your numbers because I have all of my clients go through a similar exercise.

Like I said, we see eye to eye on a lot of things and I do think that it’s, it’s so hard to make good decisions as a business owner without seeing those numbers out front. And oftentimes, I’m sure you see this with your clients too. They’ll go through the exercise and realize like, wow, I am dramatically underpaying myself or wow, I don’t actually have the capacity to reach my financial goals, the way I’m pricing my services right now, or the way that my systems are working right now.

And without looking at your numbers, you can go years just like hoping that more clients, that’s going to solve my problem. I just need more marketing and more clients, and then it’s all going to work out someday, but that’s not the case. And so finding that clarity in your numbers is such a crucial step for building, like you said, quote unquote, successful is different for everybody, but sustainable means paying yourself. And that doesn’t happen from the revenue numbers, which are easy to estimate. It comes from profit and how much you’re paying yourself.

Val Duvick: Yeah. And it, even when you said that, I just was thinking about how we often think very black and white about investments of like, okay, if I want to buy this thing, I just need to book this thing that’s the same amount, but actually that’s not true. You have to book quite a bit more than that amount because there’s only a certain amount from that

Jade Boyd: Yep.

Val Duvick: income that goes toward expenses and whether or not you’re doing profit first, like you still have to pay taxes and you’re still going to have other expenses like overhead expenses that, you know, are going to take some of that money. And so things aren’t a one to one. And so this is a really good mindset shift for that when you’re making decisions.

Jade Boyd: Yeah. 100%. I also would love you to speak into running your business in two days a week. From a systems perspective, we haven’t even gotten to this part, but you’re also very passionate about systems and boundaries and automations and workflows and all of those things as well. And you do run your business now in two days a week.

So I would love to see like a little peek behind the curtains into what your time looks like as a photographer and a coach now. So two different types of services that you’re providing. And being like the business owner and having those hats on. What does your schedule look like and how are you able to do that?

Val Duvick: Yeah, so I, this has definitely evolved a lot and I think I’m, I’m even still tweaking here and there. And I think that’s a part of, just a part of managing your time is learning as you go, but I’ve definitely found one really big, helpful change that I made was getting intentional about when I took calls.

So I only take calls with clients in the afternoons. And a part of that initially, when I had very small babies and very little energy was okay, am I going to push through the afternoon sleepies to do my own work or to be on a call only to be on a call? Like I will, I show up like if I’m on a call, I’m going to wake up, I’m going to be there, but I am not going to write a blog post at 3 PM on a day that I’m very tired.

Jade Boyd: Yes.

Val Duvick: You know, and everyone’s different with that, but it’s a part of knowing yourself, you know? So that was one big thing that I changed. So now, I pretty much do all of my work in the morning. And so eight to nine is when I’m kind of finishing, getting ready for the day. I spend some time reading my Bible and journaling to just kind of like get, get my head in the right place.

And then starting at nine, that’s when I really start working. And this is kind of a mix of content creation, marketing, admin work. And it’s, I actually spend very little time in my finances. Like it’s, it’s really like once a month that that time is including finance work. And so really more of my time these days is the content creation and marketing.

And I do prioritize a lunch break because I think that that’s really important, like we need to have a brain break. My goal is an hour, which might feel crazy when you only have two days, but I’ve just found that I do so much better if I have that full hour and I’m really giving my brain a break. So then another just kind of funny little thing that I’ve done is so like a call like this, like a podcast interview, I try to only do those either right at nine. So right when I start, or my last block of the morning, so like 11. So if it’s just one call, then I try to do it on the ends so that I have a longer chunk of time to work because when you’re breaking it, yes, when you’re breaking it up, it’s hard to like, stay in like focus and flow.

And so I don’t take random calls at like. 10 AM. So today was funny. This call is doesn’t really matter, but it’s around 10:30. And the reason I did that was because I had a call before this, that was also a podcast interview. And so I was booking them back to back. So I’m really, really intentional about those decisions to maximize my work time because it is, it’s so small.

Like if you think about my calls are taking up almost my full afternoon, most of the time. That means I only have like three hours, six hours in a week to run my business.

Jade Boyd: Which again, just paints the picture of you show up really, really well in your marketing. Anybody who follows you or if you go follow Val after this, you have really great marketing and it’s high quality. It makes sense. It looks beautiful. And six hours a week. I think that’s just a testament of giving yourself that limitation, and if you only have six hours, you’ll find a way to make it happen.

Val Duvick: Yeah. And that definitely means saying no to a lot of things and taking a lot of things off my plate. And I also, I don’t even have that, I’m not doing that much outsourcing. I have a podcast producer. And that’s it right now. So I have in the past done like some social media outsourcing and things like that, but I really, I’ve had to get so intentional about what I spend my money on and what I spend my time on. So I’m constantly thinking about those two things. Like, is this the return on this investment really going to give me more time? And then the other piece of that too. So even the podcast producer, I made that decision because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to like push myself to stick to the deadlines without someone waiting on me. And so it was not only an investment financially to like just get things off my plate, but it was accountability because I know that that’s something I struggle with.

Whereas before, like about a year ago, I was paying someone to be creating content for me, but I had to like post it and that meant, you know, I had to edit it and we’ve talked about being perfectionist and so that wasn’t working for me because it was falling on me at the end and then I wasn’t doing it. So like when you have such limited hours, you have to like, be really aware of yourself and these, just the way that you’re functioning and try to build processes around that. So, yeah, it’s a lot.

Jade Boyd: I was just speaking with a past client about this a few days ago because she had a season where a lot of things in her life got turned upside down and she had very limited time to do her launch and was just like cutting corners left and right and still had a really great launch. And so we were just talking about sometimes it’s surprising.

What you can get away with as a business owner when you’re not being a perfectionist because you don’t have time to be a perfectionist and how little actually matters and how much we’re just adding to our to do list because we want to do it and not necessarily because we have to do it and that limitation can really help you cut the clutter really quickly when you have, like I do right now, I have unlimited amount of time.

I work about four days a week, but it feels very spacious to me. And I’m allowed to fit some of those things on my to do list that I know are not going to happen later on,

Val Duvick: Mm hmm.

Jade Boyd: Yeah, cutting your time. It gives me hope when I hear business owners like you operating with that schedule, because I can see many ways for myself. My goal is also to cut down to two days a week after baby girl comes this summer and, yeah, just getting myself mentally prepared to stop being a perfectionist, even more so.

Val Duvick: Yeah. And I think that something that really helps with that is having your boundaries clearly communicated. So, I mean, even like you’ve experienced my autoresponder email and, and I even say, I know these things are annoying. I’m sorry for that, but you need to know, like, you need to know you’re not going to hear from me right away, and there are definitely, especially with the response time, that’s something that like, I am wanting to try to find a way to get quicker at, but because I’m communicating it, I don’t sit and feel guilty about it, you know? And it’s okay if people don’t want to work with me because of that, like, I have to let that roll off and, you know, trust that I’m going to get the, the work that I need, but it’s, it definitely, you’re more confident in those boundaries when they’re public.

Jade Boyd: Yep. And it can be very uncomfortable to set those boundaries for sure, especially if you’re a people pleaser, but ultimately, like you said, if people are not willing to respect your boundaries, they’re probably not the best clients to be working with anyway, because that’s a red flag for other things that might come down the line too.

Val Duvick: Mhm.

Jade Boyd: So, this has been such a good conversation. Are you, up for a bonus round of a few bonus questions? Okay. First question is what is your favorite productivity hack as a business owner?

Val Duvick: My favorite is having a weekly priority list. So not looking at your full to do list and not only looking at your today to do list, but knowing and looking at a full week at a time. That was really pivotal for me to not, cause I can zone in on today and forget what’s happening tomorrow and not be prepared for it. And planning for the whole week at a time has been really helpful.

Jade Boyd: Okay. Follow up. This is an extra bonus question. I wasn’t planning to ask, but what is your planning stack? Do you have a weekly planner where you map things out so you can see them or do you use like ClickUp or calendar a mix?

Val Duvick: So I have my master lists digital. So those are right now I just am using Apple Reminders, but I’m in the process of transitioning to ClickUp.

Jade Boyd: Yay. so, excited for you.

Val Duvick: Yes, so those, like my full everything ever lives in this one app. So that’s a big thing, one app. And then what I’ve actually just started trying because I was getting distracted by the digital, like all of the things digitally, I’ve started to do like just today I did get a planner. And so I just write out what I already had planned digitally in my today planner so that I’m not navigating, like, I’m so distractible that if I have to navigate to a different, app on my computer, I will inevitably go to something like social media or whatever. So I’m just looking at a physical planner right now to see if that will help with that.

And I guess in between those two steps is time blocking on Google Calendar. So I take the weekly priority list, put it into Google Calendar time blocks. And then I have my today stuff on the planner.

Jade Boyd: Okay. In case you didn’t know, you can do that in ClickUp. When you have your tasks for the day, you can drag them into the calendar within ClickUp so you can time block in the app. but I also do something similar with, I love paper planners. I’m just a paper gal, so I don’t know how I would run my business without ClickUp because there’s just so much to keep track of.

And especially with the podcast workflow, there’s like 35 tasks that are done for every podcast and there’s no way I wouldn’t be able to do that every week, just from memory. But it is really helpful to look at my to do list and then prioritize from a time blocking standpoint on paper so that I have the like five minute check of like, okay, what’s most important. Let’s just not continue to look at this list and pick out the easy things, which I would totally do.

Val Duvick: Oh yeah.

Jade Boyd: Okay. Next question is what is your favorite finance or money mindset book to recommend to business owners?

Val Duvick: Well, it’s probably pretty obvious. Profit first.

Jade Boyd: Yep. I was wondering if would say that.

Val Duvick: Yeah. Yeah. It’s honestly, I haven’t even read a whole lot of others because that has been so effective and, you know, six hours a week. I gotta prioritize.

Jade Boyd: Yep. I love it.

Val Duvick: Yes. Yes.

Jade Boyd: And then last thing is where can listeners find you after the show?

Val Duvick: So I hang out mostly on Instagram. So if you actually want to like be friends, I do respond to my DMS. I am the type of person that like, I love that. I love when you will just like talk to me cause I’m a normal human. And so val_marlene_creative, and then all of the ways to work with me are usually linked through there on the, you know, the link in bio, but valmarlene.com is where you’ll find how to apply for one on one or do my course or get freebies, all the things.

Jade Boyd: Are there any specific freebies that you would recommend people start with?

Val Duvick: Yes. So I have a very short and simple three page PDF that is Salary Made Simple. So it’s how you can start paying yourself and build up that three month emergency fund in the process.

Jade Boyd: Perfect. And we will make sure to link all of those in the show notes. So thanks so much again, Val. This was a lot of fun.

Val Duvick: Yes. I had so much fun.

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From MBA to Brand Photographer to Business Coach, I learned the hard way how to build a life-first business that allows me to work part-time hours without sacrificing profit. Now I help service providers simplify and scale their businesses so they can earn their dream income while living life on their schedule. If you're ready to build a sustainable, profitable service business (without the burnout), apply for the Business Edit Group Coaching Program today!

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