How to Grow Your Online Business in Messy Seasons

We all have messy seasons of life. You know, those times when nothing goes as planned and you feel like you may never come up for air or make it through the storm. And while we’re all facing unique challenges related to our own personal lives, our family lives and our businesses, there are a few ways you can set yourself up to continue to grow your online business in messy seasons.

Today, we’re chatting about what those are and how to embrace them if and when you find yourself in a messy season of life. Sound like something you need? Well then let’s get started.

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How to Grow Your Online Business in Messy Seasons

Note: the following is a transcript of the podcast audio recording that has undergone very little editing.

Hi, I’m Sarah Brumley, and welcome back to another episode of the Mama Business Podcast. And today’s episode is gonna be a little different because I do have kind of an outline to go along with this, but for the most part, I am just gonna talk to you today because I really do think that this topic is one that we don’t address enough. And I think that a lot of us are sitting in messy seasons of life wondering how to get through this, of life wondering how to do it all, how to manage it all, how to keep up with all the things, right?

And how not to end up burned out in the season we’re in. And if that’s how you’re feeling right now, know that you are not alone. I’m gonna talk about my own situation in a minute, but also if you are not in a messy season at this moment, I really think you should stick around for this one because we all deal with messy seasons of life, of business, of whatever it is, and knowing what to do when we get there is critical to having that long-term growth success for our businesses, that long-term success for our families, and whatever else it is that you might be dealing with in your own life.

So let’s just go ahead and talk a little bit about what messy seasons look like. And I have had a couple different messy seasons in my life, actually a lot of messy seasons, but just over the last couple of years, there’s been a few different types of messy seasons. And no two messy seasons ever look the same.

If they did, then we would be like, hey, we can handle this, right? But they tend to just come out of the blue and just kind of smack us in the face, right? And everything might be going great, honestly, in whatever we’re doing in our lives.

And then suddenly we’ve got this major crisis that broke loose, or we have the inability to just keep up, right? Or our energy levels are low, or whatever else it might be. Your messy might look different than mine, but I do know that it never comes at a time when we’re expecting it, okay?

And so in my own life, I’ve talked actually on this podcast a bit about burnout. I talked about my messy season of burnout, how I got there, all those things in episode two. So you could definitely check that one out.

And then I’ve also talked a little bit about the fact that I had to take an entire summer off due to a family crisis. And so that one I talked about in episode 14. So if you’re feeling like, hey, Sarah’s life’s not a mess at times, my life is a mess too.

So just know you’re not in this alone. We do this together. But I am currently in a season of messy, which is one of the things that has been sitting on my heart because I don’t talk about it very much.

I’m actually really, really terrible about talking about the things that, golly, that aren’t easy to solve. I have a really hard time with that. And I am a very, very, like you know from these podcast episodes, tactical stuff is what I thrive on.

I am very good at saying, hey, this is a problem, let’s fix it with this solution. But when we end up in messy situations where there really isn’t a way to fix the problem, or that problem just can’t be fixed easily, and so it takes time and brainpower and whatever else it is, it’s those seasons where we really need to have strategy in place in order to be able to keep going, or at least in order to be able to keep the growth going while we take a step back. And so I’m gonna talk about those in a minute, but my own messy season right now has gone on for about three months now.

And it’s come with lots of sickness in our family. I think we’ve had the flu, the cold, the whatever else it is, multiple weeks repeatedly. We’ve had babysitters cancel.

I took a course as well, so that added a whole nother layer of just time necessary where I didn’t have a lot of time because of all of the other things going on. And then we also have had to deal with a mental health crisis with our daughter. And I’ve talked about that a little bit here and there, and I’m not gonna get into specifics because ultimately that’s not what this podcast is about, but it took me away from this as we fought to keep everybody safe, fought to keep insurance coverage in place for different things that she needed and so on and so forth.

And so those have all weighed very heavily on me and have led to a season where there’s a lot of guesswork in what my time’s gonna look like, what my days are gonna look like, who’s gonna call, what major catastrophe might break loose, and so on and so forth. And so I really do understand that, and I really want you to know that if you’re in a season like that as well, or you are in the future, that you’re not alone and that this happens even to the best of us. And then over this last week, we’ve actually had three people within our social circles unexpectedly pass away.

And so quite honestly, it’s been very disheartening. It’s been not just a hard and messy season, but it’s been emotionally draining. And it’s been, for me, creatively draining because when I’m feeling that heavy weight of emotional, the emotional end of life, right?

I don’t feel as creative. I don’t have the same energy that I want to input into whatever I’m doing with business or with my family or with my life. And so we have to, and this is one of the things that I know I didn’t do early on in my business.

I did not have these three things that I’m gonna talk about today. I did not have them in place. And so I did slowly push myself through, or not slowly push, but I just kept going, right?

I kept pressing forward through the messy seasons. And that is where I landed in burnout. And so today let’s talk about three things.

I just want to kind of expound on what they are and help us understand how to put them in place within our businesses so that when we do end up in these messy seasons of life, when we do end up feeling like we don’t have the wherewithal to just keep going, we are still able to run a successful business, even if we don’t do it at the same level we have been doing all along, I guess would be the key. Okay, so anyways, I’m talking in circles probably, and hopefully you can just be okay with that today, but I really feel like this is something we need to address.

Step #1: Know the Essentials

So I do know, and I do think that the most important, number one way that you can continue to grow your business during a messy season of life is by knowing the essentials.

And so when it comes down to the essentials of your business, this is essentially the absolute bare necessities you need in order to keep your business up and running and not lose all of the momentum that you’ve put in over the last couple of months, couple of years, whatever it is for the length of time that your business has been opening. So in my case, this comes down to client attraction, which is getting paying clients in the door, and then also client satisfaction, which is keeping the clients that I do have happy and getting them the results that they were looking for when they came to work with me. So these are the things that I highly prioritize as my essentials within my business.

And on the client attraction end, I can say very clearly that I use my podcast, which you’re currently listening to, and I use the organic marketing strategies that I have implemented over the years on my website, through my content, through my podcast content, through my blog, whatever else it might be. And so ideally in a messy season of life, like the one that I’m in right now, I’m gonna be able to keep up with these things, okay? In the best case scenario of a messy situation, that’s what that looks like.

I’m still podcasting, I’m still showing up for you consistently, and my website content is currently being refreshed or consistently, I guess, maybe not currently, but consistently being refreshed and added to and that type of thing. Because I know that those are the things that help me continue to attract clients to my business, and that’s where it affects my bottom line, right? With my revenue and all of those things.

So those are high on my priority list, but here’s the deal, with both of those things, I know that they are evergreen content. I know that the content that I’m creating for this podcast and the content that I have created on my website are things, they’re both things that I am going to be able to continue to attract people with because they are evergreen. Because once I published a podcast episode, somebody could be listening to this three, four, five years from now and still wanting to come work with me.

So ideally in that messy situation, I’m keeping up with those client attraction things. But if I’m not able to, if I actually cannot do it, that’s okay because I am still attracting clients through the content that has already been put out into the world. And that is the beauty of an organic marketing strategy, friend.

So if you don’t have that in place, you definitely need the Mama Business Blueprint. Jump in, you can go to and get into that. And I will help you get this all up and running for yourself so that you will be set up the way I am.

But as far as the essentials go, that other side of that is client satisfaction. And that’s a totally different thing because if I’m working with a client one-on-one, then I will absolutely have to prioritize that as the thing that I am going to be working on. Because if she needs a client meeting to discuss something about her website, or there’s something that needs to go on with troubleshooting or whatever else it is, I have to be present for that, okay?

And ultimately, that’s my number one priority. That is my number one essential within my business. So obviously there are a lot of other things I do within my business, but when it comes to these messy seasons, I know that my bare essentials, those things that I just talked about, the client attraction, the client retention, right?

Client satisfaction, those are the most important things. Everything else in my business can be placed on hold if it needs to be. to be.

And so I just want to say that if you aren’t certain what your business essentials are, now’s the time to figure it out. Outline exactly what you need to do to keep your business up and running, because a messy season is just a season. You’re going to come back.

You’re going to end up on the other side of that season. And you’re going to wish that you had put this in place so that your business could have continued to thrive throughout that messy season. Okay?

This is one of the best ways to ensure that happens. So step one, know your essentials.

Step #2: Utilize Your Systems

And the second thing that I want to say that you absolutely need to have in place is you need to be fully utilizing your systems within your business, because when a messy season happens, if you don’t have your systems in place, automated, systematized, right, ready to go, you’re not going to be doing that in the heat of the moment, which means that if stuff’s not working properly, it’s going to create even more frustration for you during that time frame.

And I know for myself that when I burned out several years back, the one thing that I knew I didn’t have correctly in place was my business systems. And when I came back from that period of burnout, that was the first thing I put into place because my business essentially stood still during that time frame. I didn’t have automation.

I didn’t have things up and running where clients could walk right in and pay me and, you know, get my course or get my services or whatever else it was. No, I was walking them through the entire process. That’s time and energy, lots of time and energy that I didn’t have in a messy season to be able to give to that type of thing.

And so the more automated your systems can be, the more your systems work in a way that you need them to, the better off you are going to be when when it comes to growing your online business during messy seasons. And so that’s definitely something that I teach also in the Mama Business Blueprint, which I am just going to shamelessly plug because it opens this week. And I am so excited about the results my students are going to get in that program.

So you can go to to get started with that. And I will help you set up all of the systems you need and automate them within your business. But ultimately when I’m in a messy season, I just know that I don’t have time and energy to waste.

So a couple of the platforms that I do use or programs I do use, and I can just spitball them here, but no taking up, have it in place, have it ready to actually like keep track of the things that come up, the ideas that come up, because when you don’t have a lot of time, it’s important to get those things out of your brain onto a piece of paper. So either an assistant or somebody else can deal with them, or you can come back to them in the future. And so that’s definitely a big one for me.

And it’s something that I’ve actually incorporated as part of my project management hub. And I’m including that as part of the blueprint. So if you want that, you can jump on in as

But that’s one of the big things that I think is important. It’s even just those simple things like a note taking app. What about an online scheduler?

If you don’t have your set up, this is something that I definitely recommend because especially during messy seasons, if it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t happen. That’s just me. And honestly, in real life, if it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t happen.

So that’s kind of, you know, just the reality of the situation. But the best part about having a scheduler in place is that I just don’t have to go back and forth with clients or with contractors or with anybody else. I can just give them a link.

That scheduler is hooked up to my own personal calendar, which means that if I have time available, then somebody can schedule with me. And if I don’t, it’s very apparent that they have to schedule a week or two weeks out because I’m busy. Okay.

And so that’s definitely something to have in place. Plus it keeps you from getting double booked, which in a messy season can be super easy to do quite honestly. So it takes the pressure off.

I think that that’s another thing that I highly recommend having in place. And then, like I said, you know, one of the things I learned through my season of burnout was that I actually didn’t have my client onboarding process automated well enough. Okay.

And this is something now, like when I came back from my season of burnout three years ago, I put this in place right away because now during a messy season, I rely very, very heavily on the fact that I’m not out like asking people to work with me and then having to walk them through every step. And I also don’t have to be searching for all of the things that a new client might need to get started with me when they do decide they want to work with me. Right.

I want them to be able to find me online and see what I’m all about and decide they want my services and pay the bill and sign the contract and get me all the things I need in order to start the project without me having to do all of that for them or walk them through all of those steps every single time. So having a clear automation in place for this, or honestly at the very minimum, just having standard operating procedures and links and checklists that you use every time just makes this a very seamless process. Okay.

Even during a messy season when you don’t feel like you have a lot to give. Now, of course, this is definitely like these things I’m talking about right now. They’re not a comprehensive list of all the tools and strategies you can use in your business.

But I just wanted to give you an idea of how like really using your systems properly can help your business achieve growth, even when it just feels like you can’t go on anymore or you don’t have it all together or life just feels messy. And all you want to do is hide and cry and never see anybody ever again. Okay.

Trust me, been there, done that, understand it.

Step #3: Take a Step Back

So those are the first two things, making sure that you have your systems that you’re using, that you know the essentials of what you are doing in business when you have to pare back completely. But I do just want to give you a little bit of permission here with this last thing I’m going to say.

And that is that some seasons, some messy seasons, like my one where I had to take an entire summer off, some messy seasons just require you to take a step back and that’s okay. And maybe it’s not taking a step back from your business. Maybe you just need permission to be able to say, I don’t have time to volunteer for whatever I’m doing outside of work or outside of my family, or I am going to give myself grace in whatever this thing is that I have not completed yet or whatever it is.

But the truth of the matter is that there are just some seasons of life that leave us feeling flat, that leave us feeling like emotionally and mentally drained or just needing time to recover, to cry, to mourn, to get back up. Right? I mean, sometimes we just need to give ourselves that space.

And as a society, we’re not very good about that. Honestly, we just press through. We just go, go, go.

And that’s not always the right decision. Okay. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break when you need one.

Okay. The key is just knowing what season you’re in. Trusting your body, trusting your energy levels, your gut feeling, or even the feeling of the Holy spirit.

I trust that a lot. And just understanding when those feelings are there saying, Hey, it’s time to take a moment and stop and reflect to just stand still that we actually do that. Okay.

I’ve had to do that a lot. I’ve had to do that several times over the years of my business. And sometimes it’s just a day or sometimes it’s even just an hour, but sometimes it’s even a longer period of time.

Okay. And honestly, one of the simple ways that I do this and you know, it shows up within my own business is just knowing that sometimes there are days of the week, I’m just not going to be available. And honestly, there are a lot of times where I say, okay, you know what?

I got to the end of today. There’s nobody on my schedule for tomorrow, but you know what? I’m just going to put my scheduler as booked for tomorrow so that I can just have some time to rest.

And maybe that’s just resting in the fact that I’m not going to be personally engaging with people. Okay. Maybe I’m going to be working on things on the backend, but really just understanding the season that you’re in.

Okay. You might have to say no, and you might have to clear a day, a week, a month and rest and recharge. And that’s okay.

So. Honestly though, I do have to have a little caveat here because we don’t want that to be our go-to right. We’re serious women with serious goals and businesses, and we do have to take them seriously, I guess, for lack of a better word, but I do know that we need rest and time to take care of those around us.

The better way to do this is to schedule rest into your life as a regular occurrence. But if you’re sitting in a messy season, I just want to give you the permission to take that space that you need and take a little break if you need. Alrighty.

Take Action: Grow Your Online Business in Messy Seasons

So I guess that that just kind of brings us to the action part of this episode. And we know we love action because action is where the dreams turn into the reality. And I just want you to take action today by doing two things.

Okay. Actually, I guess I want you to do three things. I want you to really think about all these three things, but I really, really want you to think about what your essentials are.

What are they? And what would it look like to be successful in your business? If you had to pare it back to the bare minimum, because honestly, it just doesn’t matter if this is the best season of your life or the worst, because there is going to tie, you know, you’re just going to get to a time in your life when things feel messy.

And it could be like, even in a bad season, it doesn’t feel messy. You still able to press through, but there will be a messy season in your life at some point in time. And at that point, you’re going to have to decide between one priority and another, and you’re not going to want to spend the time at that moment, guessing what’s the thing that keeps your business alive and kicking.

I promise you, you’re not going to want to. So clarify what your essentials are, and then really look at your systems. Okay.

Are you using them to their fullest potential? Because it takes very little time or effort to get things up and running in a way that’s automated, that is working for you, and that takes you or keeps you from having to have so much hands-on effort into it all. So something to think about.

If you are looking to clarify your essentials, set up that content marketing framework, know exactly what you’re doing with your systems and your automations, and you want somebody to walk you through it, like holding your hand along the way, then jump into the Mama Business Blueprint. It opens on May 1st, and I would love to see you in there. You can do so by going to and checking out all the things and then getting yourself registered.

I’ve made it super affordable for you because I want you to have the same clarity and freedom in your business that I have in mine, despite this messy season that I’m currently sitting in. My business has seen so much growth in this season, and I know that yours can see growth when you face a messy season as well. So anyways, whatever you decide, Mama, know that I am cheering you on, and I look forward to chatting with you again next time.

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