Embracing Work-Life Alignment By Balancing Mindset and Systems with Alane Gianetti

March 26, 2024



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I'm Kara - the voice behind some of the brands you know and love (I know because I love them too!). I'm results-driven and ambitious, just like YOU.

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Have you ever felt like achieving the next revenue milestone or booking a certain number of projects would solve all your problems? I brought on Alane, who shares her experience of having her best year in business when she booked 93 weddings but still felt burned out. It’s crazy to think about 93 weddings, but I can really relate to the idea that more money, work, and clients don’t necessarily fix everything. And they definitely don’t give you that “work-life alignment” everyone is looking for!

Let me introduce Alane for those who don’t know her. She is a wedding calligrapher based in New Jersey and is absolutely fantastic. Not only is she skilled in her craft, but she also provides systems coaching for fellow wedding calligraphers. Today, our conversation focuses on the intersection of systems and mindset because she is truly passionate and brilliant in both areas. Although they may seem unrelated, anyone who has been in business for a while knows the importance of having both.

I truly loved everything Alane had to share, and I’m excited to pass on her insights to you.

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Who is Alane Gianetti?

Alane is a wedding calligrapher and business mentor for fellow calligraphers based in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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I’ve always admired your ability to prioritize systems as a creative business owner. Does it come naturally to you, or is it something you’ve worked on over the years?

I think it’s a mix of both, I’ve always been a very organized and detail oriented person, which goes along with calligraphy being my creativity. I’ve also always been a problem solver. When I started my business, I remember feeling like I was overcomplicating things and thinking to myself, there has to be an easier way to do this. How can I work smarter and more efficiently to save time without having to outsource every single thing?

What does having systems look like?

Having systems looks like being organized in some way on the back end. Because I’m a calligrapher, for example, I would have a place to store all of my client projects and information. Saved templates for everything from initial inquiries to how to respond to difficult questions or pricing questions. Automatic responses, creating added value through their workflow, having check-ins.  Systems can be whatever you want them to be as long as they’re supporting your growth and helping you work smarter, not harder so you can work less.

For people who have systems on their to-do list, where do you suggest people start?

When I was just starting I did what I felt was the least overwhelming and simple. Which was writing down any repeat tasks I found myself doing throughout the day or throughout a client process. For example, responding to new inquiries or creating proposals. I would write it down and ask myself how can I templatize or automate this in my business so it’s not taking me as much time? If I am doing something more than once, it can definitely be automated.

I had to have a mindset shift because I felt using email templates would mean giving my clients a lesser personal experience. Then I realized I can still use the templates and then add something personal into it to make my clients feel seen, heard and special but not at the cost of an hour of my time.

If you aren’t using systems like a CRM yet, start by writing your workflow into a Google Doc or have it plotted out in a Google Sheet so you can track your progress and follow that step-by-step guide rather than having a task manager or CRM doing it for you.

How much do you think tech stuff like HoneyBook or Dubsado matters? 

I think you can get started without tech and just use pen and paper to get yourself used to some sort of system or process. Tech is more important as you’re growing your business and need more of your time to do so, because whether we like it or not, programs and features that these tech have can do things way faster than we can.

However, if you want to start with a CRM it’s a lot easier to get started when you aren’t overwhelmed with work, because you actually have the time to implement the system. Then when you start to build your business and get more clients, you now have that system in place to support that growth rather than being too busy to set up that system that was made to help you. It also presents a more professional look to your clients and visuals play a role into attracting clients with larger budgets.

Do you think people should start implementing systems as soon they starts their business, or should they wait to see how they want to work?

I feel you don’t necessarily have to have it right away. For me I didn’t realize I wanted to work with wedding clients the day I started my business. I was taking on various projects to learn what I liked. You can have a system in place for those different things, it would still make your life easier, I just didn’t think it wasn’t worth my time yet until I where where I was going. It wasn’t until I was focusing solely on weddings that I was able to sit down and think about what I want my client’s journey to look like while working with me and what the service I was delivering was going to be.

What are some of the most important mindset shifts you are making this year?

Embracing the power of saying no. Which is scary, but I know it will make room for new opportunities. I’ve been wanting to expand my business education side of my business since 2020 but I never had the time to make it a priority.

I started one-on-one mentoring sessions at the beginning of last year and I loved that so much. I wanted to make it a priority in 2024 to take on less wedding clients to make room for it because it was something I enjoy and other calligraphers seem to be enjoying. I needed to create that space to actually nurture it and help it grow and see if it can be something. 

Another mindset shift I’m embracing is work-life alignment instead of work-life balance. In my opinion, balance means that my work and life are equal. But I feel as entrepreneurs, our work is so entwined in our life. Being an entrepreneur is an identity, it’s not just your career, it’s who you are. It can be hard to turn off sometimes.

So I am trying to focus more on work-life alignment where they are in agreement with each other and I’m able to work on my work and life things when I want to and having them support each other rather than trying to spend equal time on each and making sure they balance out just so I can maintain this elusive work-life balance that we all talk about. 

You said recently about how you’re shifting the unknown. Can you talk about this idea?

 I used to be very scared about the unknown. I like to know the outcome of things, but I’m also realizing that takes the joy out of it. Part of the excitement is the journey of getting there and the fact that you literally don’t know what’s around the corner. So this idea of trying to embrace the unknown, for me, is embracing the idea of experimentation and play within my business. We take things so seriously sometimes as entrepreneurs, but it is our livelihood, so it’s hard not to take it seriously.

But, I’m also trying to embrace what actually makes us entrepreneurs, which is our ability to experiment, evaluate and problem solve and the sense of resilience that we tend to have. If something isn’t working out, we’re going to go figure out either why or we’re going to go try something new. We’re not just going to lie on the floor and cry. So instead of being so serious and fearing the unknown, I’m just trying to go after the things I want and not put so much pressure on it. Things will work out. I am an entrepreneur. I will figure things out. I will make them work and problem solve and bounce back when something isn’t working.

How do you think we should set better goals in our business? 

When I set goals, I try to define my why along with the what. For example, if I say I’m going to launch a mentoring program as a goal for 2024. I ask myself, why am I doing this? Because I want to build community, I want to serve other calligraphers, I want to create more location flexibility for my own life. This helps me take that goal and put it into action instead of sitting at the top of my goal list of 2024 and it not getting done. 

Another thing I do when I’m setting goals is focusing on things I can control rather than the things I can’t.  This especially becomes applicable when setting any kind of metric goals, like an income goal, or the number of clients you want to book for the year. We can’t control certain things.

So, instead focus on things you can control. How can I show up for my business? How can I pivot if I need to pivot. I have that clear metric goal in mind, and I just try to do something every day that is in my power to work towards that goal rather than just getting to the end of the year and thinking, oh well, I didn’t hit that income goal. But what did I do? How did I improve myself in working towards that goal? How am I now a better person, a better business owner, et cetera?

What are some lessons you’d love to share with someone in their first couple years of business that is still in hustle mode?

Going back to before where I said everything tends to work out. If it’s something you really want and it’s on your heart, I do believe that it’s there for a reason. I don’t believe we are given dreams for no reason. I feel if you go after that dream it’s only going to result in something positive for you. It may not take you exactly where you were thinking you would go or exactly where you want to be going, but I think it is going to take you a step closer to whatever your dream scenario is for your life. 

Second, going back to systems, if you have the time and/or money to invest in setting up your business so it can run smoother with or without you, it will only benefit you a thousand times in the long run. 

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Last question, do you feel like your business had a tipping point, and if you did, what caused it?

My tipping point was at the end of 2021. We had gone through Covid and I had weddings already booked on my calendar and then all the rollovers from 2020. So it was an insane season, I think I had 93 weddings on the calendar that year. I got to the end of that year and income wise, it was my best year yet, which was incredible, but it took a toll on my sanity and personal life because I was in the studio non-stop.

I felt I wasn’t delivering a great level of customer service to my clients because I didn’t have my systems set up the way I should. I was so burnt out, I didn’t want to be doing weddings going into the next year and I knew something needs to change. So, I reached out to my business coach, and I got really serious about changing the way I run my business on the back end and making sure I had those systems set up. That’s when everything shifted for me from mindset stuff to systems, workflows, pricing, strategy, all of that. I just shifted everything.

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I'm Kara - the voice behind some of the brands you know and love (I know because I love them too!). I'm results-driven and ambitious, just like YOU.

Meet Kara