We happily jump in to starting a business with visions of lazy days filled with flexibility and freedom as we check our emails from some tropical setting. We see ourselves planning out our workday around fun activities instead of feeling like a slave to our laptop.
Then reality sets in.
We start to realize that being a business owner comes with many responsibilities as we juggle multiple roles from departments we didn’t even know existed while working in our corporate mundane job.
Our typical day as a business owner starts to take shape with the first two hours wearing your marketing and sales hat as you sell your soul for new leads and frantically schedule consultations. By midday you have thrown on your accountant hat- haphazardly – as math was never ‘your thing’, as you juggle invoices and budget spreadsheets. By the close of the day, after skipping lunch due to lack of time, you finally get to all of your emails and happily toss your admin assistant hat over in the corner with a loud sigh. The sad part is, that you still have a ton to do but your family is expecting a nice dinner with your presence and if you’re a single mom like me, you’re expected to actually make dinner.
At some point getting a job feels like a dream vacation. One where you can focus on mastering your craft solely without feeling like you’re dropping the ball on your health and fitness, relationships and most of all, your family.
I’ve got good news for you, the pipedream that you had about your business is a reality for many business owners. It’s not a well-kept secret, its just a matter of stepping back and course correcting.
As a business owner of 8 years, and a single mom, I’ve learned a lot along the way and I’ve also helped my clients achieve work life balance as well. It’s a balancing act for sure but its worth it. When I’m happiest in my business, my relationships blossom. When my relationships are full of love and connection, my business success soars. It all works together synergistically.
So, first off, let’s get clear, where did you take a wrong turn?
Mistake #1: You forgot to create healthy boundaries.
This one is an easy one to do, so love yourself through it and forgive yourself, this is a not a shame game. When we first start our business, we feel low self-worth and will scramble to take on any client. We will lower our fees and work with people we don’t even like that much. Its ok, you learned what you needed to, so let’s start creating a healthy boundary by raising your standard. Focus on abundance over scarcity and quality over quantity. I personally would rather have a handful of private high paying VIP clients over a cluster of low paying clients that make me feel like I’m being spreading myself too thin. My mindset had to shift to; I don’t need to save the world, just a handful. I also had to shift my thinking that I would rather give more quality to a few, instead of crumbs to many.
There is still time to course correct this step by:
- Slowly raising your fees and limit your time, the more ‘in demand’ and unavailable that you are, the more you can charge.
- Knowing who your ideal client is and who you enjoy working with the most, and never settle for anything less.
- Getting clear on your value and honor yourself by holding a higher standard, stick to it, no exceptions.
- Being aware that when a time-consuming opportunity crosses your path that will make free time with loved ones scarce, then it’s too expensive. Time is our most valuable asset and is irreplaceable.
- Learn self-love and practice saying NO. If you’re saying yes out of guilt and peer pressure, then you better circle back and say no. Listen to what lights you up in business and say yes to that instead. Make sure what you’re saying yes to, is a part of your 5-year business plan and not a distraction from your long-term goals.
Mistake #2: Trying to cut corners as a solopreneur.
This one is still a work in progress for me. I can be a bit of a perfectionist and like to do things myself. I have slowly allowed myself to choose progress over perfection and it’s helped me to expand my two agencies.
You know deep inside of you that there is an expert out there that can tackle whatever project you have on your plate a lot faster and with more accuracy than you ever could. Your stubbornness wants to figure it out and do it your way, but is that the best use of your time? What could you have done in that timeframe while you were struggling to learn a new task through YouTube tutorials and pulling your hair out?
I’m going to guess that you could have been working on something else that highlights your strengths instead of feeling frustrated. Trying to be something you’re not, creates stress. Focus on your wins and allow someone else to shine where you struggle.
How can you create this to be your new default?
- Make a list of tasks and projects and highlight the parts that you enjoy. Underline the areas that you detest so you can delegate them to an expert. I’ll give you a hint, the tasks that you resist the most, need to be outsourced. Just do it, you will thank me later.
- Schedule one day every 2 weeks where you look for outsourced assistance. If you’re intimidated by hiring someone full or part time, use trusted agencies for outsourced virtual support. There are many to choose from and they will even give you quotes and suggestions of who would work best within your budget.
- Allow yourself to let go. The important focus is that the job gets done versus sitting on your ‘to do’ list which will slowly drain your energy. Give someone else the opportunity to shine at what they do best.
A personal example, my car battery died while I was out of town for a couple of weeks. My daughter’s boyfriend loves to work on cars, and I hate all things – I repeat HATE all things that have to do with car maintenance. It literally drains my energy. I offered to pay him to take my car battery in to be replaced as it was still under warranty. He happily took the offer to make some extra cash while working on something he enjoys. It’s a win-win when you allow others to work in their “zone of genius”. If you’re not familiar with the term – get the book, The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks.
Mistake #3: Not giving yourself permission to punch out.
I know that it feels like the ship will sink if the captain takes a break, but there is this thing called autopilot, otherwise knowns as systems, that you can set up in your absence. Let software and technology take your place from time to time with autoresponders and scheduling links.
When I first started my business, I had every notification alert switched on and would allow my phone and laptop to dictate my day. I would be answering messages from multiple social media platform, texts, and email alerts. I felt like I was being pulled in multiple directions at all hours of the day. It didn’t help that I was also working with many global clients in multiple time zones and I started to slowly lose my sanity. I got to the place where I didn’t even want to sign on any new clients if it meant I would get less and less ‘me time’. I treasure my alone time and I was slowly losing any glimpse of a social life.
If you’re afraid to let go of the wheel, start small by unplugging for a few hours, then a day or two, then work your way up to a whole week. Once you see that your business isn’t going to sink, you will feel more confident with unplugging more and plugging back into life.
Start small with:
- Setting a timer to check your email every 2 hours, instead of getting distracted by replying immediately to every request. Your clients should know by now that you’re busy and will take the time to reply properly when you can give them your 100% focus.
- Schedule all of your calls on 2 or 3 days of the week so you have time freedom and flexibility to work uninterrupted the other days of the week.
- Change up your routine, take some time off in the middle of the day. My quality of work goes downhill after too much screen time so I will go for a walk, run a quick errand, or even take a bubble bath in the middle of the day. I noticed that my quality of work improves when I unplug for a bit and come back to the project with a new fresh perspective.
- Turn off all of your alerts on your phone or set it to ‘do-not-disturb’. This one is my favorite and I rarely have my phone alerts on anymore. I do have certain numbers that bypass the do not disturb mode but otherwise, I love working uninterrupted.
- Try shutting down your laptop on a Sunday and make a rule to never open it up for the whole day. I still get tempted by this one, but by Monday morning I am laser focused to be in a state of productiveness.
If you do not course correct these 3 mistakes, you will start to resent your business and start looking for a job. You will slowly lose your passion and the reason why you went into business in the first place.
Bakers love to bake, mechanics love to work on cars, home decorators want to paint and sew. They didn’t know they had to master their marketing and websites and everything else in between, so many feel like they were baited into thinking that business ownership would be their happily ever after.
It still can be your happily ever after once you course correct these 3 mistakes that I’ve mentioned above.
Let’s go find your passion again by rediscovering your WHY. Why did you go into business in the first place? What lights you up? What is something you could work on without ever looking at the clock? What is your zone of genius?
Find your happy place in your business again and schedule more of THAT.
You can do it – I believe in you.
See you on the beach, checking your emails, in fact – I will buy you a Mai Tai!
P.S. Schedule a free consult with me HERE if you’re having some challenges with work life balance or need to delegate some work to my agency.