When I built my first business, I forgot to factor myself, my dreams and my capacity into my business plan. I had eight new clients in my very first week, and business took off. I was elated. My days quickly filled up with client sessions, and I would book them anywhere from 7 am to 9 pm. I thought I had to be available to everyone that I had to make exceptions to be successful. I believed that success meant sacrifice, and I was willing to show up and work to the point of exhaustion as I tried to be everything to everyone.
I made so many mistakes. I made many of them for years, and it wasn’t until I let that business go and started a new one that I completely turned those mistakes around to create a life and business that I love!
I forgot to schedule myself into my schedule. I thought that time for my family and me would fill in the gaps, and it would all work out. I was wrong. In May of 2009, I remember flipping through my planner to see when I would have time for a nap. When I realized that I would have to wait six weeks, I knew that I wasn’t building something sustainable.
When I was beginning my online business in 2014, I knew I had to do it differently. I started by creating an ideal schedule. I looked at my week, and the very first thing I did was make myself and my family my top priority. I wasn’t working just to save up so that I could finally enjoy my life when I retired. I am an entrepreneur because I want to enjoy my life now. Live my dreams now. It meant making significant changes, and it started with my daily schedule.
I was working crazy hours! I thought I had to be available all the time and respond to people the instant they emailed or messaged me. I felt an internal pressure to be accommodating to everyone. My hours were the height of overwhelm for me. It seemed that work never ended.
Have you ever been to see a specialist? The doctor doesn’t call you and say “Hi love, what works best for you?”, they call and say “we’ve booked you in on Tuesday at 3 pm”, and then you make it work. You make it work, because it matters to you. This concept helped me shift my mindset. I didn’t need to be that rigid, but I needed better boundaries. If someone couldn’t make it to see me within my work hours, they could find someone else to see, and that was okay! I didn’t need to serve everyone. I decided what hours felt right to me and guess what, my schedule filled up during those times, and people made it work, because working with me mattered to them! I also stopped replying to work emails at night, because having time did not equal being available!
At the end of my first year, I got a call from my accountant, and he informed me that I had given more discounts than the total that I earned! I was so uncomfortable with money when I was getting started. I was afraid to charge the true worth of my services, and I wanted to help make it easier for everyone, forgetting that I had a house, a clinic and a family to sustain, too!
I learned not to undervalue myself and my services. I worked on my relationship with money and the old stories I was telling myself about it. I stopped discounting myself and started to pay myself first. This shift enabled me the time, energy and capacity to give back to the community in an abundance of ways that felt really good! I was able to host events and create free offerings that came from my overflow. It’s hard to make a difference in the world if you can’t pay your bills.
I made a lot of other mistakes, as most entrepreneurs do, but these were the ones with turnarounds that were the most life-changing!
If you’re starting a new business, or are currently working in a way that is leaving you with so little time for you and your family that feel like you’re on the fast track to burnout, I see you. I was you!
You want to do good in the world, and you want to make a difference. I understand that, deeply. You might think that putting everyone else first makes you kind, and you are kind. Still, if you’re not the priority in your life and business, you are building something impossible to sustain long term, and I know you want your beautiful business dreams to work out. I hope that by applying these tips to your own business, you’ll find a renewed sense of joy, energy and balance in your life that will fuel you and have you doing your work in the world for years to come!