To the regular employee, they see a business owner or entrepreneur as being free, free to do what you want, free to act and work as you choose. However, that is not always the case. When a business owner is asked what they do for a living they are almost always followed up with a, “wow that must be nice.” What IS wow, is that those people asking, have no idea what goes into running your own business. It might mean you don’t have to be in the office by 8:00 am, but it doesn’t show that you put in 70 hours last week and didn’t get overtime pay for your extra efforts. Being your own boss can bring about a whole new set of challenges that you hadn’t experienced when you worked for someone else.
Clocking Out: When you are a business owner
When you are a business owner, whether you are a sole proprietor, are in a partnership, or running a corporation, your hours aren’t about clocking in or out. It is about what you can accomplish for the company and what you can do to bring it to the next level. Your time is a given when it comes to your own business. It may consume dinner table talk, hanging out with friends, lying awake at night wondering how you will finance the next big contract you earn. Finding time to turn your brain off is sometimes really hard. It is important to try and find balance not just physically in your life, by being at home and work at reasonable times, but also to find a balance of time spent mentally working on things while you should be relaxing, sleeping, being with those you work so hard for to spend time with them. You need to find a way to be mentally present in those moments. Finding that balance can be very difficult. For everyone their way of letting their day go and being present might mean listening to their favorite songs on their way home, others might do yoga or hit the gym on their way home. Whatever it is each business owner needs to find a way to decompress to help find the balance in their day.
Clocking In: Did you actually ever clock out?
Starting your day, when it probably never really ended because you kept thinking about that next contract or next client you were wanting to bring on, can be difficult because you have to prioritize what actually needs to be completed and when. Knowing your priorities and what needs to be done. If you work from home, you need to separate yourself from your house chores, yes, the laundry needs to be done, but it can wait. Doing your own laundry won’t earn you any new clients. Being able to focus and meet your daily goals is important. As Drew DuBoff from www.drewduboff.com states, “Staying focused while working from home can be one of the most challenging things to do. Something that I do that helps is actively tracking my time. I use Toggl, but that detail isn’t as important. Tracking time allows me to be more concentrated on certain tasks…you could compare it to the Pomodoro timer. I think you almost have to treat your personal life as a client–something you’re being paid to do. Put it on your calendar and focus on those tasks just like you would any other with time tracking. In my experience, the only way to get things done is to put it on your calendar and to not break the promises you make to yourself.”
Failure isn’t always true failure
Failure when running your own business isn’t always what you think. If someone closes a business, it isn’t always a failure. The business owner has learned something from their experience and will be able to take that new knowledge to their next venture. Failing doesn’t mean you gave up, it could mean you had to regroup and start over with a better idea, a better product, and reinvent your business plan to make it to success. Having had a failed business, I can say it wasn’t a bad concept, it was just bad timing. Timing can mean a lot of things. We launched a second location for our franchise after already having a successful franchise for several years. We believed we had the sustainability to make it work. We faced a few challenges going into the new market, but with a well-developed plan we knew we could make it work. It was going to involve some travel and learning a new market. What we didn’t plan for was becoming pregnant and having a complicated pregnancy and choosing the health of our growing family over the business. So, we never look at this ‘failed’ business as a failure, but more as this wasn’t good timing for our launch and we have since refocused on growing locally rather than outside of our current market to be able to keep our family a priority.
Bearing the mental burden of business ownership
There is nothing that I think could have prepared me for business ownership, that is until I had kids! Becoming a business owner teaches you very quickly you need to learn how to prioritize and juggle every single day. After prioritizing your day, you spend time doing everything that has to be done right away, that wasn’t even prioritized or on your list. The to-do-list is never complete, and it is constantly growing. You spend time thinking, oh my god I’m failing, better update my resume to thinking I better hire more help quick. These kinds of ups and downs can be enough to drive you crazy! Entrepreneurs are usually physically and mentally exhausted and not the kind where you can’t wait until 5:00 on Friday exhausted because 5:00 on Friday means nothing to the business owner.
It is no secret that most start-up businesses fail. Statistically only 8 out of 100 businesses that open are still open after ten years.
|Length of Business Operations||Failure Percentage||100 Businesses|
|One Year||20%||80 Remain Open|
|Two Years||30%||56 Remain Open|
|Five Years||50%||28 Remain Open|
|Ten Years||70%||8 Remain Open|
Whether your business venture lasts one year or ten you still deal with the consistent daily ups and downs, which honestly could vary by the hour! Dealing with that kind of emotional mental rollercoaster will play its toll on anyone and being able to know that being a business owner has these ebbs and flows and being able to roll with them can increase you and your businesses survival. If every time you have a down day or moment you think you are going to fail and close up shop, you might not do what you need to do next that could send you and your business soaring. Being able to look past the bumps in the road means you keep pressing on even when it is tough on you.
Entrepreneur Survival Tips
Here are a few tips on how you can create work-life balance when you are an entrepreneur.
Don’t forget to take care of you. If that means taking a longer than a normal shower, do it. If it means turning up your music on the way in and on the way home from work to get the right mood going, do it. If it means getting up early and going to the gym to exercise, do it. Do not feel that taking the time you need is a waste. You will find that you will be more focused because of your self-care.
Be efficient. In whatever you do make sure you are doing it the most efficient way possible. Be efficient with your time, be efficient with your thoughts, be efficient with your money. If that means hiring someone to walk your dog, mow your lawn, or clean your house because you are working on that next big contract, do it. As long as what you are working on has the potential to create more money than what you are spending to have someone else do these chores, paying for a service is not in vain. If you can generate $50 of income in an hour and you pay someone to mow your lawn, which takes an hour, $25 – you have come out ahead by $25, do it.
Set goals. Know what you are working towards and write it down. Don’t just think about your goals, actually sit down and write them out. Put them on your wall by your workspace, have your goals look you in the eye daily. Have your daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, and yearly goals. Know what you are going after and do it.
Avoid clutter. Clutter on your desk will create stress and clutter in your mind. Be sure to file and put things away when you should, those piles sitting there take up space in your office and in your mind about how you need to do it. Don’t let the pile sit there and take up your workspace and your brain space when it comes to staying organized and keeping things tidy, do it.
Know your strengths and work them. Understand your weaknesses and seek out ways to improve upon them. Recognizing you are not a pro at every aspect of your business is crucial to know when to hire out your bookkeeping and when to keep another task on your plate.
Being an entrepreneur takes some grit to start and even more to keep going on a daily basis. Remember every day will bring you highs and lows and recognize that with your personal freedom to work for yourself comes the burden of working harder for yourself than you would ever work for anyone else. You do this to achieve your dreams not someone else’s.