One of the biggest challenges for most entrepreneurs, especially when first starting out, is how to be successful in your business & still have a life. Balance is not always a skill that comes easily when we are following our dreams and building businesses.
I used to own a retail photography studio. For the last quarter of the year, we worked at a frenetic pace. High school seniors, family holiday portraits, school sports and teams, weddings and commercial work. And everyone wanted their pictures before Christmas. By early November it was 80-hour workweeks, not much sleep, not much family time, and a whole lot of stress.
Thanksgiving and Christmas became a stress-fest where I tried to balance making a great Christmas for family with making my clients happy. Unfortunately, it usually meant that I ended up not enjoying the holidays, not doing things that were important to me, and just wishing it were over. Things came to a head the year a wedding client was offended that they could not stop by on Christmas Eve night to pick up their proof book—and I hesitated for even a minute about caving in to their request.
I realized my business had taken over my life.
This is not an uncommon problem for small entrepreneurs. Our businesses are important to us, sometimes almost like another child. I started my photography business before I married and had children, so I was pretty attached to it. After all, we birth our businesses, nurture them and grow them.
But they aren’t children, and they aren’t family members, and it’s important that we don’t sacrifice our family and friends to our businesses. It’s perhaps the most critical business lesson you can learn.
One of the biggest myths of the entrepreneurial world is that you have to put your entire life and being into your business to be successful, that it must become your absolute focus.
You don’t. And it doesn’t. That’s a MYTH.
In fact, you’re more likely to be successful and be happy and fulfilled in your business—and in your life, if you don’t make your business a 24/7 focus. Yes, I know there are some who will disagree with me, but it really is true:
NO ONE gets to the end of their life and says, “I wish I’d spent more time at work.”
So, how do you become a successful entrepreneur or business owner & still have a life?
Here are some steps you can take to reclaim your life while continuing to succeed in your business.
Define what success means to YOU.
Do you know YOUR definition of success? Or are you working off someone else’s definition of success? Are you trying to run your business according to what you think others expect of you or the way you’ve seen other people you perceive to be successful running their businesses? If you aren’t clear on YOUR definition of success, how are you ever going to get there?
Choose your priorities and schedule them first.
What’s most important to you? Not just in your business, but in your life. Do you have a family? Do you have friends? Are they more important than your business? Do they know that? Do you know that? Do you act like they are more important?
Before you justify putting the business first. Stop. It’s your life. If that is what you really want, go for it. If not, change it. It doesn’t matter what the gurus and the experts tell you. Do what gives you peace of mind. If you do not, you will eventually find yourself lonely, and perhaps resentful and regretful of your business.
Learn to Say No
It feels good to be needed. And it’s hard to turn away clients. But if it’s not a good fit, you’re taking away time and resources from the right opportunities. You don’t have to say yes to everyone. In fact, it’s detrimental to your success and your sanity.
For more help in learning to say no and how it can help your life and business, read this post.
Delegate or outsource everything you reasonably can.
Being an entrepreneur, even a SOLOpreneur, does NOT mean you have to do everything yourself. As soon as you reasonably can, outsource the tasks you don’t love, and the things you aren’t good at. When I had my photography studio, the first task I outsourced was bookkeeping. I do not love bookkeeping. Ok, I hate it. I was more than happy to free up a few hours each week and have someone else do the bookkeeping. Once you outsource and give yourself more time for success and life, you’ll be happier too.
Develop a Support Network
Involve your family in the business. Encourage them to be part of it. Whether you think so or not, if you have a family, it’s a family business. Let them be the first ones you turn to for help in busy times or dealing with challenges. Let them be your cheerleaders—and let them know the success is theirs, too. When you do this, you won’t feel so alone, and they’ll understand those times when you do need to put the business first.
Are you still struggling to bring your business and your time under control? I would love to help you create a personalized time management program, and systems to simplify your business management. Drop a comment below or contact me here for a free consulting call to see how you can be successful in your business and still have a life.