Talking to entrepreneurs helps me gain perspective. After being in this game for a while, it’s tough to remember the passing details of the launch phase and how you progressively gained a small business mindset.
Recently, I was shopping at a local second-hand store owned by a husband and wife team. The husband was lamenting how different it is running the shop versus going to his part-time job. When he clocks out from his daytime employer, he has no responsibilities until he shows up the next morning. However, when he joins his wife at their store, he’s always thinking and working on something, whether it’s repairs to the physical building, coming up with sales or pricing the merchandise.
Work talk flows past closing time and often becomes part of dinner conversation. This husband and wife team have a small business mindset that helps them continually grow and improve their store.
Entrepreneurs Are Always “On”
When I first started working for myself, my friends and family assumed I had no schedule — that I could choose to work at the moments I felt inspired to write and that free time was frequent. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a successful entrepreneur, your mind is always focused on the next project, improving the business or planning for the future.
To ensure I meet all my obligations, I have a detailed, hour-by-hour daily schedule that guides me. I use Google Calendar to map out time to pitch clients, find my next gig, invoice projects, build my brand, market my services, update my equipment and work on material.
Being a writer on deadline (with a growing roster of projects) is a strict job. I need to work daily to meet my projected sales goals and keep clients happy. Some days, I’m tired and don’t feel inspired to share my tips, conduct an interview or tackle revisions from demanding editors. But, I’m able to quickly get into the small business mindset after doing some free writing on my personal blog and reminding myself there are bills to pay and that I better get to work.
When you become an entrepreneur, free time becomes questionable. Do you want to sit on the couch and watch a movie for two hours or work on developing your next product that could become a profitable cornerstone to elevate your business? The mental balancing act between business growth and self-care is very real. For some — me included — finding ways to satiate that persistent, passionate enthusiasm and making time to unwind can prove challenging.
Turning Work Time “Off”
As an entrepreneur, you must learn how to draw a line between work tasks and your personal life. I say this gently since a large portion of my income is generated by blogging about lifestyle topics encountered during my personal time. Talk about a blurry line! But at times, you have to completely disconnect from work duties.
I’ve found several ways to temporarily step away from my business to enjoy both mental and physical breaks:
- Embrace automation. Since my readers and clients span the globe, I like to have an online presence 24/7 without being tied to my desk or smartphone all day and night. I use the advanced scheduling feature on Facebook and Buffer to automate social media posts (that I crafted during work hours) when I’m away from my desk.
- Hire an assistant. I’ve been contemplating hiring a virtual assistant to help with tasks I simply don’t enjoy or don’t generate a direct profit from. Activities like invoicing, following up on past-due payments, compiling monthly and annual bookkeeping reports, making website updates and formatting blog posts could all be outsourced.
- Get help at home. Could you trust someone else to do yard work, grocery shopping, run errands or clean your home? If you immediately think you can’t afford these services, compare your average hourly income to what it costs to hire help. I’ve found I can make more per hour working (or that the hour off is more valuable to me) than it would cost to hire someone to mow my lawn.
- Schedule time off. I know this sounds silly, but when you’re riding that wave of excitement fueled by your dreams, it’s easy to simply work too much. I actually have to schedule time to relax, go to the gym and visit with friends. If it’s not on my calendar, I’ll fill that box with another work task.
As you launch your business, you’ll gradually notice a small business mindset creep into your everyday life. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you want your business to succeed. Just remember who’s running this adventure: you or the business? Staying in control of your work-life balance is critical to long-term success as an entrepreneur.