How to run a business WITHIN a life
There are many reasons to start a business. However, the choice to be a solo business operator is usually made with a desire for greater freedom and flexibility to run your business and life on your own terms – whether to enjoy a slower life away from the rat-race, enjoy greater creative freedom, or because you have other commitments that are equally important to you.
All that talk about building empires and working 60-80-100 hour weeks leaves you cold.
And yet, we so often take on board much of the “advice” to do more, grow bigger and hustle, hustle, hustle. Before you know it, your business has taken over your life, and you’re wondering where that slower, easier, freer life disappeared to!
So how can you avoid letting your business run away from itself, and create that flexible, fun, financially lucrative business you first dreamed about?
4 steps to better work-life balance
1. Know your non-negotiables
Before you can really know what to prioritise in work or life, you need clarity around what matters most to you. When we talk about work/life balance, know that there is never actually a single point of balance. It’s far more organic and dynamic than that, because… LIFE!
I’ve often heard this spoken about as a “juggle” with glass balls v. rubber balls. If you drop a rubber ball, it will bounce. A glass ball, not so much.
Spend some time reflecting on your values and work out what tasks or conditions are non-negotiable in business and in life (the glass balls), what can be let go of when life feels overfull (the rubber balls) and what other opportunities you most want to say YES to – things that might stretch you, help you achieve your goals and bring greater joy into your work and life.
Remember that YOU are your most valuable business asset, so looking after your health and wellbeing really needs to be one of those glass balls.
2. Boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries.
The best bit about knowing what you want to say YES to, is that it becomes much easier to say NO to everything else.
Having (and maintaining) boundaries with customers, friends and families will allow you to have the time and energy for those things that matter the most.
So don’t feel bad about saying NO to certain projects or clients that are not a good fit, skipping the latest marketing trend, avoiding people who don’t light you up, or getting your kids to create their own Book Week costume. That’s what the dress-up box is for!
You also need to put some boundaries in place for yourself too… it’s all too easy to waste time and energy on distractions and never get around to doing the important things.
That said, if you are finding yourself constantly distracted or you’re feeling overwhelmed by even the simplest tasks, it’s probably a sign that you need a break. When was the last time you took a day (or a week) off?
3. Honour your Value
If you are being offered more opportunities than you can comfortably deal with, it’s likely that it’s time to raise your prices.
If you run a service business, your personality, skills, time and energy are your most valuable assets. You’re more likely to attract clients who truly value your uniqueness – and are easier to work with – if you charge appropriately for your level of experience and professionalism, and with whom they can build a collaborative relationship over time.
Remember, there is no need for you to charge less for providing the same outcomes as an organisation with higher overheads, just because you’re a solo operator working from home. Nor should you set your rate to compete with overseas providers who do not have to pay $5 (or more) just for a coffee.
If you’re currently working “by-the-hour”, consider finding ways to provide your services in a way that is less time and energy-demanding for you. Explore options like service packages to replace customised offers, group programs instead of 1:1 consulting, or developing memberships, training courses or premium resources to share your expertise with a wider audience as an “evergreen” income stream.
4. Ask for help
Being a solo business owner doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. Nor is taking on employees the only way to share your workload.
Outsourcing can be a fabulous way to be more effective and efficient in your business. It frees up your time to generate greater income doing the work you most enjoy. Having a trusted assistant on board can also help you overcome the social isolation and second-guessing that often comes with running a solo business.
Look to outsource in areas where you are struggling with time, motivation or skills… where bottlenecks occur, where you constantly feel drained or overwhelmed, or where it’s so much cheaper to outsource that it doesn’t make financial sense for you to do the work yourself. Client on-boarding, admin, book-keeping, marketing or simply doing the “grunt” work of your business are good places to start.
Of course, you don’t have to only outsource work tasks. You might also like to engage a cleaner, baby-sitter or dog-walker to help out at home… and please ensure other family members are sharing the workload. Even little ones can help out with simple chores.
Remember, you only get one life… so enjoy it!
This article was originally published on Flying Solo – Australia’s Micro Business Community.
It’s been quite a journey to arrive here… and yet this is probably where I’ve always been heading. Sharing my experience, skills and knowledge to help reimagine work, life and leadership, and bring greater humanity and community into our working lives.
With over 25 years’ experience as a marketing professional – many in my own business – combined with a life-long curiosity and passion for positive psychology, leadership development and personal growth, I have explored ways we can achieve a more “wholehearted” version of success based on four principles – Purpose, Prosperity, Connection and Joy.
Using these as a foundation, I believe we can reshape our world into one that is more sustainable, loving, kind and connected.
Are you ready to join me?