Rome was not built in a day, and no matter how hard you work, your business won’t be either. There’s a famous saying that “it takes ten years to create an overnight success”. Many businesses close down in the first few years, and I believe that one of the main reasons for this is that business owners burn out. I liken running a business to having a baby….a new business keeps you up all night, absorbs all of your money, saps you of energy, causes you to worry incessantly, but also brings you lots of joy and pride. So, expect that it is a long haul, and hard work, and ensure that you create plenty of balance in your life, so that you don’t burn out. Let me share a few practices that I use to give me the energy to run my business well.
1. Celebrate your birthdays
Just as a mother celebrates the birthday or her son or daughter, it’s important that you celebrate your achievements of the year that has passed – even if it’s just the fact that you’ve made it through. On our business birthday every year (March 30th) I give myself a little pat on the back that I’ve made it through another year.
2. Have a day off
One of the practices that I instituted early on, and in hindsight I am so grateful for, is not working on Sundays. Having a full day off each week allows me to rest and relax for the week ahead without guilt. I wholeheartedly believe that if it weren’t for this practice, I would have burnt out long ago, and wouldn’t be in business today. Sometimes it has been hard to abide by this, particularly when I have lots of work to do or am feeling overwhelmed, but I’ve learnt that taking a day off each week recharges me so that I can be doubly as productive during the week. Running a business is a twenty four, seven job, so having one day off each week is not only a blessing, but a necessity.
3. Practice what you preach
As dietitians we preach the importance of stopping for meals, exercising daily and getting a good night sleep. These are essential habits for us too. As much as our business can feel overwhelming at times, no one will die if we stop for lunch, and even if you’re business is struggling financially, you’ll be able to make much wiser decisions if you have refuelled.
4. Schedule holidays
When you run your own business, you never have time for holidays. You’ll either be busy with clients, or busy marketing so that you can be busy with clients! As such, I have learnt to take time at the start of each year to schedule in my holidays. Personally, I always close down the business between Christmas and New Year for a complete break, try to schedule a couple of weeks away somewhere for some fun, and also schedule two weeks each year for what we call ‘stocktake week’. During stocktake week, we still work, but we close down the business from patients so that we have time to take a breath and catch up on administrative tasks that have been building up. It’s a great opportunity to take a breath and recharge.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my experiences. If you have more questions about how I manage my work life balance, please feel free to get in touch.