Protect your energy – stay sane as a small business owner!
It is said that ‘the first sign of madness is talking to yourself’ – I doubt many of you would consider yourselves mad but I know from talking to freelancers that most of us talk to ourselves!
When we start out in business, we often have a view of what our work life balance will be like – generally we think it will be better; and whilst being a business owner gives you flexibility, it also gives you a lot of responsibility.
You are now the marketer, finance director, administrator, bookkeeper and the key person doing the work in your business which makes it really easy to slip into the trap of working long hours, not eating properly and forgetting why you went into business in the first place. All of these things combined can quickly lead to burnout which isn’t good for you, your business or your family.
I see so many similarities in the qualities of great business owners and these often include focus, drive, passion and perfectionism. These are all fantastic, however, they are not always conducive to a work life balance and it is important to recognise this. When you care so much about your business and your clients it is easy to over work.
So, how do you recognise and protect your energy?
We need to recognise when our energy is dipping – we can’t all be positive all the time, but if you find you are feeling more negative than usual and losing your passion, you need a strategy to deal with this.
Sometimes the way a client has acted, something you have read or even circumstances at home can trigger dips in your energy. Being able to recognise these and learning how to deal with them will also help. Remember not to take things personally!
Once we start to slip into negative thinking and overworking, our constantly alert state can put us at risk of burnout.
Some of the early signs of this are:
- Not taking care of yourself
- Saying no to personal engagements
- Not being able to switch off from work
- Health problems such as digestive issues, weight loss/gain, depression & anxiety
It is important to catch these signs early, check in with yourself and ask for help if you need it.
So how can you avoid burnout?
- Set clear boundaries – plan your working day so that you have set start and end time for work.
- Take proper breaks – this means having a lunch break, going on a proper holiday where you stay off social media/email and ensuring you keep hydrated through the day.
- Build a tribe – have a group of trusted business owners you can share the ups and downs of your journey with in a safe space – talking to others is critical for small business owners.
- Celebrate your successes – every day find 2-3 things that you can celebrate – some days this may be remembering to make a cup of tea (and drink it before it gets cold), other days it will be winning a contract – however big or small you need to have a focus on the successes to see how far you have come.
- Dance/sing/walk/run – do something every day that makes you happy – even just 10 minutes of dancing round your office will lift your energy for the rest of the day.
- Outsource – passing work onto others can help to lighten your load and allow you to focus on what is key to driving your business forward.
Being a business owner is the most amazing thing you will ever do and also the most challenging. One day you will be crying in a corner and the next you will be bouncing off the walls with joy. It’s a rollercoaster that you will want to jump off some days and keep riding others.
Put your why up somewhere in your office so that you will always have it to focus on and keep coming back to this as your circumstances change.