This week, I had a lovely conversation with a fellow entrepreneur about our journeys so far running our own businesses.
He’s a bit further down the road on his journey than I am on mine and we got to talking about ways to stop our businesses running our lives.
This is a common problem I hear from the women I work with. These women who left their 9-5 because of overwhelm or to gain a better work-life balance to allow them more time with their families.
Sweet dreams are made of this.
We start our business, expecting to work fewer hours and make more money. We’ll spend that time with our family. We’ll volunteer or do pro-bono work. Everything will be rainbows, unicorns and pixie dust.
Then – reality. Every thing’s on us, isn’t it? We wear a million hats and 99% of them come with a massively steep learning curve which slows us down. We make mistakes, which slow us down even more.
So what happens? Our fledgling business takes over. Everything. We work evenings and weekends, justifying it by telling ourselves we don’t mind because we love what we do. We sacrifice the family time we wanted because we believe we need to work all the hours possible in order to make a new business work. We sink into overwhelm because we buy into the belief that we have to hustle to thrive.
Slowly, we lose our love for our business. We start to resent it and see it as no different to our old 9-5.
And at least the 9-5 paid regularly.
So how do we show our business who’s boss? By reminding ourselves that our life is about US, not our business.
When in doubt, go back to the beginning.
Let’s get back to foundations, shall we? Time to do a little digging and seek total clarity on two things:
What legacy do you want to leave?
What are your 1, 3 and 5 year life goals?
Legacy is important and is obviously tied into our values, so if you haven’t figure out your values yet you need to start there.
Legacy is a big word isn’t it? It sounds like something that’s only attached to world leaders, amazing artists and people running global businesses.
Every person who walks this planet will leave a legacy. If the word intimidates you, try it this way – what are the things you would want discussed about you in your obituary? What do you want the people you love most to remember you for? Raising children? What lessons are you teaching them that you want them to carry into adulthood?
Now work on your life goals for the next year, then for the next three and then five years. Those long-term goals need preparations, you can’t wake up one morning and decide now is the time to complete a big goal.
So my darling business, what are you bringing to this picture?
Once you've done this work, ask yourself this question – how will my business help me achieve my legacy and life goals?
A client I worked with earlier this year is a great example. Her medium-term goal is to start a family, her longer-term goal is to build an international charity. She has no experience working in or with a charity.
Which puts her on a pretty steep learning curve, one with a few bumps along the way – getting her current business running and having a baby.
The solution we came up with was to volunteer a few days a month for a charity. In exchange for offering up her services, she will sit with different teams to learn the ins-and-outs of running a charity, fundraising, moving money around the world, identifying risks and understanding the legal obligations that come with an international charity.
What does that mean for her business now? That she needs to attract higher-ticket clients so she can financially afford that time she will be devoting to achieving her big goal.
It's not your baby.
The next thing to do to take control of your business?
Take the emotion out of it.
I know, I know, your business is your baby. It needs time, nurturing, your love.
Babies demand all that from us don’t they? You know what else they do?
The scream for ages for no reason. They keep us up at night. They spit up all over us just as we’re running out of the door late, dressed to impress.
Taking the emotion away from your business will free you up though. It will allow you to take a step back and look at everything logically. It means you won’t take it personally when someone doesn’t need what you’re selling. It will make you more resilient and able to fix things quicker when something doesn’t work out
Detaching yourself will allow you to do one other thing – to see your business as a job. Just like your 9-5 was. Your business fulfills all the same needs and desires your dream 9-5 job would.
It’s just now, you’re in charge.