|by Ginni Trask|
Question: Frequently I find myself saying, “If only I had more time….” As my business grows it’s great for the budget, but I’m stretched trying to find time to create balance for my husband and family and my work. Can SCORE offer some suggestions for getting it all under control?
Answer: Most every small business owner has uttered that sentiment more than once, and for good reasons. Though entrepreneurship can be rewarding in more ways than one, achieving success requires a huge investment of time and energy—commodities that are often in short supply.
This challenge is particularly daunting for women entrepreneurs. It’s great to think you can still be “SuperMom” or “SuperMate” in addition to being “SuperBoss.” But familiarity with stress doesn’t mean you can easily take on more. Something almost always has to give and if you’re not careful, the consequences could be disastrous and difficult to repair.
Balancing your business, family, and personal responsibilities is easier than you think. It simply requires some up-front planning and continual monitoring. Here are some tips to get started.
Lahle Wolfe, who has more than 20 years of experience in small business development and management, writes the Women in Business Guidesite for About.com. Wolfe says, “Balance between family and work can be tough for any working mom to achieve, but common mistakes that interfere with finding a healthy balance, can be easily avoided.”
According to Wolfe, the three most common traps a work-at-home woman can fall into are:
• Becoming a shut-in
• Acting as if the business is all yours, therefore, “hands off”
• Passing along your own feelings of guilt
Mompreneurs enter into self-employment for three basic reasons that can all lead to guilt:
• Generate income to provide for the needs of their family
• To be able to spend more time with their children
• Feel good about something they are accomplishing
Now, let’s look at the quandary this creates for women small business owners:
• New businesses usually do not produce significant income right away.
• Establishing and running a business takes time away from children and family life.
• Feeling pulled in so many different directions can make you feel like you are failing at everything, rather than succeeding at something.
“Leave the Guilt for Late-Night Ice Cream Binges,” advises Wolfe, “Providing for your family is not something to feel bad about, and you should never make those you are providing for feel bad about it, either.”
Put your health first. Set aside time every day for rest and exercise, whether it’s taking a walk, a yoga class, or simply watching the world from your back porch.
Learn to say no. This is particularly important for single-person and microbusinesses. It’s great to keep your business growing, but taking on too much compounds your stress and carries the risk of producing less than your best work. Most customers will understand if you’re honest about being unable to do a job. In fact, they may well respect you more for it.
Don’t forget to delegate. Offer employees the opportunity to take on some of your responsibilities or consider outsourcing routine administrative tasks like accounting.
Make it a point to never miss certain activities or events—meal times, movie nights, soccer games, birthdays, etc. This is particularly important during holidays; if the rest of the world is taking a break you should too.
Get out of town. An American Express survey found that 40 percent of the smallest business owners—those with less than $200,000 in annual revenues—plan no vacation time whatsoever in any given year. Don’t be one of them. You may also want to consider a getaway with some fellow women entrepreneurs you’ve met through your networking activities. That way you can relax, share some ideas, and come back refreshed physically and mentally.
Also, rely on your SCORE counselor for ideas and advise on creating the right balance for you. For more information on this and other subjects, visit www.score.org.
Northern Arizona SCORE will be offering a Workshop, Show me the Money, presented by Larry Grossman, Chapter President at the Cottonwood BAC starting September 8, 2012. To register or for more information: 778-7438, http://northernarizona.score.org/localworkshops, email@example.com. Find us on Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn.