When you are a hungry entrepreneur starting your new business, your work-life balance can seem out of whack. You’re working so hard to get your business going that you sometimes forget what it is you’re even trying to achieve. You may even start to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” That’s when you know you need to sit down and map out a strategy that’s going to sustain you personally and professionally. That’s when you know you need to learn to say “no.”
Most of us start our own businesses because we long to live life on our own terms. We want to be our own boss, make our own decisions, and create something bigger and better for our lives. We long for more time with our families, more time to pursue our passion projects, more time to give back to our communities. The theory is that by being our own boss we are always in control. The reality is that in the short-term, while building our businesses, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. The things we desire seem elusive and we start to lose the control we long for. This is especially true for solopreneurs who are doing it all. You’re the creative, marketing, sales, fulfillment and customer service departments all rolled into one exhausted individual. You wear all the hats and start to feel like the victim of your own success.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty four-hour days.” Zig Ziglar
When you learn to prioritize and say “no” to certain tasks and projects you will see that things start to become more balanced. Saying no to projects that take you away from your goals and mission makes you available to say yes to the projects you really want. I know, this is really tough to do in the beginning when you feel like you have to take every project that comes along just to pay the bills. And, in the beginning when you are barely making any income it’s difficult to hire the help you need. But there comes a tipping point when it’s crucial to do just that if you’re going to grow your business and keep your sanity. When you have the strategy and team in place to grow, you will finally be free of the constraints that come from being a one-person show.
The issue isn’t just time management and productivity. Those certainly are important and there are time management and productivity tips galore, from books to blog articles and webinars. For an excellent list of ways to work smarter, not harder, check out this article .
It goes deeper than that. It’s a mindset. When you start your business you are consumed with the need to have enough business to keep afloat. This leads to a scarcity mindset so you take every project that comes along. But turn this around and view your business leads as flowing from abundance and you’ll see that it opens you up for more business and more opportunities. In more practical terms, it’s about being able to say no to certain things so you are available to do the things you really want to do.
If you’re saying yes to the wrong things, you’re saying no to something more valuable. If you say no to the right things, you free yourself to say yes to the things that add value to your life. (Tweet This)
There is power in saying No. Try relieving yourself of the burden of these things:
- Projects that distract you from your mission.
- Clients that don’t value your time.
- Clients that don’t pay their invoices on time.
- Doing it all. Trying to do everything leads to burn-out fast.
- Interruptions during your work time.
- Heavy social media use. It’s a huge time suck and that’s time you’ll never get back.
Say yes to the things that align with your values and goals:
Set time aside each day just for family and personal pursuits. You started your business to give you more time and financial freedom, so make sure that your family and other personal interests are a top priority. This is a huge factor in feeling like you have achieved work-life balance.
Set expectations up front with your clients. Let your clients know what they can and cannot expect from you. There is a fine line between providing excellent customer service and being taken advantage of by clients or customers. If your clients know what to expect up front it will be easier to set boundaries while maintaining first-class service.
Pursue and accept work projects that allow you to grow and stretch yourself creatively. By engaging in work that allows you to grow it sets you up for a self-perpetuating cycle of future growth opportunities.
Hire staff and empower them to grow and learn. Letting go of certain tasks that are better suited to other team members will lift a weight off of you and give you the time you need to do what you do best. For helpful questions to ask yourself about your growth strategy check out this video blog.
Set a daily/weekly work schedule and stick to it. Let your team members know that you’re only available during work hours and unavailable during personal time.
Set time aside each day/week to chat with team members. Let them know when to expect your undivided attention. Then don’t vary from that routine. You will all get into the habit of holding questions and fully discussing issues during a specific time of each day/week. This is a huge time-saver. Of course, emergencies will happen, but the more you try to stick with this routine the more productive you all will be.
Set a limit on the amount of time you spend on your social channels. Make sure the time you are spending on social is used for engaging with others and building relationships. Use a social media management tool to schedule your posts.
When accepting new projects ask yourself these questions so that you are only accepting those projects that add value to your life and business.
- Does it align with my mission?
- Does it align with my goals?
- Does it align with my strengths or an area in which I’d like to grow?
- Does it align with my relationships?
Set boundaries on your time, focusing on adding value to your work and life. Align yourself and your team fully with your mission and goals and you will see that you are setting yourself up not only for growth, but better work-life balance. As you begin to set realistic expectations, trust your strategy, pursue the right projects and empower your staff, you will find the satisfaction in your work that has eluded you. And, finally, all the work will be worth it as you begin to be able to spend more time doing the things you desired when you started your business. You’ll have more time for family, friends and the projects that bring you joy.