Balancing Home and Work as an Entrepreneur
One of the best things that you can do for you and your small business is to take a break, whether that be for a holiday or special event, or simply because you need time away just for you.
But how do you take a break when you’re already trying to balance home life and work as an entrepreneur?
Benefits of Taking a Break
In today’s culture, there is a popular degree of heroism wrapped around the number of hours a person works each week. Looking at this logically, why would a person feel a sense of pride in announcing “I’m busy…I put in 60 hours last week” or “I’ve not taken time off from my business in five years”?
The benefits of taking a break from your small business far outweigh any gains you may attribute to never taking time off. So, what advantages are derived from taking a “real” break?
By the way, a real break equates to NOT thinking about work while you are away from your business and to refrain from guilt feelings while doing so.
Taking time away from your business results in many pluses for you and your business (and we’re not referring to monetary revenue). Here are the top three:
By taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your business. Picture yourself making decisions for your business while you don’t feel well physically or mentally. In times like that, you may not want to make decisions at all, much less think about your business. Good health is essential to your business.
With the multi-level responsibility that comes with being an entrepreneur, it is easy to lose clarity when you avoid taking time away from your business. The fog will lift simply by stepping away (completely) from the business for deliberate short or longer periods of time.
Relationships are the “Name of the Game,” inherently crucial to the growth and stability of your business. Relationships are integral to your mental health as well. There is no balance between your home and work as an entrepreneur without the nurturing of vital personal relationships.
Now that we’ve pored over the bottom-line reasons you need to take a break from your business, let’s talk about the steps you should take to prepare your business for your well-deserved time away.
Preparing Your Business for Your Absence
Your first step in preparing for time away from your business is to not stress over it. You may have gotten used to working 60-hour (or more) workweeks, or you may have not taken a vacation…or even a day off from your business (ever), so you’re out of practice and don’t know how to plan for the break. Time away isn’t all that difficult to maneuver. So, relax, don’t add an anxious aspect to the process.
Start preparing your business for your break by following these steps:
Survey Your Calendar
Does your business have a busy season? Consider scheduling time off during a season when your business is less busy, however, with fine-tuned planning, a short break during a busy time may be exactly what your mind and body need to rejuvenate.
When do your customers take breaks? When do other entrepreneurs in your industry take breaks? You don’t want to leave your customers hanging in need of your services or products while you are on vacation, and you especially do not want to “force” them into going to your competitors while you are on vacation.
You might have less of a workload in the latter part of December, for example, and this may also be when your customers and other entrepreneurs in your industry take a break, so if you schedule time off during this time you’ll find the freedom to enjoy yourself during your time away.
Prepare Your Employees or Hire Assistance
Who will take charge of your business in your absence? If you are an entrepreneur with one or more employees who will continue operating the business during your break, this is your opportunity to prepare someone for the role of manager. Is your employee capable of making day-to-day decisions? Prioritize which decisions and which part of operations can wait until your return.
Have you written standard operating procedures (SAPs)? Your standard operating procedures can include a simple outline of your day-to-day processes, such as hours of operations, how to answer the phone, how to manage routine customer requests, but SAPs are typically designed to contain instructions for more complex processes. What does an SAP do for you, the entrepreneur looking to take a break from their business? It gives your employees a standardized manual to follow in your absence, which boosts your ability to leave the premises of your business without worry.
What can you delegate out to a temporary or virtual assistant? Delegation may seem like an overwhelming idea when you are a solopreneur with no employees, but by hiring help you can delegate many of your day-to-day processes, especially services that include communication.
Consider hiring a virtual assistant or a service agency to:
- Answer your phone
- Answer your email (Or you can set up an auto-responder to notify your contacts that you have limited access to email for a set time frame.)
- Complete calendar scheduling
Set Schedules (Calendars)
It is important to prepare and let your customers know in advance that you will be absent from your business.
Will your business be “open” while you are absent? If you have coverage, such as a manager or secretary who fields phone calls and emergencies in your absence, you should post (on all your media channels, both online and on-paper) the actual office hours your staff is available during your absence.
Your regular office hours, however, can be listed on your business cards. For example, once you learn how much you benefit from taking a break from your business, you may decide to regularly take Friday afternoons off. Include your available hours on your calendar as well as your business cards and on other materials (such as in your email signature line).
Breaks are pauses in time—lapses in the normal routine. Notice, breaks are not specific to vacations or holidays.
One of the best ways to balance home and work as an entrepreneur is to set boundaries that include regular time away from your business, meaning, evenings and weekends.
When you are away from work, what are your boundaries? Do you handle phone calls, email, or reply on social media outside of your normal hours of operation? Have faith in the fact that personal and set boundaries are important to your mental well-being.
Tip: If you feel it is imperative to check into your business during a break, consider doing so once a day (and no more than that). Schedule your check-in time. This is where the hiring of a virtual assistant or an answering service is priceless. Unless an emergency occurs, you have nothing to worry about.
Talk with Other Entrepreneurs
There are no cookie-cutter business needs or operations, but other entrepreneurs can help by sharing with you how they take a break from their small businesses.
In Central Texas, an opportunity for you to get away and speak with like-minded business owners knocks at your door, Master Networks.
Imagine meeting with a room full of people who are fully committed, as members, to shared relationships and trust. Imagine becoming friends as well as colleagues with people that walk as you do as an entrepreneur in life.
Shared interests lead to the growth of lasting relationships, which can equate to growth for both you and your business, and you’ll find this through Master Networks’ weekly scheduled social and networking events, as well as workshops on a variety of topics of interest once a quarter, leadership training sessions, and an annual conference—an outstanding world-class training event.
Visit more than one Master Networks chapter (we’re at eight and growing) to find a group that is right for you.