What do you do to stay sane when running a small business?
Hi there, I am putting together some advice for people running a small business, making suggestions on what they can do to 'stay sane'. I'd be interested in your viewpoints. I've thought of a few things myself, namely:
* Create clear boundaries (Family / Business, Pleasure/Work, Yr own office etc)
* Create a weekly and daily routine (Days of week to do stuff)
* Don’t obsess about stats, analytics, hit counts etc.
* Don’t get lost in all of the advice available, trust your instincts
* Get away from the computer and the business, exercise and look after yourself
* Write things down so you don't forget them
* Cultivate other interests outside the business, nourish your mind
* Remember why you are doing this in the first place (freedom, wealth etc.)
* Do one thing every day to move your business forward in a small way
Does anyone have any other good ones to add please?
Please note that I have now created the first of several guides based on this information: http://www.businessbulletpoints.com/stay-sane-reduce-stress-small-business-boundaries/
- Don't forget family time, and time with friends
- Spend some quiet time alone: walk in the park, fishing, jogging, reading, etc.
- Volunteer your time, at least 1 hour per week, for any good cause in which you believe
- Unplug at least 8 hours per week: no phone, TV, internet, technology ...
- Don't worry about failure
- Keep thinking; if the business fails, it's not the end ... have a back up plan
- Be nice to your customers
- Fire bad customers
good luck :)
I fully agree with all the points. Startup companies are often advised to focus on one great thing rather than 5 good things. However, we work on several things and we are 5 years into the business. We are just about realizing the one underlying theme (our great thing) that binds all things we do.
Wow there s a lot of wisdom out there but here are a few tidbits:
1) Remember it is a marathon not a sprint. You came up with an idea or a concept and it will take time to get the right recipe for success. As a famous artist friend of mine reminded me "It only took me 20 years to become an overnight success"
2) Plan your work and work your plan. This may seem rudimentary but much of the advice is to sell, sell, sell. However there are times when you have to plan, build and prepare before you can sell. Again, this is about balance in the plan. Identify the high value tasks that bring high long term value and execute them.
3) Find a group of like minded people you can physically meetup with. It helps to bounce ideas off others once in a while and while it may not generate cash, it does help clear the mind for the next presentation.
4) Use mental floss. Veg out from time to time in what ever your way is. A refreshed mind is a more productive mind and you will make more sales, be more creative in the development of collateral material and may just find the answer to the problem you have been working for the past two months.
It's all about balance - personal and professional. You must make time for both and schedule it!!!
Also, too many small business owners over time lose touch with why they started their business in the first place. It almost never is just to make money. Money is the means to some other end. When you lose sight of the END you lose your passion and often yourself in the process.
Create business/personal metrics for tracking actual activity against your goals. All successful people track activity. I think this is critical to business success. Leverage your calendar to have all your high payoff activities on it and then follow your calendar. These 2 items work in harmony together to help you stay focused and achieve y our goals, in my opinion.
Just make sure you always have money coming in. Then adjust your business according to your markets demand, i.e. you clients paying you. Everything else is secondary, without money it's just work.
1. Be sure to have processes & procedures in place before signing the first client or you will never have enough time to set things up correctly.
2. Outsource the tasks that you are not an expert in to a Virtual Assistant. They can save you time by doing Internet research, bookkeeping set up, social media profiles and more.
3. Install Evernote on every device you own. This way, instead of writing thoughts and ideas on scraps of paper that you will lose, you can enter them into Evernote and they will be at your fingertips, no matter what device you are working with.
Thanks everyone for the superb responses, there are some really great and valuable suggestions here. I'll be fashioning some of this advice into a blog article oevr the next few days and also creating a resource guide that I'll post here. I'll include links when everything is up and running :)
My viewpoints are:
1. Do what inspires you
2. Reward yourself for your successes
3. Calculate your price so that there is money for a vacation
4. If you do not enjoy your work stop using it immediately
Have a clear sense of what "good business" is and "bad business" is, no matter how big the paycheck is. Walk away from projects that are inconsistent with your brand or simply too tedious or trying to want to do. You'll make more money if you save your time for the things you are good at and you enjoy. Much more likely to get referrals.
Wow, all those great answers, I still have a lot to learn and implement.
I just started out my very small business 12 months ago and work as a Virtual Office Manager for small business owners. I work from home, have two little kids and a household to manage. Many times I felt completely overwhelmed and wasn't sure if I could keep my sanity. What I had to learn was...
Ask for help, don't try to do it all alone. There is always somewhere somebody who can help you with what you need. You just need to be willing to ask for it and to accept the help you receive.
Two things i would add are:
1. Take time to reflect on what you have achieved - I was recently "forced" into this when putting in an entry for a business award and it was great to see just how much i had achieved in 3 years - 35% year on year growth, over 300 clients helped etc certainly makes it feel worthwhile
2. Keep doing your hobbies - It's all too easy to "stay in the office", but the reality is that there are very very few jobs which can't wait until tomorrow
The Serenity prayer, over and over, and over again!
lol.....Aslo, for me, i try to reflect on WHY i started my business in the first place! It wasn't to get rich quick, it was because i was following my passion. Keeping this in mind always helps me through those rough spots!
Make sure it's something you really love doing so it doesn't seem like work.
Go for a walk, and do something other than focusing on your business. You'll be surprised how easily ideas come to you, without inhibition.
Lot's of great tips here already. Allow me to toss 3 more pieces of wood on the fire:
1) Keep things as small as possible. For example, if you're building an online service, determine what the minimum set of requirements you can get away with deploying, and then just do those really well. You will surely drive yourself crazy if you try to play keep up with bigger competitors.
2) Cash is king. Cash is king. Cash is king. Always be looking to cut costs and increase revenue. More cash == less stress == more sanity.
3) Find the biggest, nicest, heaviest rock glass you have in the house. Something you could use to knock out an intruder, and preferably of Irish crystal. Fill with ice, and squeeze in some fresh lime juice. Fill half way with a freshly opened bottle of tonic water. Add at least one full measure of good gin. Top off with tonic water to taste, and throw in a nice chunky piece of fresh lime. Stir. Repeat step 3 as often as required to restore sanity.
All great suggestions. But whatever it is you do, KEEP IT SIMPLE! A lot of people try to change things too quickly - like jumping head first into a new exercise routine that goes from zero to five days a week. Bad idea. Take baby steps. Set clear goals and then work backwards to incrementally work toward them.
For exercise, I'll stop and do some push-ups or pull ups in the middle of the day. This works much better for me than a cup of coffee to wake me up and keep me energized and motivated. And it's easier than going to the gym. If you need some ideas for easy exercise, I would recommend checking out something like FitDeck - a simple deck of cards with exercises on them.
I think you need to have something of interest OUTSIDE the business. This gives you an escape when you need it and can help clear your mind getting you ready for that next big idea.
Paul, You are minimizing the opportunity by focusing on "staying sane". You can ask "how does one survive" or "how to meet the minimum expectations".
It is much like the staff who answered my question: "How did the customer feel?" with "They didn't complain." We hope to achieve more than "keep them from complaining." :)
If on the other hand you are talking about coping with the stresses of owning a small business: Vision. Waking up in the morning with a vision keeps one not only able to cope but actually thrive when things are bumpy.