One of the greatest joys of owning your own business and working for yourself is the freedom to schedule work around your family, spouse, and life. Or, at least, that’s what we tell ourselves as we file for our Tax ID and begin pouring our energy, effort and time into growing this new project we hope will support us financially.
Ideally, you should be able to schedule a family vacation and enjoy it without working in the hotel while your spouse and kids go have fun without you. And weekends should mean time for hobbies, family and even a spontaneous getaway when needed. So, I’m asking you honestly, can you vacation?
Many small business owners don’t have systems and processes in place to plan their work, set aside personal time as needed, and create vacation time. Nor do they have a process by which to cross train employees to cover for each other and the owner when vacations are taken. Oh, their employees get vacation and sick time, but the owners? Not so much. They end up in the position of the business owning and running them, instead of the other way around.
Project management software, proper use of a calendar and making and keeping a firm set of working hours for everyone on your team can help you control the unruly beast that is a small business. Planning out your workload and knowing your and your team’s limits means that you won’t over-promise, and you can keep the promises you make. That leads to referrals and more work and loyal client relationships.
A training process where your employees are not only well trained for their own jobs, but cross-trained so that they can lighten the load when a colleague is absent, can reduce your stress and allow you to provide consistently excellent customer service. An owner should never be the only substitute for every other employee on the team. And if you’re a solopreneur, it’s wise to prepare for an illness or the unexpected by leaving accessible instructions on what to do if you are unable to work. That way someone you trust can jump in, follow directions, and avert disaster. Even if that simply means contacting clients on a list and informing them of an impending delay.
Of course, you will spend some late nights catching up, or a weekend on a rush job for a valuable client. But that should be the rare exception, not business as usual. Working eighty hour weeks isn’t a good habit. It wears you down, leaving your clients and your family getting less than your best all the time. Working fewer, smarter hours leads to happier clients, an efficient and productive business, and a healthier, happier owner. You need to put systems and processes into place, and place limits on work hours, so you can enjoy the life and the living you’re earning!
Chief Visionary Officer