If you own your own business you almost certainly are doing something you love (and, if you’re not, maybe it’s time to sell the business and do something else). The challenge for most business owners is that they end up working long hours and the business pushes the other things in your life into second place.
Even if your family are 100% behind you, eventually they’ll get fed up with sharing you with the business, especially if their ‘share’ is tiny.
If you’re a sole trader or an independent consultant, it’s easy to find the hours flash past and it’s got dark and you’re still slaving over a hot computer. If you work from home it’s even more of a challenge as it’s all too easy to ‘just’ do a bit more on that presentation, course, proposal, client report – etc. etc. When you emerge from wherever your work area is – are you surprised to find everyone has gone to bed?
I’ve been there and made the mistakes. I worked in a converted garage and it was easy to pop into the house, cook dinner and pop back into the office to finish writing a training programme. By the time I’d finished the kids were in bed and I was too tired to be good company.
My solution at that point was to move the office to somewhere about 8 miles away, so I couldn’t ‘pop back into the office’ after dinner, unless there was a really, really good reason. I also had other people working with me so it was easier to go home around the same time as the others.
Then I moved and was back working in the spare bedroom. I knew that there was a danger of spending all my time in the ‘office’ again so I made a rule that I would quit work at 5.30pm and close the ‘office’ door behind me.
That worked well and, although I’ve since worked in external offices, I’m back working from home and I pretty much finish work at somewhere between 5-6pm. Actually, these days I only work about three hours a day – and only do the things I really love to do and do well – everything else is outsourced.
And there lies another challenger for the solo-preneur; doing everything yourself.
Yes, in the early days of growing a business it’s going to cost less to do it yourself, but you will have to be prepared to do the things that you don’t enjoy and also to apply skills that aren’t in your current portfolio. I’m a writer, I don’t do numbers – but to start with I had to keep track of my income and expenditure on a spreadsheet, even though I had an accountant to do the final accounts.
As your business develops there’s a danger that you’ll keep saying ‘but I can do that myself, why pay someone else?’ The answer is that if you don’t enjoy doing it, it’s probably going to keep getting pushed to the bottom of your to do list – and it’s probably going to take you much longer than it would to outsource it to an expert. If you earn £100 an hour and your accountant charges £100 an hour, for example. You could earn upwards of £200 (in my case much more) in the time it takes to struggle through the accounts. But your accountant will do what’s required in half the time and cost much less.
You can outsource telephone answering, administration, posting social media, writing content for marketing, accounts, filing, following up proposals, customer liaison (at least some of it) and more. This leaves you free to do what you love and give your clients exceptional service.
Time to make some rules – and work to rule. You’ll find life gets a lot easier and your business grows faster.