For many of us who are in business for ourselves, there comes a moment when we realize that we traded in our old bosses (pre-entrepreneurship) for newer, tougher bosses: ourselves. And at some point along the way it became okay and acceptable for said new boss to work us to the bone or stop encouraging us and complimenting us on all we do to keep our small biz boat afloat. Some of us even began to forget about what the flexible, healthy and happy work environment we wanted - that was part of the reason we became our own bosses – even looks like!
But the thing is, good bosses and leaders are good to their team, which inspires the creation of great work and causes employees to show up happy and ready to be productive. For many of you, you are the boss and the employee in this situation, and it’s time you ensure you’re being the best boss to yourself you can be – your success depends on it!
To be sure you actually want to show up physically and mentally to the job that you created for yourself, be sure you’re checking off these things on your list every day:
Treat Yourself Better than you Treat Everyone Else: Be nicer – if not nicest – to yourself. We focus so much on being good to and praising others around us in business that we forget to do the same to ourselves. When was the last time you patted yourself on the back for all you’re doing, celebrated your talent at wearing may hats and juggling multiple roles as an entrepreneur? Does your self-talk tend to be a negative or positive conversation? Create a company culture that celebrates hard work and jobs well done, and remember to include yourself in those celebrations. A positive company culture and experience starts with one you're having with yourself.
Down with the “Badge of Overworking”! If small businesses gave out badges like Girl Scouts do, I’m betting a lot of you would be up for the “Badge for Overworking” and that’s not something to be proud of. Too many of us begin to hold overworking, sitting in front of our computers non-stop, and lack of sleep (due to late night cramming sessions) in way too high regard. We even begin to praise and encourage others in our business or industry who do the same. Working more is not equitable to working better. Often productivity and quality of work slips when you’ve been at it too long. In fact, I believe an entrepreneur who can’t find time for balance, flexibility and down time in their schedule is an entrepreneur who needs to reevaluate how they’re working. Sure, sometimes late nights and early mornings are the only way to get things done, but this should be an exception not the norm.
Realize Inspiration & Clarity are Rarely Found at Your Desk, Get Away From it More Often: Enjoy life more. Get out into nature, into a museum, in front of live music, or anywhere else that you personally find inspirational. Very few great works of art, pieces of music, innovations, inventions or businesses were conceptualized while sitting at a chair staring at an electronic screen. Sure, growing them requires logging hours and days sitting in said chair, but to really get your creative juices flowing, peel yourself away from all of your electronic appliances. Let your brain roam free. Sometimes we find ourselves so deeply involved in running our own business that it’s hard to give ourselves permission to enjoy or do anything but the business. But the irony here is that getting away from your desk and business will allow you to produce even better ideas, to find solutions to problems that have been holding you back, and to hit the “refresh” button on not just our Twitter streams but on yourself.
Go with the Flow: Flexibility in life and as a business owner is one of the keys to both sanity and success. Here’s a spoiler alert about both: they won’t always go your way. Schedules will change. Plans will fall through. Your family will need you. Kids will get sick. You will realize it’s still impossible to clone yourself. Interns/employees/babysitters/dog-walkers and other members of your team will drop the ball or quit (at the most inopportune moments) all together. None of those things are in your control, and no matter how hard you try to prevent them, those things will happen. So stop trying to prevent them and to predict them. Instead, be prepared for them, and be calm and flexible when they do happen. This is good for your health and the health of your business. As someone who has struggled to just “let it go and let it be” when things don’t go my way, I’ve learned that at the end of the day, there’s no secret or higher level strategy to doing this. You simply get to a point where you decide, “there’s just not real estate in my brain for stressing and freaking out about this. I’m just going to put one foot in front of the other and find the best solution for the current situation.” Or, you learn to think as my mother does who believes that no matter how bad things may seem, “Unless it’s fatal it’s no big deal.” Learning to go with the flow isn’t something you can learn in a day, but it’s something you can practice getting better at every day. I encourage you to do this. Things will happen, good and bad, throughout the course of your life as a small biz owner. You can’t control them, but if you can control how you react to them and just go with the flow, not fighting or resisting it but moving along with it – it’s not just the path of least resistance it’s the path of no resistance.
How do you treat yourself well as a business owner? Share your strategies below!