As I sit down to write this post at an hour way past when I’d like to stop working, I found it very fitting to talk about balancing a small business with a 9-5.
Most likely, if you are in the beginning stages of building your own business, you are still working your day job. Now that may mean a number of things – an office for some, a house full of children for another, but bottom line…you’re daytime hours are pretty much spoken for. Last year when I started my design business, I was lucky enough to be working a few part time jobs that allowed me a lot of flexibility during my day to work my business. In this season we’re currently in, I am working almost full-time elsewhere so we are able to put away some money for the season I’ll be home with this little human we’re about to meet. (eeeek! baby!) So needless to say, I find myself sending design business emails after 11:30 pm and, well, that’s just rude.
For the season of working a 9-5 while growing your business, here are some (hopefully) helpful thoughts:
1. PLAN YOUR WEEK – I can’t tell you how much more productive I am when I make a list of projects I’d like to work on for my business and things I want to get off my plate. It really is amazing. Usually, I’ll sit down Sunday night and do that, update my finances, and make reminders for emails I need to return. When you have a limited amount of time, you need to use it well.
2. ASK FOR HELP – When there’s dinner to make, laundry to get done, and that one thing you’ve needed to pick up from Target for the past two weeks, it’s obvious that you need people on your team. Ask your spouse or roommate or whoever to maybe take on some of those duties while you’re using your evening time to work on your business. For a season, that may just be how it is and it’s so valuable to find people to support you in that and want to help.
3. SET LIMITS FOR YOURSELF – In the world of running your own business, the to-do list never goes away. There is always one more thing you could get done and one more email you could send. If you don’t set boundaries for yourself, you’ll burn out super fast. Make peace with the running list, shut the computer, put your phone down, and take time to rest. Believe it or not, you’ll actually become more productive in your business if you take intentional time away from it.
4. COMMUNICATE – If you are unavailable for the majority of a traditional workday, make sure you communicate that with your clients and customers. Let them know that you generally are unable to respond during the day, but you are available after hours to talk over the phone or respond by email. If you’re making a product, let your buyers know that you ship on one particular day of the week or only answer Etsy messages at a specific time. Generally, people are way more gracious and willing to work with you when they know your availability and feel like you care enough to communicate often with them.
Overall, hang in there! There may come a day in the near future that you will be able to run your business as full capacity without having to work another job. Until that day comes, embrace the season and find ways that work for you to keep things running on track. Remember, you are only one human and you are in a business that serves other humans. Everyone is limited and all you can do is the best you can with the time you have. Thankfulness does the heart good!