The fear factor
Whether you’re already working in retail, in the digital domain or have a really great idea for a web business, the thing that’s likely holding you back is fear and guilt. Fear of failure or not succeeding. And guilt that, if you do, it’ll be at a cost to your nearest and dearest.
Most start-ups fail because they give up. Not because they run out of money or time. To survive and thrive you need personal staying power. That doesn’t mean giving up your life while you get established. It means giving it as much energy and commitment as your new venture.
Katie Raquel, founder of Katie’s Coldpress, says, “One fear was that I’d invest loads of time in something away from my daughter, and then not see it pay off. How to balance work and family is such a personal decision for every entrepreneur, and hats off to anyone that figures out what works for them. For me, it’s running the business mostly from home on my computer and phone so I can be with my kids during the week.”
Managing start-up stress
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to stop work from eroding your personal life, you can minimize fallout by following some simple steps at the outset. Here are our top tips for staying sane and keeping your home life healthy:
Get a routine
Make a to-do list of everything that needs to be done to run your business. Then divide this into daily, weekly, monthly and annual activities. Use IT tools to help you keep track of these and automate wherever you can. “I put as many automated systems in place as possible so I can focus on the exciting stuff during biz hours,” says Wendy Woods, The Refinery. “When I feel like I’ve been productive on good stuff during the workday I find I can give family my attention at night.”
Optimize home time
Apply the same philosophy to your home schedule. Plan in advance, batch cook, group-socialize. And rather than cutting back on domestic help, now may be the time to invest in cleaners, laundry services, dog-walkers, child-sitters, etc. They may eat into your disposable income but they will free your time, which helps you make much better business decisions.
Monitor mental health
Nearly three-quarters of business owners have concerns about their mental health. And almost half have struggled with depression or anxiety. When dealing with these types of issues, it’s vital you know when to ask for help. Always talk to family and friends and be ready to share how you feel about the downs as well as the ups.
If you’re working from home, set clear boundaries and have a designated workspace. Make sure those you live with have clear rules as to when they can, and can’t, disturb you. Create finish times and try to stick to them. Take time out alone before heading straight into family/household hustle to help you transition and de-stress first.
Keep ‘YOU’ separate
Always keep some space between you and your work. One doesn’t define the other. Shoptiques founder Olga Vidisheva learned from experience that identifying herself with her company led to stress and lack of confidence. Over time she’s learned to think of her company as something outside herself, so the success or failure of it doesn’t directly impact her self-esteem and confidence. She says this has helped her to sleep soundly even when things aren’t going well, rather than being overly stressed out by seeing her company’s struggles as a reflection of herself.
Ride-out bad days
Starting up can be like riding a rollercoaster – the ups are exhilarating but the downs are really scary. When you’re in a dip or tight spot, try to avoid making hasty decisions. Someone who appreciates this is Jo Malone, the woman behind the luxury beauty brand, who started her business from her kitchen sink. She stresses the importance of never giving up, “Don’t quit on a bad day! Often people quit on a bad day then the light comes in and suddenly the landscape changes and you will have made a very different call.”
Appreciate little things
Don’t set unattainable goals. Whether sourcing new stock, setting up your store or trying new ideas for sales acquisition, break milestones into small wins that are realistic. Make sure you measure progress and celebrate your achievements as you go – no matter how small they seem.
Don’t let finances get you down
Financial stress is one of the biggest fear-factors of any web-founder and the one that can impact family the most, particularly if savings and property are invested. Always know how much cash you’ve got to run your business, what your burn rate is and how you can secure additional funds before you run out.
Take easy routes
It’s your business but don’t do everything yourself. Outsource where possible, particularly with basics like IT and web design. Grab any free consultancy services or value adds partners offer and get technical support built into your contract. If you’re using a platform like Magento 2 or Shopify you can benefit from all sorts of plug-in tools, including Klarna payments, to make your e-commerce even easier.
Above all stay positive and go for it! Being an entrepreneur is hard work but it’s also hugely rewarding, with lots of freedom to control your own destiny. No surprise that 52% of women and 46% of men dream of becoming their own boss at some point. With the right mindset, and a healthy work/life approach, there’s no reason why you can’t live the dream too!