Over the past few decades, it has become increasingly difficult to end up on the “traditional career path” many of us grew up expecting to follow. As a result, more and more people are foraying into the world of start-ups, self-employment, and entrepreneurship. Instead of searching for the perfect job or career, people are taking the future into their own hands and creating their own jobs.
While running your own business and doing something you love may seem like “the life,” it is not all fun and games. Being a business owner takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifices, and deciding to start your own company is not something you should take lightly. Approximately 30% of small businesses fold within the first two years. And every small business owner I talked to said it can take a huge toll on both your mental and physical health.
So where do you find the balance, and how do you maximize your chances of business success without sacrificing your own health and well-being in the process? Unfortunately, there is no easy solution. If there was, everyone would already be doing it. However, there are certain steps you can take to put the odds in your favor.
1. Write Your Processes Down
Small companies can often operate without official, written processes in place. So long as the required works gets done and everyone is on the same page (more or less), there doesn’t need to be something more official in place. When a company consists of just a few people, it is easy to touch base regularly and adapt as necessary. But if you plan to expand — hire more employees, open another location — it will become increasingly difficult to maintain the same level of communication, consistency, and quality without a system.
Rather than wait for this to become an issue, make an effort to write down your process(es) for day-to-day tasks (and bigger ones, too). It is a good idea to have your employees do the same, and then when you do bring on new team members, you will already have a list of processes written down. The processes will likely need to be adjusted over time — what works on a small scale may not translate to a bigger company – but at the very least, you will have something to go off.
Initially, this strategy will be more time consuming because you have to stop and record the processes for completing various tasks. But in the long run, it will save you time, and time is a precious commodity for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
2. Hire a Team You Trust and Invest in Their Training
If you are putting your own time, money, and effort into starting a business, odds are it is something you care a lot about. So, when looking for people to join your team, make it a priority to find those who demonstrate a good work ethic, whose values align with your business, and whom you believe will bring value to the company.
Keep in mind that although education, experience, and qualifications are important, they are not always the best indicator of a good fit. Someone who shares your passion but lacks experience may be a greater asset in the long run if you give him or her a chance and the proper training time.
3. Learn to Delegate and/or Outsource
This is probably one of the hardest but also one of the most important things to learn as a small business owner. If you try to do everything yourself, it will catch up to you as the business grows and the demands of day-to-day tasks increase. Letting go of the reins can be scary, especially as this company is your baby and your brainchild, but you will be better off (and better able to take care of the business) if you aren’t burning the candle at both ends.
Remember the part where we talked about hiring a team you trust and investing in their training? This is where it pays off, because while delegating tasks can take a lot off your plate, it can actually be bad for your health if it results in you constantly worrying and second-guessing the decisions of your team. Make sure you get people on board you can trust with the tasks.
Tip: In addition to delegating responsibilities, another way to ease your workload is to outsource some of the day-to-day duties that don’t require an in-depth understanding of the company.
4. Schedule Time Away from Your Business
Owning and running a business is a big commitment, and if you want to be successful, chances are you will put in long hours. While it is important to “do what needs to be done” for your business, it is also important to set aside time for yourself to do something completely unrelated to work — an hour or two at the gym a few days a week, one day a week out of the office, or reading for pleasure.
What you do is up to you, but whatever you choose, it should be something you enjoy. Something that will make you get out of the office and/or take your mind off work completely (even if it is just for an hour or two). Taking time that could be spent working and “wasting” it doing something else can seem counter-intuitive. You’ll find yourself thinking, “I could be getting stuff done!” But, in the long run, taking time out will make you a better business owner because the more balanced you are, the happier and more productive you will be at work.
A Healthy Business Comes From a Healthy Life
We live in a society where more is often considered better. Combine that with the fact your company is your baby, and it can be hard to let go of the reins and take a step back. However, if you want to be successful in the long run without sacrificing your health and sanity, stepping back is something you need to do. It won’t be easy, especially at first, but both you and your company will be better for it in the long run.