One of the things I most often hear from other entrepreneurs (usually small biz owners with 1 employee) is that their boss is too hard on them. Wait what? Aren’t they their own boss? Yes, yes they are.
There’s a fine line between doing it all and still not feeling like you are doing enough. It’s so easy to feel like if we don’t respond immediately, we are letting our clients down. I blame that on the fast-paced world we live in. Everyone expects an immediate response… But do they? Our client’s expectations should be set by us.
It’s no secret that I believe in living a slow-paced, absorbent, intentional life. I tend to attract clients with the same lifestyle goals. These are clients who understand that I don’t answer emails over the weekend because I’m spending time with my family or working a wedding, or sometimes I’m just sitting doing nothing at all because is what I need to be mentally healthy and ready to tackle the next work week.
We are the professionals who know what a reasonable timeline is. We also know what we need in our lives to balance our career and our self-care. That’s going to be different for everyone. It’s up to us to guide our clients through our process. It’s up to us to ensure we are taking care of their needs (that they are paying for) but to at the same time to take care of ourselves.
Here’s why; Burnout.
If we are not establishing routines, boundaries, policies, hours, etc. we will overwork ourselves and burnout. That’s not good for us OR our clients. We need to be in a fit state both mentally and physically in order to serve.
Knowing what is too much, too often, too late, etc comes with experience. I work completely differently from how I first did starting out. It’s about adjusting as you go and finding a groove that serves you both.
Self- Care in entrepreneurship is different than everyday self-care. It should be built into the way you work.
Attract the right clients.
If your branding and messaging are attracting the kind of clients you don’t like working with, you’ll never be happy doing whatever it is that you do. You’ll live your work days stressed out and you’ll end up carrying that stress into the rest of your day. Be very clear about who it is you are, your likes, your dislikes… it’s okay to repel people – this is how you find and attract your tribe.
- So Step 1. Figure out who your ideal client is.
- Step 2. Re-evaluate your brand. Does it attract your ideal client? What could you add or take away from your messaging that would capture the true essence of your favourite clients?
- Step 3. Make the changes. Seriously, even if you only have 1 day a week, start working on your website, your social media profile, start the newsletter, etc. Market your brand in it’s new light.
I mentioned above, I don’t answer emails over the weekend or after I’m done work each day. It’s not a hard rule and if it’s just something quick, I might write back but usually on Monday I’ll apologize for not responding over the weekend but I try to stay out of my office.
Office hours are another way to add boundaries. I’m up at 6. Working by 7am. By 2 pm, I’m done working (on most days). Sometimes I’m even done at 12. I often feel guilty about this because my clients expect me to be in my office until 5pm. But do they actually or do I just think they expect this? I’ve put in my 5-7 hours( and sometimes more depending on if I have a wedding approaching or I’m just really into what I’m doing). I often base my work days on what NEEDS to get done and how I feel. If it’s a day where I just can’t get my brain to be as focused as I want, I’ll end it early and give my body the rest it’s craving.
Because that’s the thing. Entrepreneur or not, we often don’t listen to our bodies. We know when we need a mental health day. I’m so glad people are starting to be able to call in with this reason for not coming into work. We can only serve others if we are taking care of ourselves. How can you do a good job for your boss if you’ve been feeling dragged through the mud for weeks? A day off to just be would probably fix that right?
As entrepreneurs, we need to give ourselves permission to listen to our bodies and obey.
- Step 4. Create and set boundaries based on the life you WANT to live.
Truthfully, I don’t have many policies in place…
I have adjusted the way I work and the way I do things based on a handful of less than desirable clients in the past. Think about your experiences with past clients you’ve had.
- Step 5. Are there any rules you created mentally for yourself that you could turn into business policies which would prevent you from going through the same situation again? Write them down.
Give yourself space to be away from your desk. I know a lot of what we’ve already talked about really has to do with not working ALL the time. Set aside purposeful time to be away from your office. A mid-day walk with your dog? Sitting out in the sunshine for a little break? Calling it a day and heading out to the beach? Give yourself permission to LIVE. Be present. Soak up the goodness that life is throwing in our faces and we often ignore.
Life is much too short to be chained to our desks. Do the work, take a break. Work a little longer the next day. Take a whole day off. Do what it takes to be the best version of yourself so that you can be your best for your clients.
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