Small business owners know as well as anyone that it’s difficult to balance the worlds of work and home life. In fact, stress costs American businesses $300 billion a year according to World Health Organization. Now more than ever, it’s essential that small business owners take the time to maintain work-life harmony.
While most people try to reach a work-life balance, this may be an unrealistic goal. The concept of balance makes most business owners feel like they have to give equal attention to both their business and personal lives. Work-life harmony where you focus on providing care to each as needed versus evenly splitting your time is a healthier approach.
In honor of International Women’s Day today, we asked some successful female entrepreneurs to share their ideas for separating and balancing life, work, and outside factors. Here’s what they had to say about achieving work-life harmony as a small business owner:
- Define what work-life harmony means to you
Your needs as an individual and business owner are unique. While it’s great to draw inspiration from other successful entrepreneurs, it’s important to identify what’s important to you and your business.
For Sophia Lemon, owner of Photography for Ridiculously Happy People, it’s all about “balancing [my] business, family and friend time, health and wellbeing, and alone time. When these things are at balance then you’ll find me kicking butt in life and business.”
- Establish clear and realistic boundaries, and stick to them
One of the most challenging things to do as a small business owner is to clock out when the time comes. The demands of running a successful business will fluctuate at different points, which is why you need to set clear boundaries early on. Many business owners fall into the trap of working around the clock, which can lead to sleep deprivation and general exhaustion.
It’s important to not only set clear boundaries for yourself but to stick to them. It’s tempting to want to do everything, which also leads to feeling overwhelmed as a small business owner. For Lisa Schulte, owner of Quarks American Bento, while running her business, “a routine develops and it starts to feel more natural to hustle every second that you get.”
- Set distinct work hours, and adhere to them to them as much as possible. This means managing client expectations about when you’re available to them.
- Have separation between your workspace and your personal space. Whether it’s a room inside your home, your own office, or even a coworking space, it’s important to have clear boundaries.
- Focus your attention on the task at hand—whether it’s work or your personal life. It’s easy to get distracted even when you’re spending time with family as a small business owner. Being present in your business and your personal life will help you create a much more sustainable work-life harmony.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
“The advice that I always give is to find a mentor,” says Schulte. “Someone who can guide you and share examples of things they learned.” You can start by reaching out to the local partners who work with the Small Business Administration, including SCORE, Women’s Business Centers, and SBA Regional Offices.
In your personal life, having a reliable support system can be crucial, especially when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed with your business. Even something as simple as asking a friend to meet you for coffee can have a significant impact on your mood and motivation.
Achieving work-life harmony can feel impossible, but with the right attitude, boundaries, and flexibility, small business owners can find the perfect rhythm that makes sense for them.