It’s Hard for Entrepreneurs to Make Time for Themselves

img_0379

It’s been some time since I’ve taken time to sit and write; a clear sign that I am one busy entrepreneur! It happens. We build our business and things grow and soon we forget, or choose not, to make time for ourselves. After all, if you’re not manning the desk, who is?

I’ve experienced this recently. My last blog post was August 30, and there’s a reason for that. I’m busy and business is growing. That’s absolutely wonderful and I enjoy every minute. But if I don’t take time to rest and rejuvenate, how long can I sustain this? It’s a hectic pace, this running your own business, so it’s important to stop every once in a while, do something for yourself that you enjoy and that will restore your energy.

As I’m prone to do, I took my vacation to the extreme. I didn’t take a week off. I didn’t take two weeks off. No, I took three weeks off to go on a European vacation with family. Yes, it was a bit too long, but it allowed me to step away from work, forget my daily routine and obligations, and do something for myself without schedules or commitments.

My work as a coach requires a lot of energy, a lot of helping, a lot of giving, so I do find myself ’empty’ at times, needing to spend some time on myself. It wasn’t easy to step out of my routine. I first made sure all my clients were in good shape for my absence; even made myself available if needed. Now, having just returned home, I find myself eager and ready to continue my work! I feel energized, relaxed, fulfilled in a way that allows me to again give completely to my work.

Being an entrepreneur can drain you and steal every minute of every day, so it’s important to remember to take as good care of YOU as you do your business. Maybe a long 3 week vacation isn’t the answer. Maybe it’s long weekends with family, or even by yourself. But make that effort to plan your time. Only then are you going to be able to maintain the pace and level of commitment that being an entrepreneur requires. And in the end, your business will flourish even more for it.

Nobody Remembers the Guy Who Gave Up

images (17)

I found this photo and posted it online today to both my LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. I love it because it’s so tempting to give up when starting your own business. There tends to be a rush at the start. Nearly every entrepreneur I’ve worked with has that early stage where a few new clients pop up easily. I had the same thing. My very first client was the very company I’d resigned from!

You start on a roll and expect things will continue to “fall in your path” continually. Sadly, that is not typically the case. After that first rush, there is a lull. A scary lull. A lull where you ask yourself, “Will I ever find another new client?” The temptation at that point is to give up, get a ‘real job’ and not worry about it again. But those who succeed, persevere.

How you get through that lull will vary. Some will simply hustle and find the new work. Others might market wildly, drawing in new clients. In my case, I was offered the opportunity to be on contract for a short period of time. This allowed me to learn, A LOT, from experienced colleagues while I built a substantial client referral base. Once the contract was done, I was situated well for building my business. That referral base is still my main pipeline of business.

And, then there are the seasonal slow downs. I had a conversation with a colleague the other day and we were talking about how hard it is when starting out to learn that each business tends to have its high and low seasons. For me, that tends to be late summer and during the holidays. People just want to put aside their work during these periods of time. So, as you learn the seasons, you acclimate yourself accordingly. For me, late summer is the optimal time for vacation. Why try and work during the low time? Take a well needed vacation from your work. You’ll come back renewed and ready to help all those new clients that will be starting up their work again.

There are so many factors playing into the your thoughts of giving up. My best advice is to find a small network of fellow entrepreneurs to bounce ideas off of, hire a coach who’s been there and can guide you, and look at the offerings of your local SBA. Don’t go it alone, but do keep on moving. Don’t give up. The world needs special gift!

What’s Stopping You?

images (14)

I’ve written a lot about the joys of entrepreneurship, and a little about some of the stressors. Something I haven’t yet mentioned is what keeps some people from making the move to running their own business.

In preparation for our upcoming workshop for women thinking about their next career move (Messy In The Middle), my partner Jacquie and I interviewed women on their dreams and what was keeping them from moving ahead. The workshop is for women who are looking at retirement and what that means to them, women who are in the wrong job but not sure what the next step is, and women who would like to start their own business. The #1 response from the overwhelming majority was one word: FEAR.

The fear looks different for each woman. Some fear a loss of status if they retired. For some, the fear is financial. How will they pay their bills as they build a business? For others, it is fear of being too old for the job market. So, they varied, but in each case, it is most decidedly fear keeping them stuck where they are.

I experienced some fear as well. It took some work, but I eventually reached the point where NOT doing anything was far more scary than taking a risk. I got past the fear when I felt I had no choice. Only then was I able to quit my job, sell my house, and move 3000 miles away to return to where I’d come to realize my future would be.

Getting past the fear is not easy. As I see it, you need to reflect on where that fear is coming from and deal with it. What structure can you build to help you move past that fear and start this exciting new chapter in your life? Build a plan that allows you to move forward. Often, this plan is an incremental process. Many entrepreneurs start moonlighting, or have a ‘side-hustle’ as it’s come to be called. You work full-time to keep income coming as you start your business. Then move on to part-time work as the business grows. Eventually, your business becomes a full time gig and you can walk out the door of your last employer and all that means.

So, yes, it’s hard to get past the fear.  But you can do it. You need to figure out where the fear is and how to get past it. And you can! That’s the good news. There are many qualified professionals who can help, so don’t be afraid to seek them out. I recognized I couldn’t get here alone, so I sought out a counselor who I could talk to. She wasn’t a friend, or family, and didn’t have an agenda, so I knew I could count on her assistance. Ultimately, she was the one who made me get to where I needed to be.

So, as with all things in life. The things worth having are worth working for. Face your fear, get past it and do what you need to do to live the life you’re dreaming of. There will never be a ‘perfect time’, so just start. Start today.

 

The Joy of Choosing What You Do

I’ve written before about the freedom of being an entrepreneur. That freedom includes the ability to choose what you do each day in your work. It’s one of the things I love most about being an entrepreneur. My passion is making a difference in other people’s lives; helping them achieve the same personal and professional joy that I have achieved. It’s the message behind my tag line: Dream, Believe, Achieve.

So, when the opportunity to develop a workshop with a dear colleague, former boss actually, arose, I leapt at the opportunity. Together, we’ve been researching, planning, and organizing an event for women struggling to figure out that next career or life step. During my work with women being let go from jobs, it became apparent to me that there were many bright, talented, and skilled women who the corporate world was not so supportive of. Some who worked with me made the choice to go into business for themselves, using their talents as they chose. I realized then, that there was a dearth of resources for these women. This became the kernel that grew into the workshop we’ve created.

During our research, we learned there not only who women who dream of self-employment, but there are women who are looking at retirement, but not really feeling it. Let’s face it, we’re not a generation of people who are going to sit on the front porch knitting ALL DAY. No, most of us want to continue contributing in some way.

Both the person with an interest in entrepreneurship and the person looking to make sense of retirement have the same struggles. How do I get past the fear? Where do I start? What do I do? The workshop we’ve developed helps to get people started on this journey.

We’re so excited to be offering this workshop and can’t wait until we meet these wonderful women face to face!

If you’re interested, feel free to check out more about the workshop by clicking HERE.

Keeping on When You Want to Give Up

14509774584_49b92d6299_zI’ve shared both the good and bad aspects of solopreneurship. For the most part, the good outweighs the bad. Well, it’s been a month since I last wrote, and for good reason. You see, when everything about your business is on your shoulders, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Recently, I’ve been struggling with some health issues that have had me under the weather, not up to my usual energetic level, and falling behind. On the one hand, there is no boss to get mad at me. On the other, if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

I’m happy to say things are getting resolved and I’m returning to my normal level of work – and it feels great! But, as always, there were lessons learned here that I thought I would share for all you budding entrepreneurs out there.

  1. Get help. I’ve decided to outsource my daily accounting work. With an undergraduate degree in accounting, I thought I could manage my own books, but in truth, the reason I left accounting as a profession is that I didn’t enjoy it. So, one task off my plate! Whether I’m well or sick, the work will get done efficiently and effectively.
  2. Take care of yourself. Since you essentially have control over your schedule, make it work for you. I was able to arrange my appointments so that I had time every afternoon to take a well needed nap. My clients still got the help they pay me for and I was able to nap just enough to keep going.
  3. Cut yourself some slack. I’m something of a perfectionist, and doing anything less than my best upsets me. But here I was, unable to sleep nights, tired, running on empty and not thinking as clearly as usual. I had to accept my situation and allow myself to simply do the best I could do.

It’s true. Being an entrepreneur is a double edged sword. And one I live with great appreciation and joy. Would I do anything different? Would I go back to “a regular job” that might make life easier? Absolutely not! This is the life for me. I get to work with wonderful people, changing their lives, and having all the variety this work offers. Yes, I’ll have trying times, but there is always a lesson and I always come out stronger.

Entrepreneurs Prone for Depression?

14509774584_49b92d6299_z

You would think that anyone following their dreams and running their own business would be happy, yes? One of the most common statements I hear from entrepreneurs is how lonely it can be at times. I feel I’m lucky in this regard because my work involves LOTS of interpersonal interaction. And, I’ve got a great support group around me, so I never feel lonely. I do, however, have occasional moments when it all feels too much. I can’t explain it anymore than that. Just an overwhelming jolt of being at a loss. It passes quickly, but I recognize how someone could get wrapped up in this emotion.

I read this article today and thought it was worth sharing since many people out there might benefit from it. If you’re considering entrepreneurship as your next career move, be aware of the struggles that accompany the joy. Knowing they are there and preparing for them, will help you muscle through those bad moments, and keep your dream alive, being grateful for the live you’ve carved out for yourself.

Have a read HERE.

Maintaining Your Balance

15120985374_4993d07cce_z

It’s true, as an entrepreneur, especially one following her passion, I can get all consumed by work. I love coaching others and at times, can’t turn it off. Someone observed recently that I coach even when I’m not ‘on the job’. I’ve managed to find the work that simply IS me, much more than ‘what I do for work’. So, yes, when I’m home in the evenings or on weekends, it’s all too easy to wander into my home office and work on something. It might be something as mundane as accounting, or it could be creating some new materials for an upcoming workshop. The point is, it’s easy to do and I really don’t mind it in the least. However….is that what’s best for me and the people I work with?

Last night, I was at the local Organizational Development Network meeting and this lack of balance hit me right in the face. The facilitator, Chris Richardson, using a methodology called Elemental Insight, walked us through an exercise which brought each of us face to face with our current reality. In the exercise, three people played different roles in our lives: you, your work life and your personal life. In a rather mystical way, the three people, without any knowledge of you or your life, played out their roles, noticing their feelings, and moving around the space following only their feelings. My ‘personal life’ felt constrained and as my ‘work life’ moved around the space, my ‘personal life’ felt compelled to remain behind it. Watching this play out, made it all too apparent to me that in my current mode of operating, I do put my personal life behind my work life. While this wasn’t an Earth-shattering realization, it did bring it front and center.

Now, what do I do with this information? While it’s hard to step away from work, work that is my passion and helps so many others, last night helped me see that I need to make more of an effort to nurture my personal life. Life is short and full of surprises. My work will not suffer if I spend a few less hours on it, particularly on beautiful summer weekends. In fact, taking time off, relaxing and restoring, will likely enhance my work. I’ll return to it on Mondays, renewed, reinvigorated and better rested and able to support my clients.

I’m sure this is a lesson all entrepreneurs can learn. When you find your passion and follow it, you simply don’t have that compulsion to ‘get away from work’. But remember to stop, relax and renew. You’ll be much better prepared and able to pursue your dream. I live on the beach, here in Seattle, and I promise you, on any given sunny weekend day, you’ll now find me out enjoying life, relaxing, breathing in the fresh salt air, and returning to work on Monday with a new energy!

Freedom!

It’s true. Being an entrepreneur involves many long days of work, which I never mind. After all, every single minute of time I spend working is for my business. No longer do I work long days at someone else’s request or to build someone else’s bank account. No, everything I do is done for me and my clients. It’s that simple!

But, along with those long hours comes freedom. Freedom to choose when you work. Take yesterday. It was a gorgeous, 80 degree day here in Seattle. When it’s sunny here, we are all hard-pressed to stay inside. After all, it could be 60 and raining the next day. So, as I sat in my office at home, I decided to make a change of scenery. It was low tide, which always beckons me to take a walk, but I stuck to my guns, and my work. Instead of taking a break from work, I took a break from my office, moving it outside to my front deck where I could enjoy the sun, low tide, and all the marine and human life going on. It was the perfect solution! This is something I never could have done working a ‘regular’ job in an office somewhere.

13331050_10208580415843597_2640142263652205700_n (2)

Then, in late afternoon, having a rare open calendar, I decided it was time for a break, and went kayaking in Elliott Bay. I have to admit, it still feels like I’m playing hookie. It takes time to get used to playing in the afternoon. But, I know I’ll be happy enough to spend an hour on work in the evening, or on weekends. That’s the freedom of self-employment!

13423851_10208583349676941_822149437655301036_n

I got even more decadent and decided to stop in at the restaurant next to the kayak shop for a beer and enjoy the opportunity to spend just a little more time relaxing in the sun. It was fun to watch the water taxi arrive from the city, bringing with it commuters returning home, realizing that I’m one of them many days, but not today.

So, for all the blood, sweat, and tears that you pour into your business, remember to take the time to celebrate what you’ve accomplished. You’ve worked hard to build your business. Stop and smell the roses and bask in your success once in a while.

 

Give Yourself Permission to Ask for Help

APTOPIX Germany Zoo Koala

As a New Englander, I think I’m genetically predisposed to being independent. On top of that, my parents instilled it in me. As a result, I am the ultimate independent woman. Asking for help just isn’t in my DNA. So, when I embarked on this solopreneuer journey, the thought of asking for help never occurred to me. I was fortunate to have some good and trusted friends along with me who were happy to help, but that was the extent of it.

Several years later, I was doing fine with my business, but knew I should accelerate things. I had maxed out the natural skills and knowledge within myself. So, against every fiber of my being, and yet following what I knew to be the best route, I invested in my future by seeking out a coach. After all, I am a coach, and I believe in coaches and their ability to see what we can’t see, ask us the good probing questions, and help us make the progress we so dearly desire.

I interviewed several recommended coaches and their clients, greatly impressed by them all! I ultimately settled on the best one for me at the time. This is an important consideration when hiring someone to work with. All the coaches were skilled and very good at what they do. What it came down to was what each person offered and what I needed at the immediate time. I expect to work with the others later, down the road when I’m at a different point. But for my first foray, for my immediate goals, I selected the coach that I felt would be the best match. It became clear immediately, that I had chosen well! In just the first meeting, my eyes were open to new ways of working, new insights, and new possibilities. I am quickly seeing the impact of teaming with someone else on this journey.

I’m glad I gave myself permission to ask for help. It’s making a world of difference, and honestly, it’s great to have someone along on the ride with me. After all, that’s what I do with my clients. Many are stuck when they come to me. I guide them out of that state, into a new world of opportunities, optimism, hope and yes, results! There is a saying going around these days – Winners have Coaches. Yes, I am a winner and yes, I have a coach! Do you?