19 June 2017

Staying Sane Whilst Growing A Business

how to start your own business, tips on running your own business, Hampshire lifestyle blog

I'm 8 months in to managing my own business and I'll tell you once thing - it's the wildest roller coaster you will ever get on in your life. Being freelance has brought the highest of highs and occasionally the lowest of the lows - eventually balancing itself out. With such emotional hurricanes it can be difficult to keep your feet on the ground, and stay sane in the process.

There are different stresses that come from working or yourself - the fact is you're the boss, and your actions, decisions, and attitude is what keeps the business afloat. When you're working for someone, you effectively stress out about their decisions and rules, or at least I did. For example I hated how even though my hours were 9-5, I still had no control over when I could leave. I remember when I took half a day off as holiday because I had an important family get together to go to, my boss made me sit at my desk and work for an extra 3 hours. Not only did that mean that I technically only got 1 hour off instead of 4, I also stressed loads and missed the family event. Thanks boss!

Of course now I have full control over my hours - but don't think it's all stress free. Yes I can choose to have a day out in the middle of the week to enjoy a sunny day or a special occasion, but I have to then make up those hours which go into client projects usually in the evenings/night time or at the weekend. And it's pretty safe to say that by 1am when I'm editing photos or a video, it can get pretty stressful.

Or on the other hand, the slump you get into when work goes quiet. It's very rare that you have balanced weeks in freelancing - it's usually either a week of working from dusk until dawn, or dead silence. With a schedule this hectic and unpredictable, you need to make sure you're getting enough rest, and keeping motivated.

Then there's financial stresses - unlike working for someone, you don't have secure income and no 'pay day'. Trust me, even if you plan to invoice your clients so you have an actual pay day, it's more like one whole month later that you'll receive payments from 50% of the brands you're working with! So you need to plan ahead, constantly scout new opportunities, approach companies, go to networking events - all to make sure you have rent and bills money. For me perhaps this has been the biggest worry because I have a house to pay for, bills, pets, a car, and of course you want some disposable income to do some pleasurable things too. I'll also let you in on a secret - I've had clients before who think I do this as a part time job for fun, live with my parents, and someone even went as far as asking if I was in college. Baby face problems - because I'm a young looking girl, apparently it's OK to think I'm a little princess who runs around playing 'business woman' in her spare time. Be prepared for that if you're a twenty-something woman who doesn't have kids, the undermining comments are never ending.

And of course apart from worrying about your own business and what you're going to do next, there's the stress of something going wrong with your service or client accounts. You have to be prepared to fight your cornet, or accept that you've made a mistake - regardless, you'll have to answer for your actions on your own, there's no boss to do that for you.

So with all that in mind (and that's just a gentle dip into freelancing!), it's easy to get stressed and dig yourself an emotional hole to climb into. And trust me, I did just that a couple of weeks ago. I stressed myself out to a point where I've had to take a couple of days off as a 'sanity break' and remove myself from work, social media, and most people around me. I know I'm not the only freelancer who feels like this, so here are a few tips which have been tried and tested to keep you sane whilst growing your business:

1. Make a schedule for yourself. The same way as you would work an 8 hour day, then go home and rest (or blog!) - you need to have a limit as to how much you can work in one day. Slot your client projects and your own promotion into an 8 hour day - and remember to take a lunch break. That's not to say you have to work 9-5, if it suits you better work 12-8 or 6-2pm - the beauty is you choose your hours. But remember that cramming everything into one day and overworking yourself is a sure way to burnout city.

2. Take a break. Learn how to take a time out from work - especially if you're business is mainly digital. Have a day or a couple of days off to focus on yourself, do things you love, live in the moment, and DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR EMAILS! If something is dead urgent, people will call/text.

3. Invest in essential oils that help you de-stress - Bergamot oil is a winner in my mind, it's the perfect relaxer to burn around the home office, add to a warm bath, and even to the tips of your hair after washing!

4. Talk about your stresses with friends and family - don't keep your frustrations in because it's just going to come out in one big outburst. It especially helps if you have a freelance friend who knows how stressful it can get sometimes - and you can bounce ideas off each other and help each other through the rough times.

5. Remember that everything is a learning curve. No one who starts their own business is 100% sure of how to run a business. You may be the perfect hairdresser setting up on your own, but do you know how to market that business? No? You're going to make mistakes. You may be the most incredible cook who started their own catering company - but are you a mathematical whizz who can do accounts? No? You're going to slip up eventually. So don't kick yourself when you make a mistake - instead learn from it.

Perhaps the last point is the most important tip in keeping your sanity whilst starting your own business - especially for perfectionists. I took everything so personally and any mistake I made was like the end of the world. And kicking yourself like that is a short road to getting yourself stressed out about everything! Embrace the mistakes - we're only human!

Do you ever feel like running your own business is driving you a little insane? What do you do when you feel like that? Comment below!
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