SETTING UP A BUSINESS,
WEAVING THROUGH THE LIFE/BUSINESS MAZE
….. OR QUITE SIMPLE
A JUGGLER EXTRAORDINAIRE
This month’s blog comes from a personal perspective, and I thought (& hoping) some of you may like to know how I have juggled setting up (& running) a small business whilst being a wife, and mum to three children.
If you are pregnant, or have small children and you may be reading this feeling overwhelmed how little time you may have, I want to let you know I have been there. I can honestly tell you when my three children were younger there was no time nor space for me to think clearly. I didn’t feel like I was coping or doing well, and I certainly couldn’t have even considered starting up a small business during that phase of my life. A big hats off to all the women who do. I remember moments of tears at feeling overwhelmed with it all, and feeling lost because I felt like I wasn’t a good enough mum, all through blurry eyes and foggy head from lack of sleep. I now apologise to anyone I had conversations with during those years, because I honestly felt like I couldn’t even hold a conversation I was so drained. SO A HUGE HUG AND PAT ON THE BACK TO YOU FOR BEING A MUM.
Having the vision ....
Fast forward 6 years from that point and now my children are settled at school and it’s time to reflect on how I have completed diploma upgrade and setup a business whilst juggling three children, and for most part of the setup a husband who travelled interstate for work.
Let’s just give you some background information on me ---- I am a typical type A personality, a perfectionist who does not like to feel like I have ‘failed’ at something. Failure, and what I perceive as myself failing should be on my blog list for another time – I could write a book on that!! I have pushed myself to burn out a number of times in my life, because I am driven, and once I have a goal I am like a stalking lion where nothing will get in my way to achieve that goal. I have felt frustrated because I want to achieve it all yesterday. The problem with that approach is called ‘life’ – life throws us curve balls, especially when we have children. If your life is so finely balanced on achieving everything, how do you cope when a little thing pops up, like a child being home from school sick and your whole day has to be reset again?? Believe me, I am still a student to this lesson, but it is getting better.
So, the past few years I have really focussed on a mental shift, and to be honest it’s still a work in progress. My dear husband gave me some very sound advice when my ‘stalking lion’ roared again last year, and I was feeling internal pressure to succeed but not feeling like I was succeeding. ‘Just let it evolve’ he said. That was like a light bulb moment for me. How many times have you searched for something when you ‘need’ it but never find it. Yet when your’ not searching for it, it just happens or pops up. So, although I am working hard to succeed in my business and I am trying to make a presence, I am also trying to let connections happen and things to evolve as they need. I have learnt things do happen for a reason, sometimes it feels like it’s not great at the time, but once it is over and I sit back and realise I learnt something from that, I have to say thanks.
I learnt a lot studying to complete the upgrade of my remedial massage diploma. It taught me what I could put on my plate and what I needed to take off my plate, it also was great confirmation that I was making a career in something I was passionate about.
My business vision has been inside me for about 10 years, and although the business is very much in the early stages the vision is stronger. When I finished the second Diploma, I had the time to start building on that vision and create my business. My accounting/business hat came back on, driven by my new thought process to ‘not overload’ my plate. I started with a vision, a business plan and a big to-do list and started ticking them off. The vision was not just words on paper, it was knowing and feeling what I wanted my business to look and feel like. I invested time and energy into my business name, logo, colours and branding as I needed it to convey my passion and vision. I also knew in order for me to feel less stressed with my massage business I needed to set everything up right the first time and have a defined order of process to get things done. Massage is my passion, but didn’t want to get bogged down and stressed with the administration side of things. Early on (& I’m still early on) I invested a lot of my time and energy into my ‘background’ processes. My automated system link from front office to back office (i.e my booking system to my accounting system), including HICAPS, and ensuring my website feeds into this loop.
I found some great experienced people who have helped me with the side of things I couldn’t do or didn’t have the strengths in, like my business coach, website, SEO, communications/content writing, marketing etc. Some of these came about because of random conversations with people and they offering to help, other connections because I was searching for help with skills I didn’t have or didn’t know I needed until I started another stage of work.
It felt like weeks and months of hard work, but now I have systems in place that automate a lot and as business grows I am only needing to do minimal admin work which is great. It means my short space of available business development time during the week can be focussed on activities that will drive my business forward, and not get bogged down with paperwork. Don’t get me wrong there is still a lot of behind the scenes work to do, and it’s mostly me updating my website or creating images for campaigns, creating marketing material, networking with local professionals, social media etc. My to do list is still long, but manageable ‘most’ of the time.
I have also come to realise there will be very busy weeks, which may to some extent feel a little out of balance. Some things on the to do list take longer than I think, but that’s because I am learning something new each time and that’s enjoyable. I will have quieter weeks where I can catch up on ticking things off my list.
Balancing and Juggling
How do we manage family balance? We don’t have family close by we can call on for babysitting or last minute things that pop up. I utilise after school care, babysitter for my night-time work and keeping my business hours to what is manageable in my life. The massaging side of the business is open two days outside school hours, plus two available days within school hour times at the moment, and that is manageable. My husband and I share a lot of the duties so we can both fit in three exercise sessions each week. Our weekends are family time, interspersed with kids sports and catching up with friends. It’s like juggling really – we do juggle a lot of things, and it takes planning to make it work. Sometimes things drop unexpectedly, but we do our absolute best to not let big things drop.
My words of advice for someone wanting to set up a business:
- Have a very defined business idea and business strategy. I have a very strong image of how I want my business to look, I am not quite there yet, but it will eventually blossom.
- Write your ideas down, including all the finer points, and make sure you have a business plan of some sort so you have a reference to the direction you want the business to take.
- Research what skills you need to outsource in order to set your business up. For example, I learnt it’s not just about having a website. You should also have a communications or content writer, a marketing consultant, and an SEO consultant. This business setup list is endless, just work out what you need, but make sure they all work together to portray the same business model and image you want to create.
- Most importantly it is your business – make sure you maintain your branding, your image and the feel of the business you want to portray to customers. It’s important you surround yourself with consultants who truly understand your business and what image you want to present.
- Don’t be afraid to try. Fear has held me back in my life, and it’s not easy for me to approach people or network, it’s fun when I do it but I also find it daunting. My motto is ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’, someone says no, which isn’t that bad really.
- Try lots of different avenues to build your business. Work out what is the best use of your time, prioritise which tasks are going to grow your business and which ones you will fit in when you have time. Try not to get bogged down doing tasks that take up lots of your time but not add much value to your business.
- Work hard, but make sure you enjoy yourself.
- Take care of yourself. If you burn out and have no energy, what have you got to give?
So, the burning question … do I have a balance? Well as I sit here typing this blog, thinking about the juggling we do on a weekly basis …… I just received a text that my electricity bill is overdue. Nuff said I think!!