As a small business owner, you have a myriad of priorities – grow your company, serve your clients, keep on top of admin. You may be wondering how you’ll ever achieve that elusive work/life balance. When was the last time you worked on your business plan, immersed yourself in a novel, made plans with friends or cooked the family meal without grumbling and rushing? Whilst working for yourself has many benefits, it’s not easy to down tools at the end of the day and forget about work.
As we have just started a new year, now is a good time to review how you spend your time. Here are some tips to help you stay afloat in a sea of tasks and pressures.
Prioritise more effectively
Action expresses priorities.
You will always have too much to do. You may need to accept you can’t do everything. What you need to do is get into the habit of identifying the priorities. The words of the great Stephen R Covey ‘begin with the end in mind’. If you’re clear about what you want to achieve, be focused on the tasks that will underpin those goals. Everything else can be done if and when there’s time.
Talk things through
Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself
Find a mentor – someone who has set up and run a successful business. They don’t have to work in the same field as you. The fact that they’ve been through what you’re going through ie. grown a business from scratch, will help you fast-track your learning and avoid costly mistakes. A mentor can also empathise and give encouragement to keep going through all the challenges you’re likely to face when setting up on your own. Try to find someone you can see regularly, at least once a quarter, and who will give their open and honest opinion.
Look after yourself
Do…or do not. There is no try.
When you’re extremely busy balancing work and home responsibilities, it’s all too easy to get out of the habit of exercising regularly, eating well, sleeping enough and socialising. However, these things help you to stay balanced and not get overwhelmed with work. In fact, the calmer and happier you are, the more effective you’re likely to be when you’re at your desk.
Simple changes might help you look after yourself better – you might like to try introducing new personal rules, like not working at least two evenings a week, or not looking at your phone after 8pm. You might be able to find an early morning exercise class which means you can get fit before you start your working day. And maybe once a month you could make time for a drink with friends after work.
Organise your finances
Fail to plan, plan to fail.
Poorly organised finances will only add to your stress levels. Staying in control of your income and expenditure is vital, so you need to keep on top of your invoicing and payments to ensure you don’t add cashflow to your list of problems. Also, making sure you don’t take more out of your company than you should by setting aside enough to cover your tax and VAT and any other bills will mean you don’t need to worry when the payments are due (see our 2020 Business Taxes Guide).
Get into the habit of spending a little time each week updating your accounts so that you keep accurate records of expenses and mileage, store your receipts safely and keep track of invoicing and outstanding payments. This saves time and hassle later on and is very easy to do with our online accounting tool.