When I worked in corporate for a large UK organisation I would regularly work 10-hour days and if I was working away from the office, would have to be ‘on point’ for more like 15 hours per day, so I don’t know about you, but I thought leaving my corporate job and setting up as an entrepreneur would be hard work, but that by being good at what I do, I wouldn’t have a problem getting clients while still having a better work life balance.
So, a couple of years ago, we decided to up sticks and move to France. We had bought a holiday home in the country side just above the Loire Valley there 10 years ago and now wanted to live there permanently for a better quality of life. We dreamed of long walks in the national forests, sitting outside the cafés in the surrounding villages, after spending time getting our groceries in the local markets.
But I still needed to work, not just for the money (which of course is important), but also for my sanity, so I decided to set myself up as a virtual assistant, doing social media, strategy and process development, plus general admin duties. So, I did the paperwork, got my website up and running and started my new business. It was going to be great… I could choose my own hours, help others build their businesses, and feel of value!
What I found is that because I was trying to do everything myself, at the same time as learning all these new tools and platforms that are so necessary outside of the corporate world, that I was actually working more like 16-hour days and at least 6 days a week… What was supposed to give me more time with my family, was actually swallowing me whole!!
So, I decided to take a step back, to understand what I had learned since leaving my corporate job and see what I could do to make my life simpler and more efficient! These are my Top Ten Tips:
- Being an entrepreneur is hard work
There’s no one telling you what to do or when to do it. You have to make all of the decisions, you get to say what happens when and what direction your business is going in. It’s an exciting position to be in, but it can be difficult to switch off, to turn your attention to something else and to spend time relaxing, without feeling that you could be being more productive.
- You need to organise yourself
Cos no one is going to do it for you. I suggest that every week, either on the Sunday or the Monday first thing, you write a list of everything you need to get done during the week and then prioritise the things that are going to move your business forward. Anything that’s not urgent and important, can go on the ‘if I’ve got time’ list
- You can fit work around life, not the other way around
Being an entrepreneur means that you can choose your hours, so if you want to go for lunch, you can choose to get up early or work a bit later in the evening… or you can even decide to only work 4 days a week, knowing that it may take a little longer to build your business, but it can still get done in your own time. Whatever truth is out there, the fact that you are busy as a bee today, doesn’t mean there’ll be nothing left to do tomorrow!
- You can’t do everything yourself
To help with #3 above, is the recognition you haven’t got time to do everything. You want to create your products/services, you need to update your website regularly to ensure google favours you, you need to be on social media all the time to monitor key words and build your community. You need to implement systems to sell your products, to communicate with your audience and …… the list goes on. As soon as you can afford it you should outsource those things you aren’t good at, or just don’t like. Even before you have enough money, you may be able to barter with others, so that they provide their services in return for you giving something back
- You need to remain positive
Being an entrepreneur can be lonely work, as I sit here in my office writing this, I have no colleagues to pass idle chat with, well I do have the dogs ?. So if you are feeling a bit down about how fast your business is growing, or you’re stuck on a particular task or question, you need to do something …. If you let yourself get dejected, you will stop moving forwards and the cycle of misery will continue. So take some time out. Go for a walk, meditate, remind yourself of why you became an entrepreneur or take 10 minutes out to pull yourself back together and note the progress you have made so far.
- A mentor is important
Having someone in the business, who has been through what you have been is important. They can guide you through your next steps, you can learn from their business and you can build your business quicker than on your own. They don’t have to be ‘world famous’, they just need to be a year or 2 ahead of you in setting up their business. Choose carefully and the help they give, is worth more than the money you pay out
- Politics aren’t just for the corporate world
Okay, so it’s not quite the same, but you do need to build relationships, you will find your cheerleaders and those entrepreneurs who influence how you work. So, don’t try to do everything along. Use your community, be nice to others and they will hopefully be nice back. Ask for help and stay true to your values.
- There are peaks and troughs in work and you need to be able to budget for that
You will have times when you have lots of work on, you’re not sure how you are going to manage everything you have to do and you’re having to work 7 days a week to cope… Couple of weeks later, everything falls flat and you’re wondering what the fuss was all about…! To help with that you need to budget during a peak to allow for the trough… and actually, during the troughs, you can start to build a bank of content, of relationship building that can carry you through the peaks.
- You need to be able to sell yourself
Call it what you will, but you need to sell yourself as well as your business. It doesn’t matter how much you believe in your business. The phrase people do business with people they like, know and trust is fact. This means that you need to put yourself forward, to let people know about you and your values, so that they will buy your products/services.
- You can’t be embarrassed about being successful
You may find that your friends and family don’t understand your business. They might think that you are just playing at work and if they don’t take it seriously, you might feel that you need to hide the fact that you are getting work, that you are doing work that is valuable and that you are getting paid more now than when you were in full time employment. But don’t, you need to celebrate your successes, feel excited about new clients and feel thankful for the money that’s coming in. If you don’t, then it will be more difficult for you to feel positive about what you are doing (see #5 for why this is important)
Being a business owner is hard work. You need to feel supported and you need a safe environment to ask questions and get advice. Being organised and having goals is important and you need to make sure you have a good work life balance so you can continue to enjoy your new business while your business grows
If you’d like to read more on setting up my business, then you might like this article