The past two months have seen Mandi Makes pushed way to the back as I've been taking on a bunch of casual teaching days to pay the bills. This is probably the biggest dilemma of every small business owner. Do I focus on growing my small business, or taking on paid work?
How do you balance growing a business while still paying the bills and not burning out?
NO SUCH THING AS BALANCE
I hate to use the "balance", it seems so cliche to talk about balance in life. And, I truly don't believe in such a thing. Each day/week/month calls for a different focus; perhaps more work than play, or vice versa. Or, even perhaps a whole day of self-care is needed! The past couple of months have called for some paid work. Hence, the neglect of Mandi Makes. No blog posts, no emails, and very little social media presence. With that, has come a lot of guilt!
I've followed other small business owners on social media and I've seen so many working crazy hours and being sold the idea that that's what I have to do to get somewhere with my business. This is also the narrative sold by many business advisors on social media.
Work 20 hours a day, don't have a life for a year and then your business will take off.
Whilst I do see how this could be "necessary" to really get a business to take off when you are the only person doing every role in a business, it just isn't the way I want to do things. This year I've been feeling the guilt of not working hard enough on my business. With that has come personal judgement on not only whether or not I have what it takes, but do I really want to make my business successful, because I'm not interested in not having a life in order to do so.
Since leaving teaching full-time at the end of 2021, I decided that I wanted to enjoy life more. Less stress and more time to do the things that bring me joy. Not that teaching didn't bring me joy, but I have to say, the stress of all the added paperwork and box ticking stripped a lot of the joy and purpose away. But, with casual teaching comes the fun part of teaching without all the stress and pressure. It's bliss ;) With this decision, I was not going to be one of those small business owners that just lives and breathes their business to the point where they neglect relationships and their own self-care (not to mention paying the bills!). Those that know me, know that I'm a big advocate for self-care!
THE HARD TRUTH ABOUT BEING A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER
Even with a conscious decision about how I want to "balance" business, paid work, relationships, and trying to move beyond the neglectful business owner guilt, comes all the hard truths about the 'solopreneur' life. No one else is going to market my business for me, no one else is going to develop new products, no one else is going to write my business plan, no one else is going to take product photos, no one else is going to write blog posts, no-one else is going to manage my social media posts, no one else is going to update my website and fix its problems...and the list goes on!
In keeping with my desire to avoid burnout and not make my business an all-consuming venture, I've had to let go of the big list of never-ending tasks, the hard truths and the "not doing enough" guilt. There have been days when there was a big list of things I wanted to accomplish, but I got offered paid work, so that list was pushed to another day. Rather than feeling frustrated with my business's lack of momentum and growth, I focus on the blessing of income and what that meant instead. I also chose to remind myself that there will be a time to focus solely on my business (school holidays) and a time to earn money to pay the bills. Whatever time I happen to be in, it's ok to be there, guilt-free, because the time to change focus will come and that will be ok too.
Sure, my business isn't growing leaps and bounds like perhaps it could if I didn't value my relationships and self-care (and paying the bills), but I wholeheartedly believe that it will grow as God desires it to, or not.
So, may this be a reminder to you to just be in the space where you are right now. Remember that there will be a time to shift focus, there will be a time for growth and a time for being still. All of these things are ok!