Finding balance in our business...isn't that the goal of all of us as entrepreneurs? To have a business that supports our lifestyle instead of the other way around?
The challenge is that most of us get caught up in the day-to-day grind of running a business and forget to focus on what's important: our own well-being, our families and everything that motivated us to start a business in the first place.
It's easy to do, and I have definitely been there. So let's talk about what that means - to have balance - and how I have brought it into my business, and how it impacts how AMR Design runs each and every day.
What does balance mean?
We sometimes think of balance as having a 50/50 split between work and personal life. But that's not really what balance looks or feels like.
Sometimes things are going to be busy and you're going to need to be more focused on your business. But likewise, sometimes life is going to happen and you're going to need to focus more on your personal life.
So perhaps let's think of balance as being present where we are. So if I am spending time with my family, am I truly present and able to let go of business concerns? And when I need to spend time in my business, can I do so in a way that maximizes my time?
If I can say yes in both situations, then that is balance.
What I needed to learn first
When I started this business, I certainly had a lot to learn about being balanced. First of all, as an entrepreneur, you end up filling a lot of roles and taking on a lot of different projects.
Before I could find balance in my business, I needed to learn a few important lessons and take some important steps first.
Step 1: Reflection
So for me, what I needed to learn was what was important. What did I truly value, and what did I truly enjoy doing? What work made me light up? What was I doing now that actually didn't need to be done by me?
This is something you can only really know by experience. The only way to find out what works for you is to try different things and see how they feel.
That introspection and reflection allowed me to figure out what my core offerings are and let go of the other projects that didn't fit.
Step 2: Building Processes and Procedures
Once I narrowed down my focus, I focused on doing it really well. I built processes and procedures which allowed me to work more efficiently. It isn't the glamourous part of running a business but the importance of having strong procedures in place cannot be underestimated.
Step 3: Building the right team
Only when I had those processes in place could I effectively build a team. Because I had done this work first, I could see what I didn't want to spend my time doing, and hired team members that excelled in those roles.
Because my business had a strong foundation, I could see where my team members would fit in, what role they would play and how they would be able to support me. We also strongly value collaboration, so I gave my team flexibility to fill those roles that honoured their own unique gifts and strengths.
Because their role was clear and they were part of building it out, they could learn quickly and I could quickly rely on them and let go of some of the tasks I was doing myself. That combination of being organized but not rigid and trusting that others have strengths I do not have was the key to building a team I love working with every day.
And that is really when things started to change for me and my business- when I could let go of some of those day-to-day tasks and take some real time off.
How it's affected my business
Let's talk about how this has affected how my business has grown and how it has affected my own well-being.
How I stay balanced in my business
First, this process has helped us all focus on providing a great client experience. Because we are able to do that, it makes the work we do more enjoyable and more sustainable.
I also moved out of my home office. Separating those two parts of my life helped create boundaries so when I am working, I can focus on work tasks, and when I am home, I can relax and enjoy my personal life.
We also very deliberately set our calendars a certain way. Mondays are dedicated to being in the office as a team. We go over what is coming up, the status of our projects and other matters. We never hold client meets on Friday afternoons, so if our team wants a head start on the weekend, that is an option.
As a leader, it's important for me to support working mothers. Our team follows the school shutdowns - like Christmas and Easter - so time with our children is a given. Working mothers also need a lot of flexibility, so having our projects clearly organized means another team member can step in when someone has an unexpected interruption (like a sick child).
Overall, this level of organization has helped me feel more grounded in my business. It helps me know that even if there are ups and downs, we have a solid foundation to fall back on.
How I keep myself balanced
There's a proverb: a handful of rest is better than two handfuls of hard work. Being in a creative business and being creative constantly is not sustainable. We can quickly become drained, especially when other parts of our business are pulling us around.
I also dedicate and protect the time I set aside for rest. I schedule a week each year where a girlfriend and I head to the mountains. The mornings are dedicated to hiking, and the afternoons are for business planning. It's a great chance for me to get back to nature and back to big-picture planning.
We need to be able to take a break before we get to mental fatigue - to shut off, rest and recharge. We need to be able to regain our enthusiasm for what we do and our inspiration.
It's that inspiration that drives us to come up with new ideas, to be more innovative and to serve our clients in the best way possible.
And that is really what balance has brought to my business: a more sustainable pace, more creativity and innovation, and a team I can rely on. There's freedom in knowing I am not the only person who can do what I do.
So those are some of my thoughts on balance and how it has impacted my business. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject! How do you find balance in your work? What works for you? Leave a comment below or reach out to me on social media- let's continue the conversation!