One of the things I hear time after time from entrepreneurs, including myself, is that it’s lonely. This is especially true for solo-preneurs. You started your business to do the work you love. You quickly learned there is a lot more to it than just that. As I’ve referenced before, you are accountant, sales, marketing, and everything else.
What happens, is your business starts to own you, rather than you owning it. And what follows is that you spend far too much time working ‘on’ the business and less and less on working ‘in’ the business doing what you love. You also tend to pull away from social activities because there is always something that needs your attention. You may even pull back from your family. More than one entrepreneur mother has told me she felt she’d been neglecting her children. For me, it was my family and friends.
I’ve learned three things that have been immensely helpful.
So, here is my challenge. Take tonight off from work. Sit down with these three simple items, and map out how you’re going to make these changes. Let me know what you’ve done and how it’s worked out for you. I’d love to hear!
I’ve written before about the joys and challenges of being an entrepreneur. Yes, you get to choose your schedule, your clients, your lifestyle, but you also work harder. As an entrepreneur, you get to do work you truly love, but you also have to do sales, marketing, accounting, pay for your own healthcare, and everything else required to run a business. It can be all-consuming and leave little time for the other aspects of your life. The health risks they take have been well documented.
The past 6 months have been the most challenging, emotionally draining and sometimes heart-wrenching months of my life. You see on top of being a single woman running my own business, 6 months ago, I invited my elderly mother to come live with me. It was best for her and I wanted her closer to me than the nearly 3000 mile distance between Seattle and Washington, DC.
As I started preparing for her arrival, as excited as I was, I also mourned the loss of my personal space, and having to store some precious things away. However, I always knew it was the right thing to do and that this was what I wanted. And we both loved living together, getting used to one another’s rhythms, learning how alike we were, and as always, my mother continued to teach me so much.
Mom arrived November 15, and it’s been a ride, to say the least ever since. Mind you, in all of this, I have been an insomniac since July 23 (no idea why it started then) and have been operating on minimal sleep. I needed a hip replacement on Dec 2, Mom fell, broke her humerus and spent 6 weeks in rehab. Once home, it was a long haul to recovery, one that involved much caregiving and assistance on my part. Mid-March, she caught the flu and started a slow decline. Sadly, on April 3, Mom passed away here at home with me, in her sleep. A very peaceful way to go, but shocking for me to go to wake her in the morning and discover her gone.
So, here’s the point of my story. Yes, it’s been the most difficult period of my life. Losing my mother is something I wasn’t at all expecting, and muscling through to try and continue running my business has presented monumental challenges. But I did it. I kept most of my appointments that first week, knowing that an attempt to keep life as normal as possible was the best route. However, I hit a wall earlier this week. While I have been able to do my work, help my clients to the best of my abilities, it’s taken a toll on me and I knew it was time. So, with a relatively clear calendar at the end of this week, I decided to block off time, step away from the frenetic pace of my business, and just allow myself to ‘BE’. It’s time to rest and regroup, and yes, mourn the loss of my dear mother. Muscling through was the right thing at the start, but now it’s time for the rest.
And, that’s the point here. As entrepreneurs, missing out on work can mean missing out on income. And for many, that isn’t something they can afford to do. So, do what you have to do, but also take the time to care for yourself. Take time off, take a weekend away, block off your calendar for an afternoon and take a walk in nature, or whatever else makes YOU happy. Or maybe just cut your schedule back and work shorter work days. Just as a parent needs to take care of themselves to care for their children, an entrepreneur must care for themselves to care for their clients and their business.
Andrea made the choice to leave the corporate world in May 2013 to pursue her dreams.