Away from the beautiful Instagram grid, the reality of running your own business can prove quite the contrast. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the winter months. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely love running my own business and for the vast majority of the time, I feel very lucky indeed. But, there are times when I miss working in a big, busy office full of people. Where I can wear nice clothes, not just jeans, top and an apron that end up covered in cake mix and icing sugar. Where an annual bonus, pension and private healthcare were all a given. There has been a cost to giving up all that, financial and otherwise.
You have to be pretty self motivated to run your own business. Working from home can be uneventful, if not quite isolating. A daily chat with my postman (nice though he is) does not meet my social needs! My youngest will start secondary school in September and I’ve been wondering whether working from home will continue to tick all the boxes.
I was invited to do a talk recently about the Fairy Dust Bakery story, and it gave me the chance to take a good look at what I do and why. It actually proved to be a much needed reality check.
I do it because it enables me to work flexibly while being a mother to my two daughters. I do it because I love the creativity and variety of what I do. In a geeky way, I enjoy the ‘business’ side of things very much too. I love being able to shape and grow my business as I choose. Be my own boss. It is a privilege to play a small part in the milestones of so many people, year after year. Make people happy with something you’ve made just for them. I have some lovely customers and I work with some great wedding suppliers too. Beats a meeting room in a big office building any day.
Making it work week in week out is key. Here’s what I’ve found helpful:
1) A work-life balance is vital. Running a business can be all consuming both mentally and literally. Put sensible boundaries in place. My phone is 9-5 only, Monday to Friday. I catch up on weekend emails on Monday. Book off holiday time in advance so we get time away as a family in the school holidays. I could easily work 24/7 otherwise.
2) Structure your day and keep motivated. Making sure I get out for a run or a swim helps. BBC iPlayer is great when I’ve got lots of prep to do. Spotify for music to calm/motivate/keep me going when I’m stressed or flagging!
3) Have a plan. Look ahead and work out what you want to achieve for the year to come. Most of the year I am so busy I can find it hard to look beyond the week we’re in. A long term wishlist helps keep my focus.
4) Love what you do. You’ve got to. If not, change something. It’s your business and that’s one of the perks of being in charge.
I know I’m doing the right thing. There’s things I miss about the conventional world of work and working from home may not be the answer for me forever. But the pros of running my own business far outweigh the cons. I have become passionate about women starting and running their own businesses too. I get so excited when I hear of their successes, and that encourages me no end about what I do too. Do you run your own business? I’d love to hear you think and how you find it!