There are a lot of common misconceptions that people have about starting a business. They think “how awesome is it to be your own boss? You can set your own hours! Pay yourself as much as you want!…I’ll have more time for my family/friends/volunteer work/personal hobby etc etc etc. These are just a couple of the things I said when I decided to start my business a few years ago. Sounds great right?
But…as many entrepreneurs quickly discover that is often far from the truth. It’s funny how we go from that weekday disdain for our employers who “work us too hard and pay us too little” to realizing that we are even more of a slave driver. And it’s true, I’m WAY more demanding on myself than any of my previous employers. Since I started my business in 2010 I’ve often found myself working into the wee hours of the night, interrupting quality time with my family or friends to answer “just one more email…it’s important.” Unlike that 8-5 office job, running my own business has made it a challenge to stay balanced.
I recently read a book by Michael Gerber called The E Myth. It’s a wonderful read for anyone who’s thinking about starting a business. It really put into perspective the fact that as business owners we are no longer just doing a single job (ie: Taking photos); In order to truly be successful, we’re wearing all the hats of a real business (CEO, CFO, Receptionist, Photographer, Marketing Director, Salesperson, Editor, Blogger, Designer, Retoucher, Quality Assurance Manager, Customer Service Rep, Accounts payable, Accounts Receivable, Human Resources….etc etc etc.). As a result we end up running ourselves ragged if we aren’t careful.
In realizing my mistake, I’ve been working really hard to establish business hours for myself. After certain times I don’t answer emails or business phone calls. There are certain days and times that I don’t schedule meetings or shoots, those times are dedicated to my family/friends/whatever is most important. And I’m glad to say I’ve made some improvement, but I won’t lie… those emails that come in requesting info about shooting a wedding at 11pm are still really tempting. The good news is, no damage has ever been done by me waiting to answer them until morning. Despite these changes, I recently realized I’m still not giving myself any full days off. I’m always working on SOMETHING.
So recently I gave myself a day off. A full day off to do what I wanted to do and not worry about work. I woke up and made breakfast in bed for my hubby, I snuggled and played with my kitties, brainstormed some personal/house projects. And then, I pulled out my camera to shoot for ME. I was surprised at how refreshing this was. Taking even just this short amount of time away from “work” inspired me and gave me time to connect with my loved ones.
Lesson learned. I’m looking forward to taking a few more days off in 2014. =)