The term self care is often overused for many things these days. However, keeping yourself happy and productive is an essential part of running a business which is too often overlooked.
Providing for clients and customers can be all-consuming, but it is imperative that we look after ourselves and nurture the essence of our businesses. Self care when running a small business isn’t all scented candles and hot baths; if only it was that easy to relax when working for yourself! In this instance, self care is about looking after you and your business. It’s about taking time and seeking help and resources to build the type of resilience that supports you through the good times and the tougher times of entrepreneurship.
Self-care tips for small business owners
Which self-care areas are important for small business owners? There are obvious ones like eating well and making sure you get your body moving. There are also a few that may not be so obvious but are an essential part of creating a thriving business.
Here are five self-care tips to help you look after yourself and love your small business.
1. Setting boundaries
When you are the main person (or only person) in your business it’s normal to be wearing multiple hats at any one time. Getting a business off the ground takes a lot of hard work and every penny and client counts. Whatever stage your business is at, it’s incredibly important to set boundaries.
If clients are used to you answering queries at any time of the day, that is what they’ll come to expect. As your own boss, you get to set to the expectations of what level of support clients can ask for. This could mean not answering queries on a weekend or switching off all devices after 7pm each evening. You need downtime to replenish your energy and to protect your own mental and physical health.
Setting boundaries with family and friends is also an important part of the mix. Making clear the hours you are working and that you can’t be expected to rearrange things at a drop of a hat … things need to be planned for in advance.
2. Knowing and charging your worth
Whether in start-up mode or if you are a few years in, another essential self-care act is to charge what you are worth or, at the very least, the going rate in your industry.
It can be very dispiriting when you see your competition offering similar services at a lower cost or feel like you have to lower your prices to build your customer base. But it doesn't mean you need to follow suit.
You need to respect and value the hours you’ve put into learning your craft or industry, the training you have invested in and the experience gained in your field. Make sure you charge according to this.
Why? It makes for miserable work if you know you are working for less than you know you are worth. Charging what you feel is reflective of your work/experience maintains your self-esteem and belief in what you offer. It will also boost and maintain your sense of self-worth; a must when providing a great service.
3. Booking regular time off
As the adage goes: ‘you can’t pour from an empty teapot, look after you first’.
It’s not selfish to look after yourself. If you are constantly working yourself into the ground because you are running your business, it’s time to give yourself a break. If that scares you, or seems impossible at this stage, look at ways you can pace both yourself and your work more efficiently. It could be charging more with fewer clients or looking at investing in outsourcing tasks that detract from making more money.
Also, don’t forget to book regular time off – and protect this time religiously. That’s the time for you, your family and yes, that hot bath or downtime for other activities that you enjoy.
Which leads nicely to ...
4. Switch your business brain off
You need to learn to switch off your business brain!
True, this is easier said than done at times. As entrepreneurs, we can see opportunities to make money most places or find ourselves thinking we must just finish that one last task. However, being constantly switched on is a recipe for burnout and not being an awful lot of fun to be around.
Make sure you book activities and time to enjoy things without the pressure of having to make money from them. This could be a hobby, volunteering or something that allows you to be creative to switch that business brain off. You’ll bring a lot more to your business when you have outside interests too.
5. Join a business networking group
Business networking is not only about generating business. It’s also about creating relationships and support networks as a business person.
Whether you're a small business owner with a few employees or a solo business owner, connecting with people in the same situation can make the entrepreneur journey less lonely and frustrating. Find groups in your local area and online where you can share tips, experience and support.
Over to you …
If you don’t look after yourself, if you don’t assert those boundaries and respect your worth, you know that both you and your business are likely to suffer. When you think about it, self care isn’t only applicable to the month of February. It’s something that you need to add into your regular routine like you would other aspects of your business and life.
So over to you – what self-care routines or tips do you incorporate into your routine to look after you and your business? Share your experiences.
Take a look at this previous blog which also may be of interest: Self care in the small business community
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