A while back, I put some feelers out to my Instagram followers. I asked what my followers — my friends, my family, and my client-friends — would want to read or learn about. The overwhelming response was how to manage a business, while still doing life. How do I run a business, take care of a family, go to school, and (for some) work full time?
I want to preface all of this by saying that clearly, different things work for different people. A great deal of being able to run your own business has its roots in motivation and drive. If you have that, you’ll be able to do almost anything. The trick, though, is not letting other things fall by the wayside. I’ll be the first to admit, I still struggle with this, even on my best days. I’m a mom to five, a wife, and in the beginning stages of Autumn Lane Paperie, I was also a full time graduate student. Now that I’m not a full time student, I’m not even sure how I managed to handle school. I’m baffled by how I made it work.
Business is booming with Autumn Lane now, and even though my clients don’t hear from me seven days a week, I work seven days a week. Seriously. If I’m not communicating with clients, answering messages, or designing, I’m handling social media stuff, researching + reading up on things, or gathering up ideas. I don’t even handle the financial aspect of Autumn Lane, because Jeff does that. He also handles advertising & marketing, and all administrative items. (Truthfully, Autumn Lane wouldn’t be where it’s at right now without him on board. He’s alleviated so much of my workload as it relates to the icky business side of things, and I am so thankful for it. He’s also way better at that side of the business than I am.)
Like I mentioned, I’m not even sure how I handled school while working full time and having a family. I can’t begin to imagine trying to squeeze school in with our current workload. I’ve had to do a little self-examination over how this whole business-ing with a busy life thing works, and how I’ve made this happen. I have a few tips that might help if you find that you’re having trouble managing.
What is your purpose or goal?
Identifying your purpose or goal with your business will immediately help put things into perspective. For me, the purpose or goal in the beginning stages of Autumn Lane’s life, was to help out financially while being able to go to school and be there for the kids. This allowed me to identify how much time I needed to devote to Autumn Lane’s development. I worked on stuff during the day, when I didn’t have school work due, and was able to spend “free” time after work doing things as needed, as well as spending time with my family.
When Autumn Lane became more than something to just help out, I had to reassess what the purpose of the business was. It was no longer something to help out, but rather the way we put food on the table once Jeff sold his landscaping company to work with me. I poured more time into the business out of necessity. I still am, and I often work on the couch with my BabyMac these days, so that I can be around everyone while still accomplishing things.
I’m extremely grateful for our eldest daughter, Lily, because she’s jumped into the premade logo spot for Autumn Lane, and is slowly beginning to take on custom orders. This alleviates some of my workload, and gives her some on the job training — perfect for an art + graphic design student! I’m also thankful that our kids are old enough and can grasp the concept of hard work. I think that they see how often and how much we work, but understand that the massive efforts now are going to pay off in the end.
What is the purpose or goal for your business? Is it to make some extra money, or are you making this a full-time gig? Are you hoping to profit from a hobby, or have something to fill your time?
Ask the tough questions.
This is an easy one to talk about on a blog, but the questions are tough to answer.
What about your business and life is difficult to manage? Is it time, money, effort, too many commitments? Would you say that it’s because you don’t have enough time, while deep down you know it’s something else that is making it difficult? Why is it making it difficult to manage? In a perfect world with unlimited resources and time, how would you solve this problem? Now, in your world with your life, what is feasible to solve this problem?
Discover your limits.
Once you’ve determined the purpose or goal of your business, limits will be the next thing that you’ll need to assess. How much and how often are you going to work on this business or project you have going on? What other responsibilities do you have? Are you working full time already, do you have a family, are you in school? Where does this business fall, priority-wise, with all of the other things you have going on? What are you willing to sacrifice? How much money are you going to be sinking into this venture? What is your financial plan?
Whenever you figure out your limits, you’ll be able to quantify how much time and money you should be spending.
Organize and plan.
One thing that has helped me throughout this all is being organized and planning things. It’s as simple as putting a task in my planner so it doesn’t get overlooked, like paying a bill. It could be as big as planning for time away from work, or taking an hour to plan the week’s meals. I’m a faithful Limelife Planner girl. They’re super cute and stylish, and functional.
Scheduling my work, building time in to do certain things, and planning meals helps take the guesswork out of the day to day for me. I love cooking, but the absolute worst thing ever is whenever it’s 5pm and everyone is hangry and you have no idea what to cook for dinner. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times that I worked 8-10 hours, my brain was fried, and then I needed to pick something to make for dinner. Unfortunately, going to the Mexican place next door isn’t always feasible or financially responsible if you’re feeding seven!
- My planner, because I need to know what’s due on any given day.
- This meal planning sheet that I use on my iPad & the Procreate app, because it helps eliminate the age-old question…what’s for dinner?
- A crockpot, because some days, you just need to throw dinner in and forget about it.
Communication will be key. If your kids are old enough to understand that you need to devote an hour of your evening to work, that’s fabulous. It’ll make it much easier for you. Being able to say, “I need an hour, so if I get an hour uninterrupted, I’ll get done much faster.” is great. If you have younger children that might not grasp why mom has to be attached to a computer for a bit, that’s tricky! Consider chatting with your spouse about helping out, if necessary.
BUT!!! Ahead of chatting about that, it would probably be a smart idea to discuss your goals. Having support is crucial to managing your business and family life. For me, knowing goals and hopes makes me far more supportive of a venture. There’s something to be said for thinking, planning, and not going about it haphazardly. Goals, hopes, and planning make it easier to help your loved ones, too! If your family is on board with your goals, you might even find that you have a helper or two. Take that help!
The great thing about these tips is that they’re applicable to anyone at any stage in their business that feels like they’re spinning plates. Sometimes, the answer might not be “manage” so much as it might be “change.”
That is, changing how you’re doing things so that it becomes manageable. There’s no sense in doing the same thing repeatedly if it’s not working for you!
Tell me how you manage a business, while still doing life! What are some things that help you manage your business while still maintaining YOUR sanity?