FYI: You Do Not Have To Settle
Today I received a nasty-gram in my email inbox from someone furious to hear "NO" and at first I felt like I was punched in the gut and I questioned whether I should just give this person what they wanted.
Then I realized that I just spent a year building a business, celebrating successes and learning through failures, and that if I gave up everything I had just worked to learn just because one person chose threats as their preferred form of communication I might as well just quit now.
So, I just need to make a post for my fellow business owners struggling to figure out their boundaries and work-life balance and let them know: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I'm pretty sure that all business owners, or at least the ones who stay in business for the long haul, learn about setting boundaries the hard way at some point or another. And I think that for many, it goes something like this:
In the first 6 months of being in business you are in the honeymoon phase.
You are invincible. You are so excited to work that the adrenaline from being a business owner is more motivating than even the strongest of star-bucks espresso. You can take on anything, you can do anything, and you can do it F A S T. Lightning fast.
Then, as you exit the honeymoon phase and enter the reality phase, you realize that you cannot stay awake until midnight every day working on your business. You cannot use Monday through Sunday 6am to 11pm as business hours. You realize that you can't give away the house for free just because it's going to give you "exposure" and you realize that you too have to pay bills and that it's time to buckle down and figure out a system for yourself.
And that is hard. It's hard to admit that change is necessary and it's even harder to change a habit.
I mean...you just spent 6 months getting into the routine of being on the clock from the minute you wake up, you that moment right before you fall asleep when you drift off and your phone falls out of your hand, hits the nightstand, and startles you back into wide awake mode.
Usually, right about this point, right after you realize you need to make a few adjustments and come to terms with that, is when something in your life happens that sets you back and forces you into normal working hours a little faster than you can handle. Maybe you have a baby. Maybe you have a death in the family. Maybe your kid is on summer vacation and is home all day. Maybe you get the flu. Maybe your computer breaks, or you have car trouble. Maybe you get hit by a hurricane or the snow storm of the century.
It doesn't have to be horrifying to be impactful. But now you are in switch mode- you don't get to transition, you just need to have it all figured out NOW.
But you don't. Because you are human.
And that is where you need to know that it is ok.
Step back, and give yourself a minute to think clearly before moving. And be honest with yourself: cut to the chase, and don't butter in up to make yourself feel better. It doesn't help.
Reach out to friends, family, clients, fellow business owners for advice. Listen to it all- the good advice, and the bad advice. The good stuff, keep it. Use it. The bad stuff, learn from it. Mentally file it away for what not to do. It's all useful.
You will make mistakes during this time.
You will be overwhelmed, you will be afraid that one wrong move will bring you livelihood crumbling down. You will think about the last time you punched a clock and the dream you felt on Monday morning when you stepped out the door to go punch that click and you will feel more pressure than you've ever felt in your life to keep the life you built for yourself.
You will hear NO from people you love.
You will struggle. You will fail.
But failure is not a permanent state unless you allow it to be.
To move on from failure, you simply have to get up and try again, but differently this time.
That's when you go into rebuilding phase. You screwed it up, you learned hard lessons about setting boundaries and knowing your limits and you start from scratch.
This time you skip the honeymoon phase, and dive right into reality phase- you set boundaries for yourself and you make your work manageable. You pay yourself enough to live and take on less clients instead of trying to be the cheapest service available and having to work 24/7. You let go of the clients who aren't willing to allow for growth. You say a few kind words for them. If it's your thing, you say a prayer that when they experience what you just went through that someone out there is there for them and has the grace to allow them to be human. But you let them go without a fight and you move on and your top priority becomes taking the customers who believe in you enough to weather the storm with you and you spoil the crap out of them. You let them know they are valued. You give them the best damned service you can possibly muster up. And you stick to your boundaries, creating a SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE.
To all my friends getting their shit together, to my friends figuring out how in the world to be the CEO, CFO, COO, Marketing Team, Design Team, IT Department, HR, Administrative Assistant and Customer Service Representative all at once: you are not alone. And you're right, it's not easy. But there are others out there who have been through it or are going through it and we've got your back.
Not all people in your life are meant to be there and it's ok to make mistakes. You can do it. And we are here for you.