Can you believe we’re already shared 10 articles in the Small Business Handbook? From prepping your online shop for the holidays to writing a meaningful mission statement, the handbook is filled to the brim with helpful tips and advice for successfully running your small business. If you’ve been waiting for an article all about bringing balance to your business, you’re in luck! 2019 Spoonflower Grant recipient Ellyse Harris, the North Carolina-based Spoonflower maker behind the handmade doll company Leesie and Pip, is sharing the three tips she swears by to keep it all going.
Running a small business is no small task! This is especially true if you double as a parent and spouse. Over the last couple of years, I have learned that maintaining balance is key to my happiness and success in business and in my personal life. Simply put, being balanced will help you avoid burnout, increase creativity, give you greater stamina to tackle tough problems and keep you close to those you care most about!
Ok, balance is great and all… but how can a small business owner who has many other roles and responsibilities actually do it? In my quest for balance, there have been three critical steps that have been game-changers for me: prioritizing, consistent planning and knowing when to ask for help.
This first step is critical and acts as your compass while you navigate the next two. What are the most important things in your life and business? If everything came crashing down around you, what are the things that you could not stand to lose or fail at? Use the answers to these questions to help you set and rank goals for your business and personal life. Life is full of trade-offs and knowing what matters most to you will help you spend your time where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. For me, my family will always be my number one priority. I’m extremely passionate about growing my business, but knowing my family is #1 helps me allocate my time in a way that I will be proud of when I look back on how I’ve lived my life.
Time is a limited resource and, when you are trying to run a small business, there is never enough of it. It may be tempting to charge right in and spend your time on the things that clamor the loudest for your attention, but I’ve found it is much, much more productive to first plan how you will use your time. Every Sunday, I set aside time to plan out my week. This helps me be intentional about how I spend my time and ensures I keep my priorities in check. I have a planner where I keep track of everything I need to do for my family and business. I use it for everything from building out a meal plan to laying out a strategy and set of actions needed to reach my goals for my shop. Then I create a timeline of when I will accomplish certain tasks and I get to work.
Even the most efficient planner in the world will soon be faced with the cold hard reality that there isn’t enough time in the day for them to fully run every aspect of their business and meet all the demands, hopes and expectations of their personal life. So what do you do? Roll over and give up? No way! You do need to get some help, though.
Take a step back and look at the many tasks and responsibilities you have. Which ones can you realistically offload or delegate to someone else? Time-consuming and simpler repetitive ones are easy targets. Perhaps it’s a business process or maybe it’s yard work. Doing this will empower you to spend your time on the things where you can make the most positive impact, and keep you from going insane!
At one point I was doing everything for my business. I was designing dolls, sewing and stuffing the dolls, shipping them, plus doing all of the admin and marketing work for my shop… all while taking care of a toddler. I was exhausted and knew something needed to change. I decided to hire a seamstress in my community to help me sew my dolls and I am so glad I did! Delegating that task allowed me to get my sanity back and focus my time and energy on creating new products instead of always feeling so bogged down in production. The change has worked wonders for my business and for my personal life.
Our lives and our businesses will both be much better off if we can learn the art of maintaining balance. Prioritizing, planning and asking for help are game-changers for small business owners. Even with them, life is always throwing new things at us, so maintaining balance requires constant effort. We’ll need to periodically assess our level of balance and make adjustments where needed based on our circumstances, but following these principles will keep us well on our way!
Mastering the art of balance when running a small business can be tough but we hope Ellyse’s three tips will kickstart your journey to finding stability both in both your business and home.
About the Guest Author
Ellyse is the business owner and creator behind the heirloom doll company Leesie and Pip. When she isn’t designing sweet toys and illustrations she is soaking up time with her little boy and husband. Ellyse finds her inspiration in childhood wonder and classic picture books. You can find her on Instagram @leesieandpip and shop her handmade heirloom dolls at Leesie and Pip.