Running a Business

Balance// Like an Ocean

Balance. As a momprenuer, this word is very elusive and intangible to me. I’ll preface this guest post with this: I think it’s impossible for me to achieve balance perfectly. Needs, situations, circumstances are always changing and our world is constantly moving and shifting. As a mom, I will always put my kids first, and because their needs are constantly changing, I will always need to adjust and adapt my responsibilities so that I can be the best mother that I can be. And as a business owner and mom, this means that I have to be intentional and careful with the choices I make. I’m going to be honest- this isn’t easy for me because I have so many dreams and plans for my business and I often feel torn because I love what I do, but I am also going to be a mother and wife before anything else. It’s even difficult to admit that I am torn because I even feel guilty that my heart feels like it is tugged in so many directions. While I’ll probably never achieve perfect balance, there are some things that I remind myself of each day that helps me. I’m all about self-talk and giving myself little pep speeches, so I’ll share some below!

1.) Keep your values close to your heart.
The two main roles I juggle are mom and business owner. (Ok, I guess wife is pretty important too!). At the beginning of 2017, I told myself that I needed to clearly define the priorities and values that I have for each role, and to base my choices on those values. As a business owner, I value the quality of my work and take pride in the pieces that I handcraft. I want to ensure that I am not making sacrifices on the quality of my work or cutting corners, so I made the choice to not outsource handmade process to anyone else. As a mother, one of my top priorities is to be present with my children both physically and emotionally. Because of this, I made the choice to make sure I didn’t take on too much at a time and have since implemented order limits. These two choices are going to be cornerstones for me as I attempt to find this elusive work-life balance.

2.) Recognize that you make choices everyday- big choices, small choices and micro-choices. Be intentional with each choice. Each of these choices will either help you find balance, or take you further away from balance. Personally, I’m working on my little micro-choices because I make little choices that take me away from balance without me even knowing it. For example, I’m learning to let the dishes go unwashed so that I can spend more time with my children. I’m also learning to make the intentional decision to put my phone down when I go to bed so that I don’t stay up until 3 AM. My Instagram scrolling habit may be just a habit, but when I don’t get rest, I can’t find balance. Being aware of the little choices that I make and how it affects the big picture is something that helps me find balance.

3.) Learn how to say no. This is a tough one for me. I like to get things done, and done well. I like to give it my all and I have a hard time turning down opportunities. I’m learning that if I say “yes,” to everything that comes my way, I’ll be drained of time and energy, and it will be counterproductive in my journey towards balance. Which brings me to the next point….

4.) Quality over quantity. I would rather pick 5 things to do and be known for doing them well, than do 10 things and do a mediocre job on each one. This is my mantra for my business lately: as my business grows, order volume is growing as well. I would much rather be known for the workmanship and craftsmanship of my work, than fill as many orders as I can receive. It is hard for me to say no because I have a fear of being left behind or that I am going to miss out. I also have a habit of saying “yes” to everything because
I can feel insecure in my abilities, and that I won’t be able to do the few things I do say yes to. (So I say yes to everything!). But this year, I am going to challenge myself to be courageous. I am going to dare myself to believe in myself enough to know that I don’t need to do everything, but that I CAN do a few things well.

5.) Fill your cup and give yourself self-care. You can’t pour from an empty cup. It is not selfish to indulge or take the time to pamper yourself. When I fill my cup and surround myself with things and people that energize me, I am taking care of the people around me because they need me to be whole, healthy and well so that I can give them everything I have. Taking care of me, means I’m taking care of the ones I love.

6.) Find your tribe. The search for balance is often a lonely one. As I open up to friends about my struggles with balance, I’m realizing more and more that though we all have different circumstances, each person that I share with shares some of the same struggles. We can be sounding boards for one another as we seek balance. It takes a village!

And now it’s your turn! If I trick myself into believing that perfect balance can be achieved, I won’t be doing myself a favour. Like the ocean, balance always moves and changes with each wave and tide. The 5 things that I listed above are mantras that act as my anchors so that with each wave, I can stay afloat and keep my values close to my heart. Balance isn’t always about knowing how to divide your time and energy up into perfect little pie slices, but more about being able to stay true to your values and goals with each wave.

All images by McLachlan Studios

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Running a Small Business: Heart Matters.

success

This is a post for fellow business owners, or those who are thinking of opening up a small business. I get told a lot of different things as a business owner, most of them very positive.

“How do you do it with 2 littles and one on the way?”

“What’s the secret to balancing your roles of mom/business owner?”

“It must keep you super busy!”

“What an accomplishment!”

I often smile and say thank you, and leave it at that… but the truth to it all is that there are a lot of things left unsaid. I don’t have it all figured out, I’m still learning how to balance my work and being a mama. And some days, I cry a lot.  Plus, there are often things that are unsaid about running a business that I feel I need to share from my heart.

Recently, I’ve seen a few posts on some local networking group from new, small businesses who feel defeated and discouraged because they feel like they don’t have many sales, or don’t have many followers on Instagram, or they feel like their followers and fans on social media are not engaging with them, or they aren’t part of enough giveaways. I realized that I’m not the only one that has insecurities surrounding their small business. I want to encourage those who might feel the same way or have insecurities. The truth is, a lot of business owners feel this way, even if they are seen as a established small business. It is never easy to run a small business.  I want to share a little bit about the vulnerabilities and sensitive heart matters on running a business on social media in this post.

red-hands-woman-creative-large

I’m just going to say it. There are a lot of things that make my heart feel vulnerable when running my business. For starters, it is easy for myself to compare myself to others, and I often have a tendency to compare my successes to those of other shops. Don’t get me wrong. when I see that another shop has reached 10,000 sales, I am extremely happy for them, but there is a part of me that wonders how many sales I’ve made to date and how that compares to 10,000 sales. The next one is hard for me to admit. When I see a good giveaway being hosted on social media, I sometimes wish I was invited to participate in it and I sometimes wonder if I even would make a good fit for any of these giveaways. Or, sometimes my heart beats a little unsteadily when I see that someone that I “follow” on Instagram doesn’t follow me back, or worse…. unfollows me! I’m even embarrassed to even say all of this out loud and I’m resisting the urge to hit backspace because it all sounds so neurotic. But the truth is, I could go on and on! I know I’m not the only one to have these thoughts because I see posts about them all the time in my networking groups.

In short: There are times I feel insecure as a business owner. I think the reason behind all of this is because running a business puts us in a very vulnerable position. We pour our hearts out into our businesses, invest our precious time and money into it, and it’s only natural to feel that way. It’s only natural to feel a bit vulnerable! But I think that it’s important to remind ourselves this:

 What success looks like to one person is not the same as what success looks like to another person. 

As small business owners, we need to give ourselves room, grace and patience. The beauty of running a business from home is that each business has a unique backstory to it! Some open up a business because they need the additional income. Some open up businesses because they have found something they enjoy making and want an excuse to make more of. Some business owners are stay at home moms. Others are working moms. Some businesses will see an overnight growth and huge spikes in sales, but others will grow slowly but steadily. The story behind each business is different, and each business owner’s life is different.  Because of all these differences- each business is going to grow and thrive differently. I think that the road to success for small businesses begins with pacing our hearts and our work loads. I’ll write another post on some of the practical things I do to balance my business with my mothering duties another day, but I wanted this post to be focused on these heart matters. What we can do is encourage each other, collaborate with each other, and lift each other up when insecurities hit. Collaboration, not competition! If you’re a small business- whether you’re seen as “big” or “small” keep doing your thing! Be encouraged, because what success looks like to one person is not the same as what success looks like to another person. 

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