A Balanced Life?
This year my home-based business has experienced a surge in sales. Since my business is service-based, that means I’ve had an influx of writing and editing jobs to keep me busy. I’m not complaining. These jobs are quite literally my bread and butter. When my job board is full of work, I feel comfortable and secure because it means I will have income to pay my bills for the next month or two. However, it can also get overwhelming. With a lot of work to do I can become a bit obsessed with my business and end up neglecting other aspects of my life. Which is a bit of a paradox.
The whole reason I started my home-based business was to accommodate my family obligations. I work from home so I can spend more time with my kids and avoid the cost of child care. As my workload increases, I find myself wondering if I should put my youngest daughter in childcare a few times a week so I can get my work done. But is that what I really want?
I had to start asking myself some questions about where I wanted my business to go in the coming years. Here are the questions I’ve had to ask myself. Your questions might be different, but it’s a place to start.
- What is the goal of my business as it applies to my career? At first I considered my home-based business a temporary fix to our family money problems as I stayed home to take care of my children. I assumed when my kids started school, I would return to the 9 to 5 workforce. After nearly 6 years of working from home (and loving it), that plan has changed. I enjoy being my own boss and having some flexibility in my work schedule. I plan to make my home-based business my new career for the long-term. At least that’s the plan for now.
- How big do I want my business to get? This was a question I never thought I’d have to consider. My early years as a small-business owner were spent focusing on getting work and staying afloat. As my business grows and my job security becomes more established, I find myself wondering how to expand my business or whether I should. I’ve decided that I don’t want my business to grow to the point that I need to rent office space or hire a staff of twenty. (If I’m going to do that, I might as well get a “real” job.) I have decided that I want to continue to work from home, but hiring an assistant or some freelance workers down the road is an appealing prospect. I plan to revisit this idea in the coming year.
- How do I keep my business life and my home life in balance? In the past, I’ve had the policy of taking any job that was presented. Freelance work is such a “feast or famine” endeavor, I took on every job because I wasn’t sure if I’d have work in the next few weeks or months. That policy was fine in the beginning of my business, but now I’m having to weigh how much a job pays against how much time and energy it’s going to take. I still take most jobs (because a girl’s gotta eat), but I’m a bit more particular about the type of jobs I take. I don’t want my business to become my whole life. The trick is to grow my business to the point that it meets my financial needs while allowing me to “live.” Weighing the stress, time commitment, and emotional toll against the financial benefits of a particular project has become part of my system. To maintain some semblance of balance in my life, I try to observe daily business hours and avoid working during “family time.” I’m also trying to weave in “me” time here and there to keep me sane.
I realize that as my business grows, I must re-evaluate different aspects of it periodically. What might be good for me and my business this year, might not be the right thing for it next year or the years to come. Periodic evaluation can help me keep my business on course and my workload manageable. At least that’s my take on it. Let me know how you keep your business and life in balance.