I was speechless when a career woman in the banking industry recently spoke these words to me:
"Owning a small business is much easier than working a full-time 8-5 job. It is totally different than having to be someplace at a certain time, or getting up early…. You can do what you want during the day... laundry, go the store, or out with friends."
Or the times I've been told it must be nice I can "stay home" and "have a hobby..." Wait, what?
I'd love to think that's me - just sitting around in my pajamas, sipping coffee and doing laundry as my business grows itself. I confess: I fear that most of my friends and family think this is actually what I do with my time.
I've spoken to several small business owners, from realtors to musicians to writers to pastors to etsy shop owners, who encounter similar sentiments from "real" career folks, family and friends. I won't deny there certainly are perks to being a small business owner, especially if you can work from home. But if you are, remember: you are an entrepreneur because you know life is too short to be stuck in a cubicle!
As someone who likes clean lines balancing family and working from home is a constant juggling act. I won't deny how much I sometimes miss a set schedule, and being able to punch out at 5pm! Though a "typical" day is hard to define, a normal routine often looks like this:
7:30 a.m.: Send the kids off to school. While my water heats and french press coffee steeps, I clean up breakfast, create my "to do" list and if it is a Monday, make my weekly meal plan.
8:00 - 12 p.m.: Turn off my phone to settle in front of my computer for dedicated, uninterrupted time organizing, editing and delivering client files. Answer clients emails. Try hard NOT to think of that looming pile of laundry sitting next to me.
* Twice a week I break at 10:15pm for my barre class, grabbing groceries at ALDI on my way home.
1 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.: Return to my office to continue post processing images, especially during my busy season. This is also when I schedule meetings and consultations thereby preserving the rest of the day for flow-time and family. Blogging is an important part of my job as well as keeping up with social media (both of which are not my strong areas) but are usually scheduled for future posting by 3p.m. Prepare packages for mailing. Ready any photography gear for evening shoots. Answer any last client emails or phone calls that came in before closing the office for the day.
* During my kids' summer break, things can be too stimulating with family at home, so I will head for a quiet cafe for blissful time, alone with my laptop, in a state of flow, with an almond milk latte on hand.
3:00 p.m.: I take a few minutes to decompress with (more) coffee before the kids come home. (Thanks to my Canadian heritage, this continues to "center" me, and I know my parents back home on the farm are also sitting down at the kitchen table with a cup of Folgers and some sort of baked good.) I return any personal texts and phone calls.
3:30 p.m.-7 p.m.: Kids get home from school.
Or, if it is summer break, I reappear from my office to the kitchen, which has somehow exploded, and it's dedicated cooking, cleaning and family time.
7 p.m.: Early evenings are reserved for photography sessions. If I'm not photographing, I try to hit the gym, mow the lawn or enjoy downtime with friends.
10 p.m.: After the kids go to bed, I usually hang out with my husband with a glass of wine on our back deck or, if it is my busy season, I will go back to work until ungodly hours.
Saturdays are reserved for weddings. Then, Sunday - Tuesday I go through a "post-wedding hangover" where my introverted self needs a healthy dose of quiet time and my friends think I went MIA. Days are spent sorting through thousands of images, and triple backing up my wedding files. Meanwhile, I get to drink much coffee while listening to my favorite podcasts.
In reality, we have a choice in creating our lives. For myself, I feel incredibly lucky to be free of the cubicle, even if it means people think I'm sitting around drinking coffee and tinkering with my hobbies! :)
*Sundays are dedicated family time.
*Twice a week is "toilet hugging day" where I clean houses from 8-4pm to help supplement our incomes and raising of 4 kids. It's great exercise, and aids in my wine drinking habit and adds hot dogs to our mac + cheese.
Tell me in the comments below: What are the perks to being a small business owner? How do you balance work / life routine?