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A small business owner's guide to work-life balance

A small business owner's guide to work-life balance

When you run a small business, work-life balance can be hard to achieve. You might start out expecting to work fewer hours and set your own schedule. In reality, however, the entrepreneurial lifestyle often leads to longer hours and it can be harder to switch off. So if you love what you do but you’re worried about burnout, here are a few tips to help you rediscover that all-important work-life balance.

Set boundaries and stick to them

Being a business owner doesn’t have to mean being on call 24/7. Setting and maintaining professional boundaries can be one way to improve your work-life balance.

If you’re guilty of answering work calls after you’ve just sat down for dinner or working at the weekend to satisfy a last-minute client demand, it could be a sign that you need to set better boundaries.

Try to define a reasonable set of boundaries for your business and then ensure that you make these clear to your customers at the beginning of your relationship. These boundaries could be as simple as ‘no work calls during meal times' or a strict 9-5 working schedule. Whatever boundaries you go for, remember to enforce them consistently if you want them to be effective.

Learn to switch off (your devices)

Modern technology can make it hard to disconnect from work, especially when you’re a dedicated small business owner. Even if you’re using your mobile or laptop for relaxation at home, work is never far away. It can be tempting to ‘just check your emails’ and then – whoosh – you’re sucked right back into a business mindset, often setting your brain racing before bed.

If you find it hard to disconnect from work, switching off your devices might be the first step. Sometimes even an hour away from your phone and laptop can take a weight off of your shoulders. Try making new habits instead, like reading a book, listening to music, doing some exercise or taking a bath: anything that separates you from a screen.

Take care of yourself

As the owner of a small business, you’re integral to its success and it can be tempting to keep working for the benefit of the business, even if it’s to the detriment of your health.

However, if you’re putting in long hours, missing lunch breaks and soaking up stress, it can take a toll on your emotional and physical wellbeing. Push yourself too far and you risk burning out, at which point you’ll have no choice but to take a back seat for a while.

Before that happens, prioritise and practise self-care as a business essential, not a nice-to-have. Check out our self-care tips for the self-employed for more ideas on how to take care of yourself.

Ask for a helping hand

Having more ‘me time’ is all well and good in theory, but carving out that time can be a bit trickier in practice. Small business owners frequently fall into the trap of doing everything themselves. It can seem like a waste of resources to pay someone else to help out.

However, an attitude like this can be damaging to your work-life balance and to your business. It’s important to realise that not only is it OK to outsource, it can sometimes be beneficial.

If you are considering bringing in outside help, think about tasks that don’t need your personal input, like admin, or areas that could benefit from external expertise, like accounting or marketing. You might find that it makes all the difference to your work-life balance.

Embrace automation

Some small business tasks are undeniably tedious and time-consuming to do by hand but there’s often a better way. Choosing the right tools can shave hours off your weekly workload, making more time for family and friends. There is a host of software out there that can help with everything from appointment scheduling and virtual meetings to online payments and project management.

FreeAgent’s award-winning accounting software can help you bring all of your business admin into one place, as well as automating everything from invoicing to thank-you emails. If you’d like to embrace automation to improve your work-life balance, try a 30-day free trial of FreeAgent today.

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