I’ve been running my own business for about 12 years now. I’ve grappled with it and at times felt like giving up. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling disconnected and lonely juggling my big family (5 kids) with my work commitments and trying to stay focused. I’ve neglected my wellbeing because I was just too busy, and questioned if I’m good enough, worried about failing.
I have pretty much lived out all symptoms of the stereotypical woman in business, trying to do it all, hindered by confidence issues, imposter syndrome AND the logistics of managing life! I have beaten myself up for it -and then learnt from it, and now I am experiencing these behaviours all over again, through my clients.
These things that I have battled and overcome are things I now see other women doing every single day.
About 3 years ago I met my business partner, Anna, and we joined forces to offer the women around us who were also running their own businesses a holistic approach to help navigate the world of female entrepreneurship from a space of feeling their best, so they grow their businesses with confidence and clarity.
Before training as a Life Coach, I was a Nutritional Therapist and in this work I realised how enormously important it is to look after your wellbeing as a whole, and not to segment your life into different areas because that’s when things get neglected. This realisation that the ‘work’ you and the ‘personal’ you need to work together seamlessly and lovingly in tandem helped me build a more balanced life and support others in doing the same. When we focus too intently on business success, sacrificing our health, inevitably some of the building blocks we have built come crashing down around us.
Running your own business can be a shocker. Stressful. Lonely. Endless work. Loads you don’t know. Imposter Syndrome. Sure, you can try and hustle your way through it, doing every training under the sun, firefighting each challenge as it arise – but what if there is a different way?
Let me get specific about bringing a more holistic approach to your business, and how you can ensure you’re covering all your bases as a woman running a small business.
- Putting you first
Learning the mechanics of running a business is not enough. It’s like building a house straight onto the ground, without laying the foundations first.
If, as an entrepreneur, you don’t learn to look after yourself first, how are you supposed to equip yourself to look after a business? When you don’t take the time to look after yourself first, the risk of burnout becomes significantly higher. As this piece in Harvard Business Review explains, passion, and indeed obsession, for your work becomes a double-edged sword.
So, where are the boundaries to help you put yourself first? Deciding on working hours is ideal as being switched on 24/7 is a recipe for disaster. How do you look after yourself? Do you move your body, eat well? Do you know how to switch off and unwind?
If you plan your diary around the commitments for yourself you’re going to be stronger and better placed to run your business and serve your customers.
- Get well connected
Just because you work alone, doesn’t mean you need to be lonely. We all need connection and a sense of belonging. We also need cheerleaders and a mostly positive mindset to keep us on the right track. Finding a place to meet (often virtually) and get to know like-minded women is ideal for the female entrepreneur. Finding your tribe allows you to renew your passion, connect over shared interests, gives you a forum to exchange ideas and knowledge and often a feeling of accountability really helps make progress. If you find the right community, you should be able to present yourself as a full, rounded person and not just a business owner, embracing your vulnerabilities and opening up which can allow you to push the boundaries of your comfort zone and use the support of your tribe to give you momentum.
3. Learn and grow
We know you need to keep learning to grow personally and professionally. Take time to explore what it is you need to know. What is going to help you grow and keep reading, attending workshops and learning. Learning with people you respect and who are recommended is a brilliant way to be even more invested and committed in the process.
4. Know where you’re going
If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there? Goal setting and planning is a skill, and one that will see your business progress and grow, and if done right, will see you flourish as a person too. From my experience as a coach over the past 12 years, and from my own personal experiences as a busy mum of 5 building a business, I know that keeping control over what is happening on both sides of your life serves you extremely well. Simple practices such as always emptying your head of ideas and to-do’s at the end of each day whilst setting yourself up for the next day with your tasks and plans takes away any feelings of overwhelm or anxiety around what you have to do and leaves you feeling in control whilst allowing you to prioritise self care and fitting your work around it. Having also worked in my previous life as a PA for renowned entrepreneur Michael Smith, owner of Firebox.com, Moshi Monsters and meditation app Calm, I got to see first hand how a successful entrepreneur approaches their business and life, always thinking and planning ahead, knowing what their aims are.
5. Develop your mindset
Feeling fearful of failure, doubting yourself, having imposter syndrome and quaking in your boots at getting outside your comfort zones are all too common for small business owners. Surrounding yourself with the right people is a step in the right direction when it comes to having more positivity in your life. It’s also important to do that work on yourself and recognise the internal chatter that’s going on. When something triggers your fear and starts to hold you back because you’re worried it might go wrong, have a little chat with yourself and ask yourself “but what if it goes right”? We’re big believers in failure not being a thing. It’s all lessons and learning that lead to progress.
So, if you resonate with any of this I really hope this article inspires you to take a little more time for looking after you, so you can then look after your business! I’m confident that if you move away from those habits that are keeping you stuck and embrace a holistic approach to your small business – you will love it!