As a small business owner, what would you say if someone asked if you are full time or part time? It’s something that I struggle with as somehow it makes me feel guilty however I look at it. Like many small businesses in reality it ebbs and flows.
I still do freelance design work to help pay the bills but I am also working on the business full time - well as full as I can. I find every stolen moment possible to reply to an email, write a social post, do some research, jot down notes, pick up supplies, post orders and all that jazz.
But then there are definitely days where I ignore the business completely, bury my head in the sand and distract with chores or hanging out with my family. And I like that too, that I can down tools, rest and come back at it with renewed energy and vigour when I need to. That’s the power of working for yourself, especially when you’re working solo and a big driver in wanting to be my own boss. Nothing offers more flexible working than working for yourself.
I am pretty sure that’s the norm in this sector and when you are lucky enough to have found you can turn your passion into a career then it doesn’t usually feel like work, it’s just a way of life. You can craft it into what works for you and your family.
It’s a fine balance
It’s a funny one though as I often feel like if I am not working 24hrs on the business then somehow I am not ‘serious’ about it or if I am working too much then I have ‘clearly missed the point’ of self employment and should take time out. The internal dialogue that people won’t take me seriously if I tell the truth or reveal my working patterns is ever present in my ear.
I recently chatted to Bex Burn-Callendar at the Telegraph about the pains of 'imposter syndrome' and how it can affect your daily mental battles. It's not something that I thought much about in my 20's or even my early 30's. I always had a quiet confidence in my ability and what I could contribute and I was fortunate to work with some really talented and generous people. But fast forward to post-baby persona and suddenly I feel like a fraud who is playing with the big kids, pretending it's a level playing field. I don't want to make excuses for having a son yet I find I frequently do, feeling like somehow it's a barrier to getting ahead in business.
Not enough time in the day
I think whilst I work for myself it will always feel like an uphill battle. Until I can work the numbers to bring in some support I will just have to accept my limitations and that there's only so much that can be done in the time available. My biggest issue is that I do need to grow much faster than I am right now and I need a flood of sales rather than the recent trickle. For me, finding new leads is so draining, and hard-selling is not in my nature.
There's also all of the other life admin that comes with having a family. I am fortunate that I can fit in the washing around packing orders, or nip to the supermarket after the post office. Sit on the sofa to write my blog posts or steal moments on my phone in the playground. All whilst juggling what life throws our way without feeling like I am missing out on time with my son.
I have to constantly remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day and most businesses take a good 5 years to get going so at just 2, I am a mere babe in the world of retail. I remind myself that I am also a mother and a wife and that I have a passion I know in my gut can be a success. I remind myself that having a child is not a barrier, and surround myself with people that feel it is an enabler. I remind myself that I am no less competent now than when I was 35 and if anything my multitasking skills have reached new heights (mums, you know what I mean right?) And I remind myself that it's ok for everything to be what it is right now. It's not a reflection of how hard I am trying, how good my ideas are or how I am measuring up to other's in the small business sphere.
I remind myself this is my business, my way. And I remind myself that I am learning as I go. And thats ok.