For many new entrepreneurs who are used to a more structured office environment and routine, it can be quite an adjustment to start working from home and having full control of your own time and decisions. Similarly for those who are coming back into the world of work after starting a family, there is a need to bring yourself upto speed and juggle the priorities and the demands of being a parent.
How can you embrace working in a new way? Find out below or click here for an infographic.
1. Create yourself some space
It’s vital to be able to create the mental and physical space you need to be able to work effectively on your business and to give yourself the mental breathing space to bring your idea to life and let it evolve. If you can, assign a dedicated room in your home (or even just a table) where you can create and where you can close the door at night to separate it from the rest of your life. If this isn’t possible there are now many options which extend beyond the confines of the home and which will reduce the feeling of isolation, help create space between your work and home life and also give you some creative stimulus to thrive on. Many towns and cities now have shared creative workspaces where you can rent a desk on an affordable monthly basis and be around other creative entrepreneurs. Coffee shops can also be good environments to work and think and can ensure you stay focused for a period of time without the distractions you encounter at home.
2. Protect your time
Being a successful entrepreneur requires a combination of self-discipline and flexibility, especially when it comes to your time. There are simple things you can do to give yourself a few parameters such as set days for certain tasks or committing to starting work by 9.30. But it’s also important to allow yourself the flexibility to respond to opportunities when they present themselves or to catch the wave of creativity when it flows through you.
Whilst there is a certain amount of freedom in your new life as an entrepreneur, there will also be lots of demands placed on your time. So it’s important to manage your time well. Two tips I have here are: firstly, check in with your perfectionist side on a regular basis. (So many creatives and entrepreneurs I know have this trait!) Are you spending too long on something which is not going to result in really moving your business forward and bringing in any sales?
Getting yourself out there, establishing yourself, meeting potential clients are going to create faster results than sitting behind your computer tweaking your website to within an inch of it’s life (I know, as that was me in the early days!) Secondly, learn to say no to some things. It seems counterintuitive especially as many of us like to people please, but you and you alone have to realise that your time is precious and you are the only one in control of it now. So, only take on work or go to events you feel will truly be of value and keep you on your path. Often, when you work for yourself from home, friends and family can perceive that you now have lots of ‘free’ time, so be prepared to say no to them too!
3. Recognise all the rewards
In the early days of setting up a new business, your new way of working can be a rollercoaster and the financial rewards can sometimes be few and far between. That’s why it’s really important to take a broader view on the rewards of working for yourself and to remind yourself of this when you start dwelling on the salary or the holiday pay you used to get. The rewards will of course be personal to you but will likely include the flexible hours, not being stuck in traffic on a Monday morning and being able to create and do work you are passionate about. That’s not to say that you can’t or won’t be able to make a good living out of your new business and it’s just as important to get yourself into a positive money mindset right from the start!
(PS. Let go of any guilt!)
Another trait I have found to be very common in many of my creative entrepreneur clients, particularly those with families to raise, is guilt. Many women in particular feel anxious about tending to their own needs to do the work they love – to spend time sewing, painting, photographing etc. as though it takes away from their ability to be a good and loving mother. With some simple time planning and talking openly about it to others (including your family), the guilt doesn’t have to hold you back or stop you from enjoying your new found way of life. I’ve found that many women are happier when they find work they love and have an outlet for their creativity and there is a positive knock-on effect on their family which releases them from any feelings of guilt.
In my next article, I’ll be discussing The Imposter Syndrome and how to recognise it and overcome it.
Sara Sherriff, Dollmaker
A female entrepreneur client of mine who runs a beautiful handmade doll business in Norfolk called Wildwood (www.doll-maker.co.uk) is a great example of learning to work in a different way to reach your creative goals. Sara is passionate about making and selling dolls and was keen to sell them at a recent Country Living Christmas Fair but had not found enough time in her schedule (which includes being a devoted mother to her two children) to make enough stock to earn a decent return on the investment needed to attend the Fair. She found herself being pulled in lots of different directions and was also using up some of her precious time and energy feeling guilty around her family about the choice she was making to pursue her creative ambitions, even though in reality she was still fully committed to her role as a Mum.
The first thing Sara did was to clear an outbuilding in her garden so she could designate herself a studio where she could retreat to and focus on her creativity and producing more work to sell. Sara then set herself a new routine of blocking out 2-3 hours of protected time each afternoon when she would be creating in her studio and which fit in around school times. This commitment made her feel like she was doing work that she loved in a way which didn’t impinge on her family life which in turn helped reduce any feelings of guilt she’d had previously.
Coaching really helped me identify how important it was to set aside time for doing what I loved. Before I’d imagined there’d be some magic point where all the jobs were done and I could finally focus on what I wanted to do. But without scheduling time for my own projects I would’ve never got things off the ground.