In many cases our ability to make a decent living is directly correlated to the amount of work we can done, which more often than not means that there is never an off switch. Even if you take a break or a vacation, the business (and its problems) are always on your mind. Those who work in an office, get to leave their problems/work behind when on vacation.
Of course taking a holiday isn’t problematic if you are a mobile worker and you wind up packing your laptop with your beach gear but what I am talking about is leaving the laptop at home and intentionally refraining from checking your email every 20 minutes. Can you just unplug for a week or two and still remain afloat.
When you are the entire staff complement this can be really tough to do because, unless you have a good system in place that keeps ticking over when you are not at your desk, your income depends on your continued productivity. You may be reading this now and may also be thinking about the next few months when everyone starts to close for the holiday break. That could be a problem for you if your income for the next few months depends on your customers feeding you work. When they close for the holidays, you also effectively close and have to wait until your customers return to office and you can start generating more income. It can be the most stressful time of the year.
A solution to this annual stress fest is to change your business model if you can. The kinds of changes to make would be to introduce systems or product/service offerings that continue to make you money even if you are not at your desk. Here I am talking about products or services like presentations or information products your customers could buy from your website or purchase in some other form on an ongoing basis. Even if this model doesn’t suit your business, take a look at your business and consider what you can package and sell using the Web or some other distribution model that doesn’t depend on how many hours you spend pounding the streets each day. When you find a model that will work for you, give it a go and see how it works. Develop multiple distribution models and tweak them as you go.
The point is to free yourself from the direct link between the time you spend working and the income you generate. If you can’t do that you will remain a virtual slave to your own business and the long term effects of that continuous need to work could erode your enjoyment of your business and have a serious impact on your health and wellbeing as well as your relationships. Consider the impact your long hours may be having on your family life and your friendships. It is easy to get swept up in your work and the need to do more of it and to forget why you struck out on your own in the first place. Didn’t you leave that corporate job so you could bring more balance to your life? What happened to your plans to spend more time with your kids when they got home from school or going for a walk with your spouse through the local park? What about all those truly meaningful books you bought and have piled up somewhere and which you meant to read?
Working for yourself is not easy. It can be pretty tough and at the same time it is important to make the time for yourself and for the things that really matter most like your family, friends and those little things you really want to do for yourself.
If you have been able to pull yourself back from the brink, why not share your experiences by commenting below?