Self Employment Takes Time: Don’t Kid Yourself About the Hours

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I wish I had more time!

When your business is young and you’re fresh out of the gate, it’s easy to overlook how much time it takes to maintain a successful company. Once you dive into a day-to-day routine, however, the four-hour work week seems like a myth.

Are you ready to put in the time to move your business to the next level?

While I’m partial to work at home businesses, especially women-owned businesses, the principles apply to any kind of business, and to those run by men. (Giving a nod to my brothers.)

My advice to women pursuing self employment? Prepare for long days, longer nights and rising in the wee hours while your family sleeps. Dreamy images of nursing an infant while crafting magazine articles ain’t where it’s at. Find a nanny, gardener, accountant, personal assistant, housekeeper and handyman so you can work!

Take your business seriously.

Self employment isn’t easy. You are the show – the pony, the cart, the harness and the driver. Every detail is up to you. While I enjoy the inner workings of my small business, others scream at the thought of preparing their taxes or hire an assistant to perform certain tasks. Consider your strengths and weaknesses when evaluating your business goals, and never be a hero. Don’t let work pile up; even the smallest projects can end up biting your backside if left untended.

Keeping your head while launching a new business, flying solo and maintaining altitude as your business grows, is a glorious, if somewhat elusive, feat. Determination and tenacity are traits that serve entrepreneurs well.

The flip side of putting in the time is wearing yourself out. Use these touchstones to keep mental order and spiritual sanity:

  1. Make time for you. Remember all the things that make your heart sing and schedule them into your work week.
  2. Outsource what you can. Allow others to help your business. It’s good vibes when you spread the work and the love.
  3. Reach for the Zen moment. Heated up? Anxious? Find the Zen spot within you and take a deep breath. Spiritual moments are free and healthy.
  4. Breaks are a good thing. I’m the guilty party here, so this one’s for me.

What are your tricks of the trade, and what makes you a successful business person? Keep the conversation going and inspire others.


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About Laura Townshend 91 Articles
Laura's a native Texan. Besides loving Texas and horses, she's a marketing consultant, writer, and blogger who lives in the western Hill Country of Central Texas with her husband, their daughter, and a bunch of dogs and cats. Reach her at laura@biggreyhorse.com.

20 Comments Posted

  1. I would add do not let others define you. When I was teaching I had a couple of WAHM Mom’s who had their own businesses. I finally had to tell them that I did not expect more from them than any other parent because they were “home.” They seemed amazed. Other parents and people had put them in a box and made their lives far more challenging than they should have been. Their work should have been just as respected as those who left home and dropped their kids off at school and headed to a b&m job.
    Bailey recently posted..Crochet Eggs for Easter

    • Couldn’t agree more, Bailey. Some might disagree, but I never let the fact that I’m a mother and my business is home-based label me as a SAHM or WAHM. Yep, I work from home and I am a mother. Proud of it! But if people are going to label or put me in a category because of those facts…um, no! I was a mother when I worked outside of the home, and no one *ever* though of me as “just someone’s mommy.” Can you tell I take issue with this? 😉

      Stereotypes. Meh.

      Course, it’s all about attitude, too. How do you present yourself? Are you professional in your dealings with others? Mostly, how do *you* define your business, and yourself as a businessperson?

  2. Oh yes. This morning, as I sit here, trying to go through all of the blogs that I read, commenting, getting my name out there (Which is actually the part I love best, because people are nifty!), my 5 year old comes in, chatters at me and generally drives me grade A nutterbutters.
    ..because of the attitude Baily expresses up there.

    My husband’s only just now starting to get it. But what he cannot wrap his mind around is that all the networking- that’s work. It takes time, and it’s a part of the whole thing. I still get the rat-face and the “Oh but you’re spending all your time chit chatting…”
    Grrrrrr.
    TS Mize recently posted..Heart- Gut- Brain- Part 1

    • Hi Tori! I had only my youngest child at home when I revved up my business’ engine, but even with her, it was an educational process. 😉 The harder part was my grown kiddos…they were so excited that “mom was home” and would telephone, send text messages, email, etc., with the expectation that I could (and would) answer immediately. Sorry, this is my job, a passion, and I work just as hard (sometimes harder and always longer hours) as I did when I was employed by a company.

      Networking is so important – ceasing this most important function is a sure death for your business. Keep up the good work and continue your husband’s education. He’ll get it! 😉

  3. My hubby still does not “get” that I have work to do. He is getting better but it is taking time. Other people do not get it at all. I put in way more hours “working” than they do. There are many times that I am up in the middle of the night trying to get my blogs names out there. I have put in a lot of hours with very little money coming in.

    • I think it’s a slow go, Mia. Maybe we are fooled into thinking a business can take off early and soon because of the Web’s dynamic nature? Or maybe a few made it big quickly and we hope to emulate that? Truth is, it takes a long time to establish yourself. I look to brick and mortar companies – I don’t know of many that were an overnight success, or became household names with little or no marketing efforts (and intense, persistent ones, at that). 😉

      Hang in there – educate your husband – and keep after it. It’s worth it, I think. I put in the midnight oil all the time, but to tell you the truth, I’ve never felt more free in my life!

  4. These ladies have all left such great comments. What’s left? I couldn’t agree more with the long hours statements. No one “gets” why I put in such long hours, but it is because a lot of it I don’t consider “work”. I certainly wouldn’t have put in these hours at my previous j-o-b.

    Next, work only with those that respect you as a fellow business owner. If they consider you a “secretary” and you think you will show them differently, you are probably going to be wrong. One of my favorite clients referred to me as their “partner” last week…that was one of my proudest days ever!
    Angie recently posted..The Full RSS vs Feed Summary Debate

    • Congrats, Angie! It’s nice to be appreciated. 😉 As you infer, our attitudes about our work and how we approach it, are what dictate how we’ll be treated by others.

      It boils down to: Do you take your business seriously?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. My future blog empire (mwahahahha – rubs hands together evily) will be slow going. I work outside the home so my time to build is limited. When I did WAH full time, I also hated snide remarks. I will have my revenge someday when my efforts are bringing in residuals and I’ll be able to retire from it and have a hobby with continued writing while others struggle because they thought this was a waste of time.
    Daisy recently posted..Benefits of Growing Strawberries

  6. I am another one who has people around them who just don’t “get” it. It sucks. Everyone things since I am home I should not have a problem with the cooking, cleaning, taking care of the household, and so on. But, I also go to school full time (it is also online) and work. But yet when I don’t want to go to family gatherings because I am tired or I have work/homework to do, I get this crap from my soon to be mother-in-law that I must hate her and her family.

    I don’t know how to try to get anyone to understand anymore. Their stress on top of my own doesn’t make things any easier.
    Chrystal recently posted..How to Use Video Effectively in Social Media

    • I feel for you, Chrystal. Sorry your mom in law’s giving you heck about living your life and doing what’s right for you. Reach for the things that make you happy – after all, at the end of the day, you’re the one you have to sleep with, and answer to. 😉 Beyond that, you’ve got the support of your colleagues and friends. We love ya!

  7. There are not enough hours in the day when you are trying to build something special and you still have the responsibility to take care of small children. I make it a point each day to carve out some personal time for just for myself.

    • I’m right there with you, Jacqueline. I have so many things to do, professionally and personally, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day (and I get worn out). Funny how we need our beauty rest, yes? 😉 If my kiddos were still small, there’s no way I’d be able to work from home.

      Keep carving out that special time for you – it’s the key to success. Thanks for reading!

  8. My kids are still pretty young, and that’s definitely my biggest challenge. It helps that my husband is currently better recognizing my need for quiet work time. One day each weekend he tries to give me the whole day to work, which is a huge help. Doesn’t work out every weekend, but it’s better than it was.

    The other day is family time. So important to have that break together. It may be cleaning the house or it may be going out to have fun, but it’s together.
    Stephanie – Home with the Kids recently posted..5 Tips to Make the Most of Being a Stay at Home Mom

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head, Stephanie. Take time for yourself but remember to include your family, too. That’s great how your husband contributes – it’s nice to hear that he understands it’s not just for your work, but that you have some “mom’s quiet time alone,” too. When your office is based in the home, you have to treat it just like working for someone else’s company. Show up, be professional and invest the energy and time it takes to keep the business running.

      It sounds like ya’ll have found the balance!

    • I am absolutely in need of more help, and will soon hire a personal assistant. My business have grown enough that I can’t do it justice on my own.

      And yes, daycare is your very best friend if you have small children! Thanks for stopping by – hope to see you again soon. 🙂

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