2013 Shay Cochrane

Image by Shay Cochrane 

I’ve had and overheard a lot of conversations with other small-business-owner women lately about the summertime struggle for work life balance and their hopes vs the reality of their summertime work situation.  It sounds something like this…

“I wish I were able to take some time off this summer but it’s just not possible.”

“I was planning to take a month off but now that doesn’t look like its going to happen.”

“Financially we just can’t swing it. Maybe next summer.”

“I just can’t.”

That sucks. (Pardon my french) But that really stinks.

It stinks because as small business owners we work really hard with the goal of having have the kind of FREEDOM that would allow us to do “crazy” things like take extra time off during the summer to travel or snuggle with our kids more. Thats generally a large reason why we started working for ourselves in the first place right? But then a few things happen that rob that freedom:

  1. We don’t plan
  2. We operate out of fear  
  3. We box ourselves in.

I’m not hear to guilt you. Trust me.  The struggle is very real for me too.  It escalates when we actually love what we do and find it hard to turn away exciting projects that may not be a “best yes” (Thanks Lysa Turkhuerst!) for us during this summer season with kids home from school . Today, I want to bring those enslaving thoughts into the light so that we can feel the freedom to say yes to the things that owning your own business should allow us to do! Are you with me!?

So before it is too late, here are 3 tips for owning your business over the summer before it owns you.

1) You must make a decisive decision about what you want the summer to look like and then create a plan to make that happen.  Your client inquiries will not magically cease.  Your to do list will not go on vacation.  Your need for summer income should not to take you by surprise.  If you want any time off this summer you need to put it on your calendar and say a bold “no!” to ANYTHING that comes your way during that timeframe.

Interviews? Sorry.  Blog features that require prep work? Can’t. One-off small projects for a return client? Only if it can wait another month!  The truth is we don’t like to say “no” and often times that is driven by fear.  More on that in a minute.

As it relates to income, I am like you in that I need my income to continue even during my time off this summer. I have an assistant to pay, operating expenses and bills just like you. The truth is we have all year to plan for this.  Paying yourself a set salary all year that allows for a build up of funds in your account specifically helps you to offset “lean” months of work allowing you to continue to get paid while sipping Mai Tai’s with your toes in the warm sand.

Bottom line?

Time off is not going to happen to you.  You have to make it happen.

2) Don’t let fear win. Have you ever thought any of the following?

“If I say no they might not give me another chance.”

“What if they are not willing to wait and I lose the business?”

“What if I seem unprofessional for taking vacation or saying no?”

“If I take time away will people forget about me?”

“If I don’t keep up my online presence my business will lose momentum.”

Can you smell that? It’s fear. And fear will own you and your business if you let it.  Operating out of fear of loss is never a good decision making position. If you feel the fear gaining a grip on you and your business you have to choose to step back and refuse to listen to it.

3) You are not stuck.  Many of us box ourselves into situations because we have told ourselves that we “have to” do something. Our mind is set and we do not allow ourselves to follow the train of thought through for an alternate reality.  “I just cannot afford to take time off.” – Maybe, but have you considered cutting your lifestyle down temporarily to afford yourself a breather and more time with loved ones?  “I already said yes to clients.”  – Professionalism is SO very important and we must be women of our word BUT sometimes you have to put your family or personal heath first even if it means disappointing a client. Sometimes you have to make the tough decision to disappoint a client or potential client in order to say a much needed “yes” to your marriage or family.  You are not doing yourself or your client any favors when you are doing work that isn’t your best because your head is in too many different places.

I have one question for you, does your life exist to serve your business or does your business exist to serve your life?

Ten years from now won’t look back and wish that you had taken one more client that summer or stayed more consistent with your blogging.  Chances are good, however, that you would regret not having been present for this season of life.

You are the boss, Boss Lady. Its time to act like it. If you are already feeling trapped by what the next few months hold then now is your chance to put your foot down.

I’m cheering for you.

XOXO

Shay

*This content was originally sent out in our June SC Insider newsletter.  With these monthly newsletters my heart is to help small business owners to not only do business beautifully through free monthly styled stock images but also to flourish in their marriages, families and “real” life!  If you could use someone in your corner cheering you on in life and business you can join the newsletter here.