June 6, 2012

Rachel Strella

Two Years In Business: The Search for Balance Continues

by Rachel

I’ve been at a loss for writing inspiration lately. I usually have a lot to say, so this is unfamiliar territory for me. As I think about why I’m feeling this way, I consider that my nearly two years in business has left me exhausted. In fact, I haven’t taken a full day off since I started the business.

Budding entrepreneurs sometimes ask me if I would start my business again, knowing what I know now. I hesitate for a moment before responding because I don’t want to discourage them.

For the record, I don’t regret starting my business. I didn’t know who I really was until I became a business owner and that’s an honest statement. But I might have thought twice had I known how much work it was going to be, and how much of a challenge it continues to be.

Entrepreneurship has interesting cycles. For me, I started a business to release the shackles of the daily grind, only to end up holding myself hostage to my own company.  But, at least it’s on my own terms. It’s ironic, but it’s also liberating. I know the buck stops with me so I don’t mind putting in the extra hours.

But, there are times when I also don’t know how to stop.  I tell myself, ‘sure I can do it,’ while I trudge through yet another task.  The driven, over-achieving spirit of the entrepreneur wants to embrace every opportunity and will sometimes struggle with saying, ‘no.’

That’s ironic, too, because even when I achieve success, I find that ‘good’ just isn’t enough. It has to be better, the best, even perf…. Ok I’m going to stop there before I open Pandora’s Box.

This whole process is a search for balance. Business owners wear many hats while attempting to have a personal life. I admit that I have allowed my personal life to take a back seat these past two years. I love what I do, so it’s easy for me to blur the line between ‘work’ and ‘life,’ but my husband reminds me that we work to live – we don’t live to work.  Ok, ok!  Just let me check my email… one… last… time!

And it’s back to center to try to find balance again.  I’m happy my business is where it is, but I’m still struggling with balance.  It’s another stage of business – and an even tougher one - because I’m afraid if I let up, everything will crumble.

As it turns out, I guess I’m not at a loss for words. Maybe I just needed to a break and a chance to recharge my batteries in order to write something that’s meaningful to me (and hopefully for you, too).

How do you find balance?

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13 comments on “Two Years In Business: The Search for Balance Continues”

  1. Great post Rachel. Your 2 year old business is not only survuvng but thriving. You're serving your clients, employing people and helping grow the local economy. Take a deep breath, give yourself a pat on the back AND a day off!

    1. Hi Leanne,

      I remember you attended the launch party (and gave me that nice gift card), so it's amazing that's been two years! Thanks for giving me the 'day off!'


  2. Balancing work, family life and personal space--reading, exercising, shopping or whatever you do for me-time--is tough. I think that finding a little time for the latter is important to feeling like you are achieving a livable balance in the other two! That's a lot easier to type than do, though. I struggle too. As a mom of a 3 and 5 year old, I feel like no matter what I do I should somehow be doing more. I always feel better when I recharge---even if it's just starting a new book or sitting down with a magazine (alone!!).

    Congratulations on two years in business!

    1. Hi Anne,

      I don't have children, but there are days when I still feel like I should be doing more. When it's 'yours,' it's not as easy to just clock-out.

      I agree that when I re-charge I feel better. I have to admit that sometimes I feel guilty for taking 'me' time, even though I know it's deserved! The entrepreneurial curse, I guess!


  3. Lovely post. And I know exactly where you are coming from as I set up my own business nearly two years ago. I don't have much of a social life but that really doesn't bother me. However one thing I do my best to make sure of this time around (burnt out once before) is that I have at least every Sunday off - sometimes a Saturday too if I'm lucky. That is my balance. Thanks for sharing on Bizsugar.com

    1. Nice to ‘meet’ you and thanks for the read! I’m amazed at how many people have reached out today and said they could identify with my post. Owning a business is like nothing us – and things that are unique come with the good and the bad.

      I’ve been able to have a social life more as time goes on. I also incorporate my social life into my business life, as I’ve found many colleagues have become my friends. My saving grace the past few months has been the ability to take half-days on the weekends. Some time is better than no time!

  4. One of the "problems" with running your own business (and even more so if you are a solopreneur) is that you put so much of yourself into it that it is sometimes very hard to see outside of it. It's your baby, and you're watching it grow and develop...

    But, if you don't take care of yourself, and have that balance you mentioned then it will be for naught because you'll be too exhausted and apathetic too appreciate what you've accomplished.

    One thing I've learned as a solopreneur is that it pays to bring in others to help with the business- this can be a virtual assistant, a freelancer, or a permanent hire. It also helps to get yourself involved with communities of like-minded entrepreneurs so they can help encourage you during those downs.

    Good luck with your business!

    1. Adam,
      First, thanks for stopping by – I appreciate the read and the response. You’re certainly right – it’s your ‘baby’ and you need to nurture it. And you’re also right that if we don’t take a break, we’ll be too exhausted to enjoy the fruits of our labor. It’s certainly true – in fact, I experienced this in the past two years.
      Sometimes we don’t allow ourselves an opportunity to relax – to take a break. It’s almost as if we’re glutton for punishment! I do have a staff, which has helped tremendously. Slowly, but surely, letting go….
      I also founded a mastermind group of other small business owners who can relate. In fact, it was a conversation among them that prompted me to write this blog. It’s nice to know I am not alone!
      Thanks again!

  5. Rachel -- Since we connected on LinkedIn, I've been looking at your site and blog and other platforms.

    I should note that I JUST started working for myself. 🙂

    I keep telling people that no, I don't have more "free time." I get to choose how I schedule my time, but there isn't any "free time." That's maybe the biggest adjustment. And my husband and I REALLY need a vacation, but when would we do that?

    The one thing keeping me sane (or at least more clear-headed) right now is exercise. I'm trying to make it a point to do something active and just by myself everyday.

    Thanks for sharing your story!!

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Congrats on striking it out on your own! Carrie Wilkerson explains in her book, "The Barefoot Executive," that because she works from home or works for herself does not mean she can just drop everything and have coffee whenever people want. There's work to be done!

      Exercise can take less than 30 minutes a day and it's really worthwhile. It will help with all the mental stress and aid in keeping your head clear! It's one thing I try to do myself!

      Best of luck in your endeavors and thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

  6. [...] I often hear from people that they have social media burnout. And it’s actually quite common.  In fact, it’s something I struggle with myself – not only because social media is my job – but because I also enjoy using it to keep up with friends. That makes it challenging to distance myself from social media to achieve work/life balance. [...]

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