Small business work life balance
I recently went on a family vacation to Seattle, Washington. One of the challenges for small business owners is taking time off. There is no vacation pay, no backup for work while you're out of office. In some cases there may not even be a weekend.
This economy is also contributing to a feeling of reluctance in closing the business for any length of time. But it is important for small business owners to take time off to recharge themselves and reconnect with family and friends. Small business owners more than anyone need to be able to have that balance and be able to "go home" at the end of the day and not be preoccupied with work while with family. It can be difficult but it is important to be where you are both physically and mentally. When you are in your small business all of your focus and energy should be on your clients and your small business. But when you are done for the day, you should also have the same focus and energy on your family. Being home thinking about business or being in your business thinking about family is not good and impacts your effectiveness.
Mini vacations may be a good way to recharge and have time with family, even if it is a staycation or a day trip to a small town nearby. Schedule potential and current clients a few days out and wrap up projects before time off to minimize the impact to your small business. If you do get a call from a new client schedule them after your time off. This can help keep the balance that small business owners need to be able to continue to run their small business without their small business running them down.
Being in the people business
"We are in the people business and happen to use money as a way to serve the needs of the people" - former Frost CEO Joe Frost as retold by Tom Frost chairman emeritus.
This was a statement that Tom Frost's great uncle made to him many years ago. What a fascinating way for a leader to see their business. Mr. Frost's great uncle did not say they were in the banking business, or the lending business, they are in the people business. Money is not the object or goal, it was a way to serve the needs of people.
People may say this is from a time that has long since passed, that the emphasis is on money, productivity, the bottom line, shareholder value.
As small business owners, we are more wary of the bottom line because of our size. But the truth is all small business owners are in the people business. Clients do business with us because they are not an account number, they are John or Jane. Clients don't speak with a customer service representative or a sales agent, they speak to us, the owners. In some cases we can talk about how our families are doing because we have that connection.
I have read articles from marketing and sales consultants that emphasize that people don't want to do business with a company, they want to do business with people. They want to connect with the person they are working with or getting services from. This is why Joe Frost's statement may be even more valid today than it was then, and an important lesson for small business owners as well.