At this busy time of year, the idea of work-life balance can seem almost laughable, especially for anyone who runs a small business. With seemingly endless tasks popping up, parties, family commitments, and more, the last weeks of the year are difficult to prepare for. However, taking space from your work is important, more so now than at any other time of year. Because so many others—including business owners and many of your own clients—take time away from the office during December, they’ll be more understanding than you’d expect when you let them know you’ll be taking a week or so off.
This time to recharge and enjoy the holiday season is good for you, and for your business. After all, you don’t want to regret missing out on family activities and spending time with your children and/or partner during this special time of year! Plus, you can use the time away from active work to give yourself the necessary distance for assessing the status of your business at the end of the year.
List Your Successes and Challenges
When you look back and evaluate how your business did over the past year, you need to take a step back and try and view it objectively. That can be difficult for entrepreneurs who are giving their all and really throwing themselves into something they’re passionate about. Yet, it’s an essential skill for small business owners to cultivate, because they usually don’t have the luxury of hiring expensive consultants to determine areas for improvement.
What were your business accomplishments in 2016? What business dreams came true for you this year? I always find it easiest to focus on the positive to start. List what has been working, and what has made you feel good about the direction your business is going in. Then you can start thinking about the less savory aspects of being your own boss.
Where were your business challenges? How can you improve? What lessons did you learn? These are the most important questions to answer if you want to grow your business next year and ensure future success. If you find it difficult to pin-point the challenges your business has faced, try thinking about it on a per-client basis, if you remember how you felt working with different clients. Or try running some rudimentary analyses of your finances, time spent on various types of work, or anything else you have data for, if you’re better with big-picture thinking. Both of these strategies can help reveal where you have room for improvement.
Think About Next Year’s Goals
When I suggest that you set goals for the new year, I don’t necessarily mean they all have to be about increases in profits, or number of clients served, big projects completed, etc. Obviously, we all want to make gains in those areas with our businesses. What I really want you to think about while you’re taking time away from the daily hustle of small business ownership is how you can build better balance into your life. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had more time to spend with your family, or pursuing other hobbies and passions, without sacrificing the success of your business?
If you can think about what would let you do more with your work time while freeing you up to enjoy life, write down a list of ideas. Whether it’s hiring a virtual assistant to take over some of the projects that drain your creative energy, or letting a few demanding clients go in order to focus on more consistent ones who don’t stress you out, there are a lot of potential ways to improve your work-life balance for next year.