As we sit here in the office, collaborating about a post on balancing business with other areas of life, it’s like we are literally living the post in real time, lol. Currently, Cara's one year old, ‘baby’ Neil, is tucked away in a corner of the office in his playpen, snuggled up with his blankie and peacefully sleeping through the tapping noise of our typing.
As so many of you know, it’s not always easy finding the best way to balance personal life with work. Each person finds their own routines to manage this, and there is no magic solution or rule. This balance can be something that is tricky to define and difficult to pre-plan - especially if your business starts to grow beyond your initial expectations or your business plan hits challenges that require more of your time.
Whether you are just starting out with your new business, or you are trying to grow your already established brand, each stage brings it's own unique challenges.
*Some of our littles enjoying their chewelry back in the day!
We can remember starting out at our kitchen table with a Rubbermaid tote and then transitioning to a small, basement bedroom as we started to get some more sales. At that time, Kelly-Ann and Cara had four children between the two of them...all under the age of 3!!! The days were filled with sippy cups, nursing, nap-times, training and keeping the little ones alive :D. This meant that to grow our new little business, we needed to do almost all of our work and packaging of orders in the evenings. We’d sweeten the late work nights with some dark roast coffee & Lindor chocolate, which often helped power us into the early hours of the morning! We're not sure if you could call it “balance”, but by choosing to give up a lot of our evenings for work, it generally allowed us to have more focused time with our kids during the day when they needed us most.
*Babies and business :)
*Toddlers and business ;)
*Nieces and their new chewelry!
Often the extra time spent on the business can eat into your family or friend time. Yet, in some ways, it also can create special moments of support and "it takes a village". Without so much of the encouragement and practical help from our family and friends, it wouldn’t have been possible to keep growing the business. As we tried to get our little business off the ground in the beginning stages, we had special people who helped us out with photography, counted & packaged beads, built IKEA office furniture, shared our social media posts, helped with babysitting, and kept asking "how it was going". Seven years later, their support is still going strong, sharing in the joys and encouraging us through the challenges. #grateful.
*Like we said, it takes a village :)! Kids, parents, hubbies... all hands on deck with the new warehouse!
*Teething stages with the kids made it extra fun to mix work with personal!
*Friends helping keep the balance ;)!
*"It's not what we have, but who we have in our life that matters."
One of the challenges with starting and growing your own hand-made business is that there often isn't a clear separation between work & personal life. When its not a 9-4 job with an end time, it often means that business weaves into personal life, family events and friend hang-outs.
For example...let’s talk about phones. A lot of you run ecommerce businesses. When so much of your business requires customer service through emails or social media messaging, it can require a lot of interruptions. This is something that has been a more difficult aspect for us to balance! We absolutely pride ourselves on getting messages and answers to customers quickly, including weeknights and weekends! But...pulling out the phone while socializing with friends + family to deal with an immediate work issue isn't always ideal (even though we are thankful for friends + family who have still been so understanding and supportive when those lines get a bit blurred!).
Sometimes, the phone or work issue just needs to be set aside. Our families need us to be “present”. When business and personal life get too wrapped together, we are always pumped for friends who insist we get our minds off of work with a round of golf or a cozy patio night with some wine and deep chats. It's our friends and family who often help us keep perspective!! We also all take Sundays off as a day of rest from our work.
*Keeping perspective on the course ;)!
Having family and friends be part of our journey also provides an accountable balance. It keeps us in check when we need constructive feedback, and it also reminds us of the bigger support system we are blessed by. Having our kids, siblings, parents and friends involved makes it a real team effort. It’s exciting to watch our littles grow up understanding that business is also a special part of our lives and family story. Keeping our extended family members part of the journey makes it more meaningful and connected to our collective memories. When we can't find a sitter for the kids, they tag along to the “bead place”! Grandmas stop by with fresh cookies. Our dads pop in to help fix things. Our siblings bring coffee and jokes ;).
* "Balance" at its finest, lol. Keeping the kiddos from tearing around the newly set up warehouse!
*Grandma visits with homemade cookies!
And before you know it, business becomes a thing of community for us.... which then makes it a blessing. Sometimes we find a balance, often we don't. But we are confident that the mish-mash has made us more grateful for the PEOPLE in our lives.
*Family times are special- and so are dads that help us with the elusive 'balance'!
*Sunshine and memories!
Be encouraged...the balance of personal life with your new or growing business isn't always easy or perfect. But don't forget to count the many blessings that come with the process!!
Share some of your helpful tips for finding some "balance" between personal + work life in the comments below! We'd love to hear and learn from you!
- the girls