When you first start your own small business, your working hours tend to be all over the place, working from the moment you wake up, late into the night, and sometimes even around your regular work hours if you haven’t yet quit your 9 to 5.
There’s no doubt that this sort of dedication and hard work are what is needed to get your new venture off of the ground, but there also needs to come a time when you say “enough is enough” and set proper work hours for yourself. Here are five reasons why it’s important to set boundaries:
In the early days of setting up a business, you’re usually driven by some other external force, like passion or the need for change, and while that’s a great motivator it can easily run out if you’re living and breathing work. Burnout is incredibly common for new business owners and falling out of love with your project after putting in so much hard work could spell disaster for the longevity of your business. Setting proper hours and not working outside of them allows you a bit of separation and time to decompress.
If your business is in any way client focused then one of the biggest mistakes you can make is setting their expectations too high. One little favour done outside of business hours and the next thing you know, you’re getting emails at 2am demanding changes to the project to be done immediately. Make your hours clear to your clients (whether they’re 9am to 5pm, or something more ad-hoc around your kids’ schedules) but be firm and don’t complete work outside of these times, as it’s a slippery slope to high demands .
Believe it or not, having set working hours will make you more productive. If you know that this is a time when you’re supposed to be working, there’s less temptation to distract yourself by having Netflix playing in the background. If you have a schedule set for yourself, you’re more likely to stick to it and work solidly in this time, rather than doing dribs and drabs here and there, which is ultimately not very productive.
Unless you’re one of those people who works best under extreme pressure, it’s likely that having no downtime will really limit your ability to be creative. Giving your brain a break from the constant focus on your new venture will give you the chance to reboot and this can be really important for coming up with new ideas. Spend some time reading a book, watching a film, playing with your kids or chatting with friends and it’s likely that inspiration will come to you far more naturally.
It’s incredibly common, when people start a small business, to find it all-encompassing, which is fine for them but not so great for the people around them. If you’re in danger of becoming a business-bore, try to limit yourself to only talking about your business during work hours unless it’s absolutely necessary, to save your nearest and dearest from getting totally fed-up with business talk.