Are you feeling overwhelmed with trying to run your business AND do everything else you need to do in life to survive? I know many people online will tell you that the cure for business overwhelm is to delegate.
This advice to delegate is true and good, but what if you can’t afford to delegate? What if your business is growing but it’s still so small and you know that you can barely afford to pay your expenses, let alone hire on a virtual assistant to help you out?
I totally get it because it was a good 4+ years of me running a business before I began regularly paying a virtual assistant to help out. In the beginning, we needed every penny we made from the business to either invest back into the business or to pay for our living expenses. Taking some of the business income and investing it into hiring someone was just out of the question for the first few years.
So what do you do if your business is growing and you’re feeling overwhelmed with all there is to do but you can’t afford to hire on help? Here are some suggestions:
1. Streamline Your Life
If you are going to be a successful business owner, you are going to have to get really focused on what really matters and become adept at saying no to the things that just aren’t or can’t be a priority in your life right now. When you say yes to one thing, you have to say no to other things. What are you going to say no to so you can say yes to your business?
- Use paper plates for meals. (You can get them very inexpensively at Aldi or Dollar Tree or Costco.)
- Become best friends with your crockpot and stick with very simple meals (I’m a big fan of the Eat at Home Crockpot Menu Service — and it’s just a few dollars per week to have someone plan your menu and grocery list for you!)
- Buy simple convenience foods a few times per week to save yourself time.
2. Simplify Your Expectations
We put so much pressure on ourselves to feel like we have to live up to certain expectations — in our work, in our marriages, in our friendships, in our parenting, in our home management, in our physical appearance, and so on. By doing this, we often add extra stress and responsibilities that are just eating at our time and energy.
Now, hear me out: I think we should have great priorities, but we also need to give ourselves grace to realize that no one person can do everything well. So give yourself grace, and stop expecting that you can do all.the.things.
- Look at your schedule and responsibilities and ask yourself, “Is there anything on here that I don’t need to be doing at this season?”
- Lower your standards on what a clean and organized house looks like. Good enough is good enough right now.
- Focus on the the few areas in your business where you’re seeing the most return on your investment and set your other ideas to the back burner for now. (Newsflash: You will be smart to learn to do this well now, because even when you have a team someday, you’ll be more effective and productive if you don’t spread everyone too thin. Remember my Focus & Finish mantra?)
3. Set Good Boundaries
If you’re not careful, having your own business can completely take over your life. If you don’t set good boundaries, pretty soon, you’ll find that you are almost always working or thinking about work.
This will not only frustrate those closest to you, it’s a recipe for personal burnout and business failure. You need to have healthy boundaries and breathing room in your life if you want to be successful as a business owner.
- Set specific work hours and be committed to them (not rigidly, but be consistent with it). If possible, compartmentalize work hours and non-work hours and don’t multi-task between the two.
- Work fewer hours. Remember that the work will fill up the time you allow it, so you’re often more productive when you don’t work as much.
- Take time off. Every single week. No matter how much you feel like you have to do, you will be healthier and happier if you give yourself at least one day or one afternoon completely offline each week.
4. Share Responsibilities
Just because you don’t have a paid assistant right now doesn’t mean that you can’t accept or ask for help! It might take a little creativity and thinking outside the box or the willingness to get brave and vulnerable and ask for help, but it could make such a difference in your life to feel like you have help and aren’t trying to go it alone.
- If you’re married, talk to your spouse about sharing some of the cooking, errands, or housework.
- If you have family nearby, accept any offers for help!
- Swap childcare with a friend — maybe one afternoon you watch her kids so she has the afternoon off and one afternoon she watches your kids so you can work.
5. Stop Comparing
For years, I had tried (and failed) to live up to the image I had created in my head of the perfect wife and mom and business owner I thought I was supposed to be. When I gave that up and realized I was just going to be the best me I could be, there was so much freedom!
- Unsubscribe from any email newsletter or magazine or subscription that doesn’t encourage and inspire you as a work-at-home entrepreneur.
- Remember that you are working from home. Your life is going to look very different from others who aren’t working from home.
- If you are struggling with feeling like you’re not enough and that you don’t measure up, I’d encourage you to seriously consider counseling as there might be some deeper issues at play here.
Know an affordable option for hiring skilled VAs? Leave a comment and let us know! I love hearing about new, budget-friendly ways for new bloggers to grow their business!