Posted on 7 March, 2018  |  3 min

With Women's History Month and International Women's Day (March 8) upon us this month, we're celebrating female entrepreneurship and the amazing things women are doing in business. This guest blog post is from Debra Penrice. Debra provides marketing support for small businesses by developing case studies, copywriting, newsletter articles, e-books and press releases.

Work/life balance means different things to different people. What you’re willing to compromise early in your career may change as you become a business owner and build stronger ties to your community.

However, I don’t believe age or location are the defining factors in work/life balance. Regardless of career stage, many of us simply want more time to enjoy the things we love. It’s often the reason people start their own business—to do what they love! But so often, business leaders find themselves totally consumed by running the business, selling, marketing and managing delivery. They don’t have time for ‘the doing,’ let alone time to enjoy their personal life. How is it possible for business owners to find a balance?

Through networking groups, ringing my clients’ customers and working in marketing, I’ve talked to many amazing leaders. From conversations with them and with my own business coach, here are some of my favourite tips to tackle the overwhelm and find more fun:

Build your confidence

Low self-confidence tends to affect female business owners more than male directors. Confidence affects our ability to say no. To avoid overload and overworking, you have to be ok turning down some requests. A lack of confidence can also hit your sales and pricing—and can affect your mindset for learning new skills.

As a business owner, you’re already doing one of the most challenging things—running a business! Look at what you’ve accomplished in your business and know that you’re working from a place of strength, not of weakness.

When you can look at measurable evidence, it helps to combat the dreaded imposter syndrome (which can lead to neverending overworking) and helps you build confidence by positively recognising your accomplishments.

Set goals for the work/life balance you want

My business coach helped me realise that my work/life balance depends on setting clear goals—both for my business and my life. Whether you’re nurturing a future multi-million enterprise or happily running a small- or medium-sized business, setting measurable goals that you can break into step-by-step processes will help you plan your time.

For me, a default diary has helped allocate slots each week for critical activities in my business and personal life. Then, you can realistically follow through with meeting your cash flow, staffing, and sales and marketing goals.

Use apps to save time

A high-street shop or online retail business thrives on convenience-buying culture. But you’re only human, so you’ll need breaks and time off. Even a lifestyle business is super time-consuming if you’re using manual processes, duplicating data entry and tasks. To combat this, you’ll need to take advantage of automation to help run the more admin-intensive aspects of your business. Investing in apps is one of the few ways that you can literally buy yourself time.

I love being able to use apps anywhere—with accounting software for all my money needs, Google Analytics to see my website stats, and of course, social media tools to connect with clients. No matter where I am, I can connect to my business from my mobile, and this convenience is a huge stress reliever.

Focus on the wins

In my role writing business case studies, I see how important it is to celebrate the positive. When you do a good job for your customers, it’s rewarding for everyone. Share success stories—even small wins—and highlight the whole team’s efforts.

If you’re a sole trader, start a journal to record things that go well, what you’re grateful for and lessons learned in your business. A dose of positivity helps enormously to bring back the balance, especially when you’re working hard.

Find inspiring mentors

One final thought: to create a better work/life balance as a business owner, you’ll need help along the way. When you hit new challenges, you’ll need to seek out subject-matter experts to save time.

Find people who inspire you. They may be suppliers or business people in a networking group. Or for consistent support, hire a professional business coach. Their skills help you re-frame any obstacles and focus on your next positive steps forward.