What is it like starting your own business? I use the analogy of an airplane taxiing down the runway and then opening the throttle to take off. It is unnerving. It takes a lot of effort and you think you’ve built enough momentum, but you’re running out of runway and you have to hold your nerve. It is stressful, liberating, fun, challenging, frustrating, rewarding. It is time and life consuming.
I started my business 4 years ago and I’ve learnt so much. One of the toughest things, when you are building your business, is trying to find a healthy work/life balance. What I’ve found essential has been exercise (I swim most mornings and still do karate), my network (family, friends, clients, associates, other mentors, and mentees), and using available technologies. My particular challenge is that the majority of my clients are busy professionals and they often require my advice in the evenings and at the weekends. I have had to learn to make sure I take time out to rest and play at other times during the week, while having the faith that my business will grow.
In the early part of the year I arranged a series of my workshops around the country to coincide with Hope and Social’s Feel Tour. I would run a session for a chambers or circuit and then turn up to one of their gigs. That is the sort of work/life balance I’m aiming for – working hard and making time for some fun. They’re touring again this autumn and so I’m updating my workshop and hope to be on the road again!
I also found myself facing a dilemma about holidays. A couple of years ago, at a critical stage in my business, we were in Mellon Udrigle on the west coast of Scotland and it coincided with Circuit Judgeselection days. At that time work was a greater priority than my holiday. I decided to restrict my working to a couple of hours in the morning end evening to coach candidates via Skype, FaceTime or phone. It was a good call – some great work that has led to many recommendations and a holiday I felt I actually “deserved”.
As my business has continued to grow, we’ve had some great holidays, and I’ve worked or at least been on call for all of them – even when we went to see Bruce Springsteen at Circus Maximus! But I know my business has really taken off now and despite a number of clients wanting my advice I’m taking a break. So I’m off to learn how to clap in time, and won’t be responding to any messages or calls for a dozen days.