Today I want to address that subject that often rears its ugly head in Business, Work Life Balance! Work life balance is a hard subject to perfect, if you are employed or self-employed! Our lives are so busy these days, we fill every minute with one thing or another! it’s often hard to take stock and re asses our lives and how we live them! So today I wanted to look at the role of a self-employed person. These areas can be rolled out to employed people as well so do read on!
Taking on Less Work
Now this may sound like a strange concept, surely if you’re self-employed you need to take on every job that is offered to you? Wrong! And yes I learnt the hard way. In my first couple of years of working as a wedding and event planner all I wanted to do was get work and prove to people that I could do the job. This of course is only natural, all you want to do is get your first bit of work in and get paid for it. Doing a good job for people obviously leads onto referrals with other people and in turn more work.
So off I went on my merry way booking up every weekend I had free. By my 2nd year of wedding planning I had 20 weddings to take on in one season and any other planner’s out there will know what a large number that is. What I hadn’t done though was really work out my true value and price myself accordingly. Again this is only natural in your first year or two in business. I also worked out a deal with some venues where I worked at a discounted rate, but I did it at nearly half my normal price, what seemed like a good idea at the time, actually wasn’t!
By the end of the season I was dead on my feet, yes I had got a huge amount of experience, which then led on to me getting more bookings the following year, BUT because I had offered a lot of the work out at a discount I hadn’t made half as much money as I should have done.
Basically I didn’t value my worth; I hadn’t factored in how much my hourly rate was and stuck to it.
So what did I do? I sat down and did some new calculations, which in turn led me to put my prices up. I figured if I could get paid more for each job I took on I wouldn’t have to do as many jobs and be able to give each of my customers a much better service! I’d have more time and my customers would be happier.
At first putting my prices up was really scary, I was worried that no one would book me. But you know what, people still booked and because I knew I was taking on fewer bookings I could then in turn be a bit more selective about the type of work I actually took on!
I found myself in a much better position, I wasn’t scrabbling round for every last bit for work, I was sitting back and really thinking about the type of work I wanted and what was right for the Boho brand.
From here, I carried out regular price checks and made sure my prices went up the more experience I had.
I am now in a place where I feel my pricing is reflective of my experience. I don’t give discounts and if people ask for one, I explain that they are paying for a service and if they pay less for that service, they get less of a service in return!
So this leads me onto my 2nd Point
Not feeling guilty for taking time off!
Once you have your pricing right, you will find that you have two choices 1) work as much as you did at the beginning of your career but earn loads more money, or 2) decide on the wage you want to set yourself and give yourself more time off.
What I have learnt over the past 5 years is that you don’t have to work 24/7 to prove you are a success. I used to look at people who worked every hour and see them as business people I looked up to. I have always been a hard worker, always held down more than one job at a time and never slacked……..BUT over the past few months my views have changed.
I now look up to those people who manage their business but still take time away from it, they are the people who have sussed the work life balance! Success shouldn’t be measured by the amount of hours you work, but what you do with those hours when you are at work.
You shouldn’t feel judged if you decide to take a weekend off and spend it with your family or friends, or if you decide to take a day off in the week to go shopping. The flexibility you get from being self-employed is one of the benefits against working a normal 9-5. Yes there may be days when you are in the office till 9pm but there should be other days when you don’t start till lunch time! And no one should make you feel guilty about that, especially yourself.
Personally I have gone from working around 100 hours a week, down to 70. I have now taken on an assistant which means slowly but surely my hours will get down to a more reasonable 40 a week (lets hope that happens bweore the baby arrives!) This doesn’t mean I am working any less efficiently, it just means I am more productive in those hours I set myself and it also means I get more time to do things I love.
Yes I still love my job but it isn’t my complete life, it doesn’t define who I am, and I will never let it be. When I turn my computer off and take a day off I don’t spend my time off thinking about work, I switch off and enjoy myself. Does that make me love my job any less, does it make me any less devoted to Boho, no of course it doesn’t, it just means that I also appreciate those other things around me, my husband, my friends and family, my hobbies.
After 5 years in business I have learnt how important the things around me really are. Life isn’t all about work and how many hours you can do in a day. Life is for living, for enjoying. By being true to yourself and really valuing your own worth, you can take on more of the jobs you love and turn down the jobs you don’t, which in turn will free up your time and give you more of your life back.
I’d love to hear your thoughts? What stage of your business are you? Are you at a point when you are working all the hours, or have you managed to figure out your work life balance? Do you have any tips for other people trying to do the same?