Being a business owner really makes you learn how to balance your everyday life, not only to complete each job from start to finish, but more importantly, to maintain your sanity. When I first started PaperDolls, I was working full time in Newport News (hello commute), and trying to network my booty off in order to "get my foot in the door", all while trying to stay on top of current orders, meetings, and did I mention I got married that year? This was really all before I had any clue as to whattttttt the heck I was doing. I was staying afloat, but as a "business woman", I truly did not know the first thing about anything. I think you lean that in time, once you've been exposed to it for a good while. After 2 years of piddling around, I finally said "alright lets do this" and within a year, I quit my full-time "day job" to take that leap of faith -- self-employment. I can tell you right now that it would not have been possible without a few "connections" that helped me tremendously, in addition to a super supportive husband. Fast forward two years later, and I decide to throw a baby in the mix! I've always wanted to be a momma, but I don't think I ever understood exactly what it meant. I was fond of the idea and had always been drawn to the baby section of stores, and had heard that "you'll never sleep again" and "you're responsible for another human for 18 years" etc. but it took having one to fully understand any of that. I never imagined that I would be a stay-at-home working momma, and feel very fortunate that I'm able to do that. It was something that I had thought of and often worried about when I was working at my old full-time job. I would hear my coworkers talking about having to leave their babies after maternity leave, or just on a daily basis, and I always thought "well that would suck", and then pair it with the cost of day-care and I wondered if my job even made since. But in the hustle and bustle of everything, I never thought I would be able to stay home with my own children. Having seen both ends of the spectrum, I can say neither are easy. I think when you work full-time and can't be with your child, you probably want nothing more than to be able to stay at home with them, but let me telllllll you. It is hard. I definitely still feel so very lucky, and I wouldn't have it any other way, but it is so so hard. I thought it was next to impossible to balance things BC(before child) with a blooming business. I even thought I had it bad when I was operating on 2 hours of sleep in the newborn days, but I was still able to get through my busy season without any childcare. And now, at 9.5 months old, while I'm sitting here typing and he is in his walker playing with the trash can, I can say I had it made before. And the funniest thing is that I will look back on this stage in a few months, when he's actually mobile, and laugh at this. But my point to all of this, is that now I have HELP :) :) :) Starting this year, my husband and I agreed that its time for a part-time sitter. So now that I have a sitter coming for ~20 hours a week, I can breathe again and delve into the 2015 wedding season.
This is what I've learned so far in balancing business, pleasure, your homelife, and really the simplest day to day tasks:
1. GET HELP - Seriously. I've learned that I just can't do it all. I'm amazing at time management, lightening-speed quick with design work, and when friends come over, they're like "um really? How do you do it?". Girls girls girls. Lets be honest. I just ransacked this joint 10 minutes before you got here to make it semi-acceptable to look at. And I'm quick on the computer because I've been doing it nonstop for 12 years. BUT once you're married, that adds a lot to your plate, just having to be considerate of someone else 24/7 and playing the "housewife" role, which is not all that its cracked up to be for those of us that aren't Betty Crocker. So running a business, cleaning the house, cooking for your spouse, making time to hang out with your spouse at night and on the weekends, walking the dog, etc. all starts to pile up. BC(before child), I was able to handle most of it, but after a year of being a full-time business owner, I had to ask for help. I have two assistants that help me with business tasks like writing blogs, responding to emails, creating invoices, and one of them actually helps me with the design workload. Her design aesthetic is awesome and I love her work, even more than my own. So that was the first step in divvying up some of my workload. After having Jackson, obviously it became even more intense. In addition to everything else, it actually seemed almost impossible. Thats when the sitter comes in :)
2. Ask for advice - Use your resources!! Especially in the wedding industry, everyone is so supportive of everyone else, and most vendors become friends! Ask who, what, where, when why. For real. They've been there and they will give you their honest opinion. They're the ones that told me to get help when I was trying to do everything by myself!
3. Don't be afraid to make mistakes - Ya'll, I lost a lot of $$$ that first year in business. Its just part of the learning process. I've made countless typos (who needs spellcheck right? me apparently), ordered the wrong materials, I was burned a few times, and there were times that I thought I had failed. But it was definitely a learning process, and I learned from those mistakes, and they made my business better!
4. Don't forget about "me"/family time - You're not doing anyone any good if you're completely stressed out all the time, and can't even make time for yourself (or significant other/family). Be sure to take a day to yourself here and there, reward yourself for all of your hard work, and make plenty of time for your family. I used to take appointments at any time (after 5pm, on the weekends, etc.) and now I limit them to M-F, 8-5. I will of course make exceptions here and there, but most people will work around your schedule if they're really interested in booking you. Also, when you work from home, its very easy to find yourself working until 10pm. You've got to be very self-disclipined and know when to call it quits for the day. Pull yourself away from the computer, and make time for you family. I've learned that crock pot recipes are a business owners best friend :) I try to have dinner ready for my hubby when he comes home because he works really hard for our family.. I succeed at this less than half of the time, but I really do try! Also, at the end of the day, I always try to have an hour to myself to just unwind. I think it helps me tremendously to just sit back, reflect on the day, prepare myself for tomorrow, and watch mindless tv for a little while(oh, and a glass of wine).
5. Enjoy every minute - Even when you're at your wits end with a screaming child, the deadline that has not been met and the dinner that is burning in the oven, try to find light in it all and just enjoy. These moments won't last forever, especially with your little ones. It breaks my heart to watch Jackson grow, as selfish as that sounds. I look back and regret not cherishing more of our moments together. I find myself focusing on the negative much of the time and I'm really trying to be more positive with everything, because now I see how quickly time can go. At the end of the day, I want to look back and know that I made the most of every minute.