If you’ve ever wondered… work-life balance? What work-life balance?! Then know that you’re not alone.
The past decade has seen a rise in the ‘hustle’ mentality. The ‘grind till you give out’ pressure to perform. And to be honest, it’s kind of exhausting just to think about.
Yet the truth is that to run a successful pet industry business, it’s essential to establish a work-life balance. It’s the only way you’re going to be able to grow as a business, and not crash out long before you reach your goals.
We know that a small business is almost always born out of three things: passion, persistence and a strong vision of what your future could look like. The dream of an active calendar, heaps of glowing customer reviews, incredibly healthy profits… Of being known as the ‘go-to’ business in your niche… of attracting an engaged and active community who can’t help but rave about your products or services.
And it’s this dream, this vision, which often leads to small business owners – especially in the pet sector – committing to this school of thought that to get anywhere, they’ll have to dig deep and sacrifice to make it work. To never take their foot off the gas, lest an opportunity slip on by.
So you put it into practice, working non-stop to make the dream come true. You face challenges head-on, answer emails at your kid’s swimming practice and skip lunch for that last-minute meeting. You say yes, yes and yes some more.
Slowly, gradually and with a lot of effort – it happens. Orders flow in, the books are balancing out and the customers are happy.
But why doesn’t the dream doesn’t feel like you thought it would?
Why does it actually feel more like a nightmare?
A crammed schedule, overflowing appointment books and barely a moment to breathe. Family time diminishes, your social life is non-existent. You might appear to be galloping ahead to those on the outside, but inside it can feel like more of an increasingly draining doggy paddle.
This way lies burnout – the common side effect of an unbalanced life. It’s the body’s reaction to prolonged stress, and is topped off with mood swings, irritability and a general sense of exhaustion.
Have you been there? Are you there right now? Because if there’s a ring of familiarity to the scenario we’ve just described, then it begs the question…
Experts suggest cultural influence as one of the biggest factors affecting our ability to ‘down tools’ when we need to. Indeed, the Mental Health Foundation cites the pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture as the biggest and most pressing challenge to our mental health. Because, unfortunately, ‘hustling’ and increased working hours have become the norm. A full calendar is now an aspirational goal, busyness a distorted badge of honour.
Technology also has a hand in this. Smartphones mean we carry our work with us everywhere, especially if you are your own company. Your small business now has the ability to bleed into your evenings and weekends – a relatively new phenomenon and one that has, evidently, become increasingly difficult for us to self-police.
Adding to that, in recent months the pet industry has seen significant growth. Across the board sales surged from the onset of global lockdowns, and it shows no sign of letting up. Saying “no” at a time of strong demand can be tough. The inbuilt mechanisms of scarcity, the wish to succeed and automatic acceptance can be a hard one to switch to shift.
Plus, we can’t forget that to work in the pet care industry, or any customer-focused small business, often requires an innate desire to help others. You aspire to make life better for others by providing a great quality of life for them – and their pets! While the motivation and commitment to providing an excellent customer experience are admirable, it sets many entrepreneurs up for myriad work-life balance issues.
With every sign pointing to go, go, go, you might be wondering what’s the benefit in hitting pause? Why should you, when the vast majority will be powering on ahead?
When it comes to your work hours, more isn’t always better.
Studies have, in fact, indicated that working more than the standard amount can be as detrimental to your health as well as it is to your productivity. More hours tends to correlate with higher levels of workplace stress, which can lead to poor cognitive function, low energy and irritability.
In other words, a good work-life balance is essential if you, and your workforce, want to put your best paw forward in business.
Clearly, finding more time for our life outside work is a good thing. But easier said than done, right?
So how do we go about making time for ourselves, as small business owners?
So, perhaps use your new (proper) lunch break to take your dog for that long walk, using this time as a non-pressurised space to think up new strategies for better growth. Use this time to continue dreaming like you used to dream, about how your small business will lead the way to a healthier and happier work-life.
It’s time to learn when to drop the ball. Are you with us?