This week I threw out my back 20 minutes before I had to get on a live coaching call to a room of 50 Agency Mavericks members. As I barely made it to my computer, I carried out the scheduled coaching call with the members unaware of how much pain I truly was in. I finally made it to my bed to lie down and rest, but couldn’t. I had my boss (myself) screaming at me that this was the day I needed to work on perfecting my support ticket process.
As I attempted to rest, I couldn’t help but reflect on how my husband had thrown out his back two months prior. The major difference: he got paid disability and laid there doing nothing for four days. His boss wasn’t screaming at him.
This got me thinking about the many things that we, as self-employed business owners, all face on a daily basis:
- No vacation time
- No sick leave
- No maternity or family leave
- No disability
- No 9-to-5 work hours
Who do we talk to about this?
Who’s the Boss?
How often we forget that, WE are the boss.
Taking care of yourself is the hardest thing you'll ever do as a business owner. If you're like me, you’ll understand. I can sometimes be the worst boss to work for.
We have to get out of the mindset that we work for our clients. Our clients merely partake in our services; we don’t work for them any more than a boutique or restaurant works for its patrons. We work for ourselves. We set our expectations, our pay, our hours, OUR limits!
I want to be a better boss to myself. But that involves me giving myself a break
7 Demands And Rules to Combat Them
In order to find the best way to improve ourselves as our own bosses, let’s go through seven demands that we set on ourselves. If these requirements were imposed on us in a traditional workplace, we all would have quit a long time ago.
Along with these demands, I highlighted the “rules” I created for myself to avoid demanding too much of myself. These work for me, and to be fully transparent, are still a work in progress.
1. Working on the weekend – But we have to right? Not really. Unless you are running a 24/7 support and you are the support, there is no real reason you should be expected to work on the weekend. A deadline here and there? Sure, that happens–but every weekend? Surely not.
My rule for myself: Work one hour Saturday morning on business development. No client work on the weekend, ever.
2. Unreasonable deadlines – We’ve all had a client say they need something ASAP, or “I needed this website yesterday.” Their inaction to reach out to a website developer or input a request on time does not mean I should squeeze out an unreasonable deadline for myself. Again, they are not my boss. I am.
My rule for myself: Over-quote time.
3. Checking and responding to an email with family in the room – It’s so easy to push a button and check email anywhere these days. Often to see if emergencies have come in or if that client finally responded to your long overdue request.
My rule for myself: Only check email when I’m in a place I can respond. *Currently, not obeying this rule as much as I would like, but I think it’s a great rule.
4. Working on vacation – Maybe there is no way around this one. But seriously, would you ever work for a boss that required you to check in while on vacation?
My rule for myself: (still a work in progress) While on vacation I check email every morning to make sure my team has everything they need for the day. No client work is done on vacation, ever.
5. Working more than 40 hours a week – As website consultants, workflows with projects are often unpredictable, some weeks may require less than 40 and some more than 40. Only you know when you are working too much, and the dream has become tarnished.
My rule for myself: Never open the computer after set work hours.
6. Not getting a pay raise – If you haven’t changed your prices in at least five years, give yourself a dang raise already!
My rule for myself: I’ve raised my prices every two years. (Subsequently, I’ve made more every year, imagine that!)
7. A constantly changing job description – Maybe you are a front-end developer, a designer, SEO expert, social media writer, bookkeeper, and admin assistant all rolled into one! Unfortunately, this doesn't get you a trophy – just a headache. If you wrote out everything you did on a daily basis and presented it to yourself in a job interview, I guarantee you would run away from yourself screaming.
My rule for myself: Never accept work outside of my services. *So hard to follow but everytime I break this, I remember why this rule exists.
It’s a Balance, Set Rules
By forcing these demands into the light, I think we can all begin, to be honest that these are problems we impose on ourselves. Setting rules and sticking to them is the only way you avoid asking more from yourself than you can give.
Let’s be honest, there is a balance to running and growing your own business and suffering from IHMB (I hate my boss) syndrome. Do you know the balance? Are you there? Checking email on weekends, working more than 40 hours, checking in on vacation… all that can feel unavoidable. However, we can work towards understanding the balance.
Achieving the balance is a work in progress. I’ve come a long way, and there’s still more mountain for me to climb. I see the peak, and I’m getting there. I just need to take a deep breath and keep going. I’ve got this, and you do too.