Women In Business

9 rules to run a business and stay sane

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Yes, life is crazy enough as it is. Home and family, kids and school, work and business — not to mention the pressure we undergo to keep up our networking, grooming, education, skills development, knowledge of current affairs… the list could fill this page. The modern woman is a 21st Century superwoman, for sure. But we have to make sure we don’t go crazy in the process of meeting all those demands!

Allow yourself time and space

This is, in many ways, an update on Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, which is still relevant – and perhaps in this crowded modern life, even more so. Find yourself some time in the day and week when you can focus on yourself – whether it is going for a walk, doing some meditation or even reading a book on the loo with the door locked. Every morning I try to go for a good walk, or if the weather is good, I paddle board on the bay, where I savour the quietness, calmness and there is no talking.

Control your money yourself

Distressingly, even today, many women do not have control over their own money. Most of us share money with our partners and families, but make sure there is some just for you.  Look to build yourself and your business a buffer. It doesn’t need to be a small fortune – start small and then build up. I like to save money for Pilates rather than having to pay for it on credit, while for my business, I want to be able to pay for a good conference or course every year so I can continue to learn. These might sound like small things, but you will need them if you and your business are going to continue to grow.

Set some boundaries

Modern life is 24/7, but only if you let it be. Draw a line between your time and the time you spend on others.  I choose not to get emails on my ‘phone. I turn it to silent most of the time and do not work on the computer after 9pm. Do whatever it takes so you know where your working life and your personal life stop and start. If you have children, they will learn from you, so demonstrate the behaviour you want them to learn.

Pay yourself

A business that cannot pay you is not a business, it is a hobby. Find out what a reasonable salary is, what you need to live on, and pay yourself right from the beginning. Pay yourself less to start with and more when you can, but pay yourself. I choose to keep my monthly pay low(ish), and then pay myself expenses or bonuses when it suits, but work out what works for you.

Have time off

Like paying yourself, you need to have time off. Try and work a normal working week when you can, or if you need to work when others don’t, at least make sure there is some balance. Just because you love what you are doing does not mean you should do it all the time.  Sooner or later the quality will drop or you will stop loving it – so take a break, every hour, every day, every week.  Reading or walking at lunchtime is a good circuit breaker for me.

Book holidays

If you wait until you have time to book holidays they will never happen. Book a holiday, it does not matter how far in advance, but book it, and plan for that time off. You will be more productive when you have a goal on the horizon. I find having a holiday booked in advance, regardless of how far away, helps me stay sane.

Stay fit and healthy

Fitting your oxygen mask before you help others is good advice for life as well as flying. Stay fit and well, or you and then your business will suffer. I consider my walking, paddle boarding and swimming an investment. Without them, my major assets do not perform well!

Look after your relationships

Friends, partner and family are your greatest support – reward them with your time, energy and enthusiasm. With both of us self-employed, and two boys at school who both played competitive sport, time for my husband and I seemed to constantly be in short supply.  So, we agreed what seemed like arbitrary rules for regular date nights, but they have meant there is always time for us to just be together.

Teach everyone to cook and clean

Women are our own worst enemies much of the time. If you are building a business, then sooner or later you are going to have to choose between sheets being ironed and appointments being kept. Getting more efficient at doing it all yourself will not help your partner or children in the long run. I see having two boys who can shop, cook and clean to be one of my major achievements – and their housemates agree! Agree who does which tasks, teach them how to do them, and then reward everyone with your thanks, praise and pizza.

About Vivienne Corcoran

With more than 30 years’ experience in business development and marketing, Vivienne Corcoran has a reputation for strategic and practical communication across a diverse range of sectors including professional services, finance, the arts, and public and community health. Vivienne has facilitated workshops on developing and implementing change for improved results both in Australia and internationally. Her book, Growing Your Professional Practice, has been described as the ‘must have’ manual for professionals. Vivienne is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and the Australian Marketing Institute.

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