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Small Business Spotlight, Women in Business

Work-Life Balance Tips for Women Entrepreneurs: Part 2

work-life balance for women

Do you ever feel a bit overwhelmed by the competing demands of running your business while still having a fun, fulfilling life and family away from the office? Women small business owners often face particular challenges – and bring unique resourcefulness and perspective – on the topic of work-life balance tips.

This is the second part of a two-part series of articles on how women small business owners think about work-life balance and how a full-time working mom can achieve bliss. Read Part 1 here.

Elizabeth Ricci, Esq., Managing Partner, Rambana & Ricci, PLLC on Work-Life Balance for Women

Rambana & Ricci, PLLC is a full-service, multi-lingual immigration law firm based in Tallahassee, Florida, focused on complex litigation and administrative immigration issues.

What is your overall attitude toward work-life balance for business owners? Is such a thing even possible? Do we need to re-think the concept of work-life balance?

Work-life balance is difficult but achievable. From my perspective, I hope my children know that mothers can be business owners, community leaders, and good parents. My six year old asked me just this morning, “why do boys think girls can’t do some things?” I told her that one day they’d find out that girls do more things than boys and that boys rely on girls more than girls rely on boys! I want to teach my girls that a woman has tremendous value in her family and the community.

I think being a business owner actually allows me to do more for my child than if I worked for someone else. For example, I am able to manage my own calendar and take time to attend events at school like recitals, leave early to help with projects, or even host a party (which I’m doing for 45 first graders on Halloween!). I could not ask a boss for time off to do those things.

What is your biggest challenge with work-life balance?

Not having enough energy. Ideally I’d like to get up at 5:30 to exercise but most of the time that does not happen. I’m tired so I don’t exercise. I don’t exercise so I’m tired.

How does today’s technology (smartphones, social media, etc.) make it easier – or harder – to achieve work-life balance?

It is easier to deal with client emergencies, but it is also easier to ignore family after hours. When my fourth grade daughter recently had her iPad taken away at school for texting during class, I decided I would not check office email or text the entire weekend. I also unplugged the televisions. (My husband was out of town.) That Friday we went on a nature walk to a lake in our neighborhood. We brought with us a Girl Scout nature scavenger hunt I printed at the office. We found the items along the way and answered questions about the environment. When we got home, we took a survey that went with the hunt. I told my daughters that they earned a scouting fun patch. (Which I delivered and sewed on their uniforms.) They did not ask to watch TV or for the iPad once. In fact, my oldest said it was “the best night ever” and asked if we could do more activities like that.

I check my email and phone so much I wonder what it is I think I’m going to see sometimes. It’s not like I’m waiting on news of whether I’ve sealed a huge deal. I know the messages can wait. The ease and excitement of potential big news, however, makes it hard to stay away. But when my kids want to spend extra time with me without those devices, I know the devices are not necessary 24/7.

Do you think women entrepreneurs face special challenges or unfair challenges re: work-life balance, and how can we change our society to make life easier for them?

Yes. Clients, even if they do not have an emergency, expect immediate replies because they know that the technology exists.

If you have a good work-life balance, how do you know? How does it feel? 

I know I have a good work-life balance because I am involved in my kids’ school and extracurricular activities, I have a great relationship with my husband (with whom I work – he and I are co-partners in our law practice) and I do not feel guilty about my lifestyle. I also know when I’m “in balance” because friends and family compliment me. Having a supportive network is part of what makes it work!

In a way, do you think that women can achieve BETTER work-life balance by starting their own business?

For sure. Even if you’re technically working more hours than you would at a corporate job, it’s better to work harder and longer for something you really love. I get tremendous satisfaction knowing that I am responsible for what I have and what I do for my family, clients, and the community.

Are there any other key insights or words of wisdom you’d like to share?

The balance (or as close to a balance as you can get) is possible. If a woman is considering opening her own business, she needs to know that it involves risk, time, and hard work. But if she already has a job, she’s probably already taking risks, investing time and hard work, but all of that investment is going into someone else’s business. Having a good network of family and friends helps, too. If she can afford help at home, that makes it more doable. I suggest buying prepared meals or having the house cleaned a few times a week if possible.

Follow Elizabeth Ricci on Twitter at @LizIsNeXt

 

Sara-Mai Conway, Co-Founder & COO, Resolute Fitness Shares Her Best Work-Life Balance Tips

work-life balance tips

Resolute Fitness is an indoor cycling and yoga studio based in Austin, Texas, with two more Texas locations (Dallas and Houston) to open soon.

What is your overall attitude toward work-life balance for business owners? Is such a thing even possible? Do we need to re-think the concept of work-life balance?

I think we’re often doing ourselves a disservice when we talk about work-life balance. The concept of “work-life balance” pre-supposes the idea that the two are somehow opposed – that we only find joy in our personal lives, and only find stress in our work. Being a small business owner is a 24-hour job, 7 days a week. Even when I’m not at the studio, I am on call as the person ultimately responsible for everything. Balance doesn’t come from being able to completely detach from my job for a percentage of each day, because I can’t. Balance comes from the joy and happiness I find in being able to do what I love. Work has always been a part of my life, and I see nothing wrong with that. Since when did “work” become a bad thing? If your work is fulfilling and you derive happiness from your success in it, “balance” is not something you worry about.

What is your biggest challenge with work-life balance?

I am constantly thinking about and talking about my business because I love it! It’s difficult for friends and family to understand – especially if they are in a job where they are just “punching the clock.” I have to remind myself that although I love talking about work, not everyone loves hearing about it!

How does today’s technology (smartphones, social media, etc.) make it easier – or harder – to achieve work-life balance?

I’m grateful for technology! Technology enables me to take my dogs on a hike and still be connected to the studio if need be. Technology allows me to go on vacation and remotely monitor daily sales transactions. Some would say that this is a bad thing, that I shouldn’t be thinking about these things in my “off time” – I say it’s all a matter of perspective – being able to check email from anywhere allows me to enjoy my off time more, because I’m not worried about what I’m missing.

Do you think women entrepreneurs face special challenges or unfair challenges re: work-life balance, and how can we change our society to make life easier for them?

I think women entrepreneurs face many challenges that men do not face, such as access to funding, respect as a business leader, etc., but work-life balance is not one of them. If you cannot find work-life balance you either don’t have the right job, or you don’t have the right people in your life.

If you have a good work-life balance, how do you know? How does it feel? 

I know I’m successful because I feel content. I’m happy. Of course there are moments of stress in both work and personal life, but I know I’m successfully balanced when I can flow with the good or bad that happens in either.

In a way, do you think that women can achieve BETTER work-life balance by starting their own business?

YES. Being a business owner means sometimes I can set my own schedule. Unfortunately, it also means that sometimes I’m the one that doesn’t get to take the day off, even if I had other plans. The key thing is, even when I’m working crazy hours, I know I’m ultimately building something that I love. Whether you’re self-employed or not, you have to believe in what you’re spending your time on.

Are there any other key insights or words of wisdom you’d like to share?

Work is not what happens outside of my life. The clock is still ticking on my life, even when I’m working. So if I can be working on something I love, with a fulfilling purpose, I feel balanced no matter how many hours I spend on it.

Follow Resolute Fitness on Twitter at @ResoluteSteiner.

 

Mary Furrie, Owner, Quality Assessments Mystery Shoppers on Work-Life Balance as a Full-Time Working Mom

work-life balance as a full-time working mom

Quality Assessments Mystery Shoppers, based in Rockford, Illinois, offers clients a team of professional mystery shoppers who help companies assess their products and services in order to improve customer satisfaction. Mary Furrie is the owner of this business and is a single mom.

What is your overall attitude toward work-life balance for business owners? Is such a thing even possible? Do we need to re-think the concept of work-life balance? 

As a longtime single career woman, I eventually decided that life for only myself was not good enough. I adopted a child when she was 3 days old and she is now 23 years old. To maintain the best career options without a spouse to allow for job search time, I moved us from Florida to Virginia to Texas. And then, while we were living in Austin, I decided to buy a business and “be on my own.” I moved the business to Illinois so that my daughter could get to know her extended family.

Honestly, there really is less work-life balance if you own a business that is the only source of income for the family (not just extra funds). At the beginning of my journey as a business owner, I did struggle with the fact that you really do have to work every day, at least a little bit, without vacation or sick days. At the beginning, that was difficult to face. At some point, I finally realized that it really is totally OK. I looked back at my father who worked all the time too and never, ever complained about it. I realized that it was OK to work really hard at building this business. The sky was not going to fall.

For the freedom and the excitement of owning your own business it is essential to accept that it is, and will be, a lot of work.

What is your biggest challenge with work-life balance?

The biggest challenge is to try to fit in the “other” things that you think are important. I like being involved in the community, but I can only contribute or participate when time permits. So, I have to be careful not to sign up to be on boards, but I help when I can. This was true when my daughter was younger, too. I could not be as involved as a mother from a two-parent family or the stay at home moms, but I could fit it in in smaller ways. On the whole, running your own business will take up more time than a regular job, and that’s OK.

Do you think women entrepreneurs face special challenges or unfair challenges re: work-life balance, and how can we change our society to make life easier for them?

Yes, but in my case, it was multiplied as a single adoptive parent (without even a divorced spouse who generally shares custody, etc.). The work side, as a business owner, is a lot more flexible but there is a profound lack of understanding on the “life” side as to how much work owning a business really is.

Since you are not as available to reciprocate, you are often in need of help with rides, childcare or some other assistance and other people don’t always seem to understand or offer that kind of help. As more women start to own businesses maybe the “life” side will start to get better; maybe more people will understand that we are not “lazy”, but actually quite busy and could use a hand every
once in awhile with parenting.

If you have a good work-life balance, how do you know? How
does it feel?

I think it is totally about acceptance and attitude. Not in a “victim” way, but realizing that your way of life, even if it gets a little hectic sometimes, is simply unique. And that’s good.

In a way, do you think that women can achieve BETTER work-life balance by starting their own business?

Yes, I can start early, work on the weekends, and get whatever I need done when I want to. It does limit any extended time away from work (that “must work every day” thing) but if you factor that into your plans, it all works out well.

Are there any other key insights or words of wisdom you’d like to share?

If you are feeling isolated, or feeling like your life situation is totally different than others, it’s important to remember that you are not alone! All of these questions of work-life balance for female entrepreneurs are still very new! It’s important to remember that female entrepreneurs are still so new. In previous generations, it was so rare for women to own businesses. We are the first of our kind, and being pioneers can be tough – but it’s worth it!

 

Which work-life balance tips from these interviews are your favorite? How have you achieved better work-life balance in your business? Tweet us at @KabbageInc and let us know!