Very often a small business owner falls into the trap of believing, “I am my business and my business is me.” These words may not always be a trap, but if you begin to believe this, it is only a matter of time before everything else in your life takes a back seat. A well-lived life is made up of a variety of things from family and friends to community involvement and hobbies. The single biggest challenge for a small business owner is to keep the business from running you. The key is to find a good work-life balance. Balance will likely look different for each person, but if you don’t find it you will find yourself with a singular life where everything that isn’t tied up in your business has dried up and withered away.
Keeping the vision for why you’re in business at the forefront is a fantastic way to help keep you from being run by your business. When you continually pour that vision into your work, you’ll find it’s much easier to overcome challenges and guide your team as you test each new thing against who you are and why you do what you do.
Remember what is important to your small business
We started Sanborn Canoe Co. because we loved going camping together, and building canoes and paddles. Our team is built from people who love to design and create things, so building and painting paddles are really satisfying. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re doing something you love. This is especially true when you see your hard work paying off. This in and of itself is beautiful. It only becomes a challenge when in your enthusiasm to build and create you neglect other aspects of life. We began as people who love to paddle. We’ve discovered it’s easy to simply be people who build paddles and lose sight of why we build them. It’s important to ask, “Who are we and why?”
We love canoeing, but at the heart of why we love it is the community. So, we’ve designated time to spend on the water as a team. At least once a month, we take a Friday off and go on an adventure. This is good for us in several ways. Spending time together away from work builds friendships and leads to a stronger community at work. It gives us experience using the products we spend each day building, which helps us connect to and relate to our customers more closely. This adds value to the work we do each day. We still have paddles to build and orders to fill, but community is important to us. By purposefully setting aside time to build our community, we pour that vision into what we do.