The particular mixture of excitement, stress, and all out joy of owning a small business is hard to describe to outsiders, and yet felt to some degree by all local business owners. From early starts to working through the night, the thrills of developing a product and getting it to the market can be indescribable.
And however different one business might be from another, some aspects of running your own business remain the same. To illustrate our point, we spoke to a few different entrepreneurs to get an inside look at the day-to-day life of a small business owner and, not surprisingly, they all faced similar management struggles.
So if you think you’re the only one with a certain problem and are unsure how to proceed, check out our ‘day in the life’ for firsthand accounts from entrepreneurs just like you on what it’s like to own your own business.
How Do You Start The Day?
Coffee, of course!
Seriously, I can’t live without my caffeine. Once the kids are off to school, it’s time for my fix.
- Christina Smith, Closet Candy Boutique
When you run a home-based business, like local dog treat bakery Happy Tails Barkery, the home and work aspects of the day can become meshed together, and a certain degree of routine is needed to maintain productivity.
I get up anywhere between 4:30 and 5:00 am, have a couple cups of coffee and check emails on my smartphone (if I sit in front of my computer, I’m done!). I walk my pooches, and when we get back, I prep for baking and packaging online orders.
- Holly Pace, Happy Tails Barkery
How Do You Create A Good Work/Life Balance?
One of the common struggles when you own your own business is the assault it lays to your personal life. From dawn to dusk, it can feel as if your life is consumed with the business, turning ‘a day in the life’ into ‘what life?’
And when your business is also your livelihood, it’s hard to argue against putting all of your energy into it. How do actual business owners feel they handle the work/life balance?
I’m not so sure I do yet. I’m still figuring all this out. My son is my priority so I will call in my wonderful employee, Felicia, when Riley has a baseball game or conference. But I generally work at home on my computer before I come to the store and I work until late at night at home on my computer. My husband has started cooking more and we go out to eat a lot, always making local establishments our priority!
- Kim Kendall, Clothes Minded
Really, we should be better about this, but I think any successful entrepreneur will tell you that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to grow your brand. Our kids are part of the team; they have their own lounge at the office where they can do homework and watch movies if we have to pull a late night.
- Christina Smith, Closet Candy Boutique
Routine? What Routine?
Although it can feel like you play a new game every day when you own your own business, all entrepreneurs seem to have a somewhat standard routine, however loosely it may be followed.
I am not a list-maker, I keep it all in my head. I handle incoming orders first thing every morning when I open. I don’t order a lot of any one item, so it’s important for me to keep track of my inventory. I also have to make the adjustment on my online site, so it is a continuous process of monitoring.
For some, their online business is in addition to a full-time job elsewhere, which can create unique challenges when trying to deliver attentive customer service.
I have a totally separate career, but I work on my business 7 days a week, and I do something different each day. I perform better with a varied schedule.
- Leah Williams, Ruby Mae Jewelry
Listening To Customers
While the daily demands never let up, remaining flexible and seeking out customer feedback is always top of mind for small business owners.
We send out hundreds of orders every day and we receive new pieces and restocks five days a week! So we are always busy processing and sending out orders Monday through Friday, plus checking in on all of the new shipments and planning for photo shoots, styling looks and editing photos, and of course picking out new pieces! There is always so much to do!
I am extremely OCD, so I like having processes in place, but my analytical side is always adjusting and changing things to help us operate and perform better. We listen to staff and customer feedback and make changes whenever needed.
When The Going Gets Tough, How Do You Continue On?
Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart, and it can be hard for even the toughest small business owner to overcome setbacks. Some find inspiration from successful business leaders, others repeat a mantra for inner peace over and over. How do these small business owners stay positive?
Actually, I love what I do so much I don’t consider it working at all. I am blessed and fortunate to be able to do what I’ve always dreamed of!
I love being able to do what I love! It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve found out many things I’m not good at and many things I have to learn.
The first few years you work as much as possible, the end goal being to enjoy the fruits of your labor down the road. It’s great being able to work the schedule I want. I may work a lot, but I make time to go to the kids school functions, the gym or even an occasional afternoon movie!
So What’s The Lesson?
It’s just as we suspected: being a small business owner is challenging, exciting, and incredibly rewarding!
So no matter what type of business you own, and whether you work from home or have a physical store, there are others who are dealing with the same obstacles you are. And we can’t think of a better way to deal with difficulties than to learn from the lessons of others, and share your stories with them. So don’t be afraid to reach out and make a connection – chances are you’ll have a lot to talk about!