Elizabeth Stone: Finding work life balance as an entrepreneur or small business owner
Elizabeth Stone is an entrepreneur and business woman passionate about making a positive impact by pointing her businesses towards social enterprising. She is a Rhode Island native with about ten years of experience working with small businesses and people to help them grow and flourish. She is deeply involved in the Rhode Island community and regularly volunteers her time to nonprofits around the region. This year she won the overall award for the Rhode Island Business Plan competition with BI Medical. She has also started BioSci Labs, an incubator, and coworking space. BioSci Labs helps to develop innovative technologies into commercially recognizable products ready to be brought to market. She has started Pepper's Closet, a social enterprise committed to spreading ocean literacy and cleanup effort through custom crafted apparel. Pepper's Closet donates 10 percent of all profits to conservation and cleanup efforts.
As an entrepreneur and small business owner I understand just how hard it can be to find a reasonable work-life balance. Between meetings, actually doing work, networking, teaching classes and all the administrative tasks associated with running a business, how can there be time for our family and ourselves.
First off, to be an entrepreneur, you need to love what you do because it certainly won't be easy. I really put my heart and soul into the projects that I start and if I weren’t passionate about them, I would get burned out really fast. Right now my main projects are BioSci Labs and Pepper’s Closet. Bringing innovative products to market to improve healthcare and helping to improve the ocean - what’s not to love? As much as I do love my job, finding a work-life balance is paramount. I am a better and more creative worker and a more patient and supportive wife/momma when I can find the right balance. I am far from perfect but here are a few tips and tricks that have helped me balance business and pleasure.
Here are five things that help me:
- Time Management - Set attainable goals. In a world were productivity is so often defined as multitasking, sometimes you have to focus on a single task and complete one action item. I like to start out my day with a fast item that I can complete to get myself on a role. As much as I like to answer emails while on conference calls, sometimes its better to shut my phone off, minimize the emails, and get just one thing all the way done.
- Scheduling – This goes hand I hand with time management. My Google calendar is my BEST FRIEND! I schedule everything - work outs, play dates, dates with my husband, work meetings, swim lesson, music class, etc. Planning my week ahead allows me to find help on the days I need it whether it’s from my brother, husband, mom or friends. Owning my own business gives me the freedom and flexibility to take my daughter to swim and music class during the day, but in return I am usually working nights after she goes to bed. Like the old saying goes, 'owning your own business means you get to pick which 80 hours a week you work.'
- Communication - Being honest with yourself and others about what you can and can’t do. Do not be afraid to say no or ask for help. It is far better to be honest and say no instead of making commitments you end up shirking… or handing in projects way past the deadline. This one is especially difficult for me because I am always trying to please everyone.
- Outsourcing & Delegating - I outsource and delegate as many tasks as I reasonably can, both at home and work. As a small business owner this is sometimes very hard to do. It is important to let go of complete control of doing it yourself and trust others with tasks. I use Sunbasket and Amazon in lieu of grocery store and Target runs (though somehow I still find myself wandering around target). I share household tasks with my husband and daughter. Lately, I’ve been thinking about strapping Swiffer pads to Pepper’s feet while she runs around the house! Go, Pepper, Go!
- Self care- There will always be more work to do. It is important to take time for yourself every day, even if its only 30 min a day. My outlet is exercise. A walk during lunch (leave your phone off), yoga in the morning, a run after work. We all have 30 min a day we can dedicate to ourselves.
No matter how hard I try and schedule and plan sometimes things don’t go the way I want (especially with a toddler), so my advice to myself and everyone else is LET IT GO and go with the flow.
If you’d like to learn more about our friend and mompreneur, check out some of her other guest blogs: