Business Advice

My survival tips after three years of running my own business

Women's Agenda /

By Kate Ashmor. 

In many ways, my business has been my third child. I’ve loved (nearly!) every minute of the last three years, working hard and enjoying the fruits of that labour.

And yet regardless of how hard I’ve worked, there are still only 24 hours in each day.

Sleep, family time and exercise remain just as important as they were before.

Working until midnight for days on end, and forgetting to eat lunch, is a recipe for poor health and burnout. It’s led to some important self-care decisions, which I share with you today.

Delegate wherever possible

It was the recent observation of another mum in business, Story Mama’s Debbie Hatswell, that stopped me completely in my tracks.

After listening to me whinge about having no spare time, Deb noted I was finding it easier to outsource the care of my children than aspects of my business. Wow. She was spot on. I’d always worn my micromanager cape as a badge of honour, but in truth it was a rod for my own back.

I now see delegation as a prudent investment, not an expense. Delegation frees up valuable time to focus on tasks that generate revenue and grow my business. A delivery fee is a far wiser choice than the opportunity cost of travel, parking and queueing time. Now I constantly ask myself if the task I am about to do must be done by me. If the answer is no, that task is delegated to a paralegal or outsourced virtual assistant.

Even if I know it will “only take five minutes” to do it, I force myself to stop and let go. Because all those dozens of “five minutes tasks” I’ve been doing everyday add up to hours of time that could be better spent.

It’s not only OK to say no: it’s essential

Client selection is critical for effective risk management, especially in the professional services industry. There is no point taking on work that is far beyond your skillset and resource capability, unless you have a plan to tackle it. There is no benefit taking on a challenging client, who takes you away from all your other clients, especially if your profit model is based on volume.

Whenever I decline to act for a client, I will refer them to a different service provider (not Google). Always be generous and create value in your interactions with people, because even those who won’t become your clients will appreciate your assistance, and will refer other people to you = win-win.

Be brutal with the email newsletters you subscribe to and the people you follow on social media. If they haven’t created any value or meaningful content for you in the last month, unsubscribe and unfollow. I used to love reading publications cover to cover. Now there’s not enough time, so choosing what to read and when is crucial.

And it’s OK to say no to invitations to join boards, or speaking opportunities or even promotions. We physically can’t be in two places at once. Our children will only be babies for a very short time. The decisions you make about how to spend your time are always the correct decisions, regardless of the ignorant judgement of others.

Our lives are complex and multifaceted, filled with opportunities and challenges. Work and career – they’re just aspects of our lives. Delegating, outsourcing and saying no are strategies to ensure our career does not become our identity.

Kate Ashmor runs her own online law firm, Ashmor Legal, focusing on conveyancing, wills and powers of attorney. When she’s not chasing her two young daughters, or tweeting about #noceilings, she serves as Chair of Caulfield Park Bendigo Bank. She’s a Past President of Australian Women Lawyers, but there’s certainly #noboringlawyershere! You can follow Kate on Twitter, on Facebook and Instagram

This piece was originally published by Women’s Agenda. 

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Women's Agenda

Women's Agenda is a publication for career-minded women who want to stay ahead of the conversation.

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