Podcast show notes-Episode 3- Your Questions AnsweredApr 21, 2022
Welcome to the MUBO podcast, a podcast for mums who are building a business around kids and a busy life. I'm your host Ceri Gillet. I'm an entrepreneur, mum of Fred and I'm a founder and CEO of MUBO a non profit organisation that helps mums start and grow brilliant businesses. In episode 3 of the podcast I'm going to be answering your questions, so let's dive into today's episode.
Hello, and welcome to episode three of the MUBO podcast, we've decided to switch things up and do things a little bit different today. We get lots of business questions over on our Instagram page, do you follow us on instagram? Do you? If you don’t follow us, then you can find us @wearemubo you should give us a follow and then you can ask your own questions. Anyway, we thought we would start answering some of those questions here on the podcast, because you might have been thinking similar things. Today is the first of our Q&A episodes, and were going to be answering a question from the lovely Hannah of Dragon Painter - Dragon Painter is a subscription box service for the wonderful world of mini’s, if you want to find out more about Hannah’s work and see her products please check out her Instagram @dragonpainter2020. Now the question Hannah asked …
“Is it possible to have a work/ life balance when running your own business”
Well, Hannah. Yes. I think it is possible, but I'm going to ask you some other questions before I dive into a few of my own tips.
Do you think balance really exists? Do you think balance is a normal thing to be striving for?
I'm not so sure it is, and I'm going to tell you why. I've been asked this a lot at different events over the years and we all seem to be striving for work/ life balance but I don't know about you, I don't actually think we are capable of getting balance. I dont think I'm capable of getting balance, and I don’t think that's any bad thing. I’m going for more of a blend, because I don't think balance exists. I think in your life things at home are going to need you, they're really hungry and they need your attention, when that happens you have to take your foot off the gas with your business or your work. Your priority is your home life. So I like to view instead of this vision of ‘balance’ I look at it more like seesaw in a kids park. When more of your effort goes into things at home, less of your effort goes into things at work, and the seesaw tips and sometimes work is really demanding or the business really needs you and all of your effort goes there and it tips the other way. The thing to remember is you are always capable of tipping it and changing where the weight goes- does that make sense? I'm never really sure if what I'm saying makes sense, but we're still saying it.
So I don't particularly go for balance, I haven't got that one. I go for a blend. I think we can all get some resemblance of spending a good amount of time at work or at home but, crucially we have to do something in order for that to happen. That’s what i'm going to dive into.
I think what goes along with this question is in order to get the ‘work/ life blend’ that you want, you need to decide what you want for your work and your life. I talk to so many women through coaching and through MUBO who haven't really thought about how they want to work. Like, have you ever asked yourself, how you want to work? How do you want to live? Because I hadn't really, probably until the pandemic. I believe that we all, especially in business. You set up a business for a reason, you wanted to work for yourself, you wanted to be your own boss. You have to do that in all areas- YOU NEED TO BE THE BOSS OF YOUR OWN LIFE- that sounds super cheesy. Take it into your own hands, you get to be the architect of your own life now, you get to decide how you want to work. You get to decide how many hours you want to work, when you want to work, how you want to work. You get to that for your job, but you also get to do that for your outside time. How do you want your family time to look? What do you want your weekends to look like? Your evenings? Your holidays? I had never really looked at how I wanted to work, until the last couple of years, and I realised that I wanted a few things. I wanted to work out of the house- because I feel it makes me more productive. I wanted to mainly work school hours. I wanted to take ALL the school holidays off, including having the majority of the summer holidays off, that's the six week holiday if you're in the UK. I wanted to have a good four weeks of that holiday off, and that's the decision as the owner of my business, and as a self employed woman that’s what I get to do. So, in being the architect of my life I was then able to go and look at how I built the business around that. You have to ask yourself, what do you want from work and what do you want from outside of work? Then you can move towards that. In order to work towards that, you’re going to need my second little tip..
Boundaries if you don't have boundaries in your life, you're never going to be able to blend and get to that place you want inside of work and outside of work, getting that balance. It's really important that you have boundaries, and that you start enforcing them. So start thinking about in order to get to the way you want your life to look- what boundaries do you need to put in place. Where are some areas where you always seem to be losing a lot of time? Or areas that seem to be causing you more stress than others? As a woman who had zero boundaries, I highly recommend that you put some in place, because my business has actually changed in the last couple of years. It really has. But deciding what I wanted was a huge part of that, and boundaries were also a massive part of that because I was or am a people pleaser. I don't want to say no to anyone, so I say yes to a lot of things and then I don't get to be that architect of my life because it's really difficult for me to find the time to do things that I want to do or work in the way I want to work, because i'm always putting everyone else infront of me. So I really needed to set some boundaries particularly around work, and here's a key thing for you. You might find when you’re in the early stages of starting your business people might not take you seriously, but mate- YOU have got to take yourself seriously from day one, and boundaries help you do that. If I could go back and give myself one piece of advice it would be “to take my shit seriously’ from the minute I started. As much as I took it seriously in my head, I allowed other people around me to really push the boundaries and mean that I didn't grow the business that I wanted to grow in those first few years because I wouldn't ask for help. This is going to come up a little bit later in the podcast, I wouldn't ask for help, I wouldn't ask for time to do my work. I very much would make sure that everyone else was ok, and then if there was anything left over, that was time for me. But that’s not fair, and if you want to grow the business that you want to grow and live the life that you want to live, you have to take yourself seriously, prioritise yourself, and put those boundaries in place. Decide what you want and go for it! You cannot do that if you don't have boundaries in your life. Its really important.
The final thing I think is really good when you’re thinking about balance when you’re thinking about your work and life is Delegating and Asking for Help!
It's not that I don't think you can’t do it all, because there are lots of amazing women doing it all but you need to ask yourself- why you want to do it all? Because I was trying to do it all but I really didn't want to do it all, I had no interest in doing it all. I will gladly say this to you, no it is not for me! I want help, I just really didn't know how to ask for help, because I had never done it. I was brought up by a woman who never asked for help, and she was brought up by a woman who never asked for help, so there was this cycle going on of we all just get on with our stuff, and sometimes things get hard and we get our heads down. We work. We don't winge. I was very much that person, particularly in my journey as a mum, I would try and do everything. I would do every bedtime, every early morning, keep the house tidy, the list goes on- blah blah blah. Baby groups, run a business, grow this business, be there for my partner, be there for his business and it was EXHAUSTING!
So I think the pandemic was a good twist for this, because the business grew quite a lot for me in this time. When we were coming out of it, last year. I've had to make a lot of changes. They include things like, having help in my house, getting a cleaner, having the cleaner do things like change the beds- my cleaners business is amazing, she is like the best person! In the world! Having her come to the house, and know that's taken care of saves my life, having her change the beds, what a joy! Coming home, having a shower and getting into a clean bed and not having to worry about doing that myself is absolutely amazing. Stuff like, Gousto or Hello Fresh, doing the online shopping makes my life so much easier.
Actually speaking to my partner and telling him what I need, in order to be able to work. Sorry James if you ever listen to this, but this was something that was really difficult for us for a long time. We’re both quite career driven, and in my head I always think it's like two rams locking horns, we're both fighting over whose work is the most important. Therefore, who gets the time to go and do it? It isn't like that now and we've found a way to get through it. It's quite often difficult for me to ask him to come and do something, instead of just sitting there and thinking he should know what I need. I think a lot of women might resonate with this! I would rather sit there and be fuming, that he hasn't been able to read my mind and do exactly what I need him to do, than actually tell him what I need him to do. Which is ridiculous when you think about it. I've now got a lot better at saying, we need to put things in place so that my work is covered, we need additional childcare support, I need you to do more school run pick ups, I need you to do the football club run every Wednesday. I didnt ever do that before, and I mean we've still got a way to go, i’ll admit to it but that communication has really helped.
Also, planning ahead and delegating to other people and asking for their support because things are coming up- so I know I've got a really busy few months in the business, up until the summer. There are occasions where James has got work and I have got really busy weeks and work, where I've had to rope in help from my sister and other family members. I’ve had to block out time where we're going to be having time off together because I know it's going to be chaotic. You’ve got to ask for help, and trust me, I'm going to be delegating more. As MUBO has got a team which is growing now, and that's scary but learning those skills around delegating is going to help me grow the business ultimately. Best you believe friends, that i'm going to be coming back on this podcast and telling you all the things that I implement in order to delegate more. I think it is so important to get help, if you can get it. I know there are going to be people listening thinking, “well that's great if you can afford to delegate but I can’t” but I have been there. There have been many times in my life where I have not been able to delegate, for financial reasons. So there are ways of getting around that. Make friends with other business owners, get into business groups, there are lots of groups where people barter for their services, as existing friends to help you, ask your partner for more support, as parents or friends if you can for help with childcare. Whatever it takes, if there is something you need, make sure you ask for it. There is always a way you’ve just got to find it.
The thing I touched, if you’re looking for balance, I touched on it slightly earlier is downtime is so so important! So many of us in business have business brains. I don’t know about yours, but my business brain is on all the time. So, it's really difficult for me to switch off, quieten down, and feel like I've had time away from work. Because I love what I do, I love work, I don't particularly want to have time away from work BUT I do want to have important time with my family. Also, not just time with my family, scrap that because that's really important, but I need to have time for myself. I love having time for myself. Downtime is really important, i pretty much do it everyday, i never did before. I now make sure I am not working on weekends, I never did that before. I know make sure we have scheduled holidays, never did that before. Think of the small ways you can do that for yourself, go for a walk during school or nap time. If it's watching trashy television after everyone has gone to bed, do that. Make sure you're doing something just for you outside of business. I know the business is for you, I used to say that “the business was the place where I went to find myself’ but you still have to have some rest and relaxation from it. Take it from the woman who is the workaholic. Taking some downtime will do you good.
So I suppose those are four ways I feel I am able to enjoy much more of a blend in my work life these days, so I hope that some of those may have resonated with you or may help you, and Hannah I hope that answered your question.
If you're sitting listening to this and think you have a question you would like to have answered on the podcast, simply go to our instagram profile @wearemubo and send us a DM, we may answer it on a future episode and give your brilliant business a shout out in the process.