Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Making Health(ier) Choices

Sometimes as a small business owner, you make decisions based on the welfare of your business and not on the welfare of yourself. There is this looming cloud above you that says if you don't pump your body full of caffeine and stay up into the early morning, then you are not a good business person. I have fallen subject to this myth. I sleep very little, I don't eat well, I drink a lot of coffee and energy drinks, and I accept this feeling of constant anxiety. Seems a little silly from the outside looking in, but something has happened. There has been a shift. With the ability to "share everything," we find ourselves doing just that. Facebook, twitter, instagram, blogging, etc. The more you know about my inner workings, the more likely my business is to succeed. Is that true?Will you think I am lazy or ignoring your order if I go to sleep at a decent hour? Will you think I am irresponsible if I don't make it to the post office? Will you share with your followers that it took a little longer for your order to ship? I worry constantly about this. It's time to make the change I need to see in the way I run our business. It may not be the smartest, or the most commonly accepted, but if I want to maintain sanity, I need to make some vows. Here they are.

As a small business owner: 

I vow to make my personal and emotional health a priority over turnaround time.
I vow to not let my feelings get hurt over etsy convos.
I vow to stay true to the integrity of my art and not let impatience force me to rush through an order of 10 or an order of 100. EVERY UNIT COUNTS.
I vow to respond to emails during business hours only, even if that means it takes longer to respond. 
I vow to spend less time proving that I'm working through social media, and do more quality work.
I vow to not check our etsy feedback more than once a day, nor will I allow it to define our business. 
I vow to stop making promises I can't physically keep. 
I vow to take days off. 
I vow to be honest and stop saying yes to everything. It doesn't make me a bad business person to say no sometimes. 
I vow to be kind, even when I am frustrated and overwhelmed by work.
I vow to be a better partner, and respect the boundaries between work and home. 
Lastly, I vow to take breaks, walk the dogs, drink plenty of water, and remember that we are not a giant corporation. We are two people, making good.

We'll see what happens, but I do know it's 10:30pm. I have 2 weeks worth of work to do in 2 days, and I'm going to sleep. I am going to sleep until 6am, And I refuse to feel guilty about that.

What kind of vows would you make when it comes to running your small business?



  1. I don't have a small business,but I can relate to this so much. Thank you. And sleep well. ;)

  2. I hope you're sleepin miss Beca or at least resting, since this link was tweeted. I'm happy to see you vow to do these things, I worry about how much you work and how little sleep you get. (even when I was anxious to get my glasses.) I hope your customers understand that it's just the two of doing all this work. I hope they know you are busy, busy bees that deserve to take a breath and a real nights sleep.

  3. This is all so very important in terms of the long run of your business. As someone who is exploring the possibilities of starting up a small business, I take this as a great piece of advice. I never thought of creating vows. You can do it! We ♥ you!

  4. Beca, I'm so proud of you! You guys work hard and you deserve a balanced daily life, free of guilt + anxiety. As your friend, I want you to be happy, healthy, and successful. It makes me so happy to read this post. Lots of love to you from me!

  5. PS ... when you master these things, please pass your wisdom onto me. Thx ;)

  6. i just adore you! i saved this.

    it's funny. most people (and me on most days) think "hell yes! I am the luckiest lady ever being my own boss, what could be better??" but i too feel like i need to work crazy hours. i drink too much iced tea, eat poorly (if i remember to eat at all!), and have a great support system, but feel like i need to do it ALL on my own. you probably don't have this dilemma as much, but working for yourself is horribly lonely, and well, that might be the very "worst" part. i never seem to remember to go home either. my furry loves miss me!

    i have an insane google calendar with all my lessons/classes/business to-dos. i added a 4 hour "TREAT YOURSELF!!!!" block on thursdays, and it's perfect. i find myself looking forward to it, and feel less bad about playing hooky cause its in my calendar, dammit!

    i try to not talk about bottle tree when i'm not in work mode.... the whole 4 hours a day i'm not in work mode, ha! i vow to be anna marie. not bottletreeannamarie. and remember that since i'm working for myself, take time to enjoy life and visit friends and go on adventures.

    i'm teaching an awesome workout class called drums alive (check it out when you get a chance!) and that's partially for me. i'm happiest when i get to get some exercise in my life, and that too gets pushed aside.

    i vow to relax. i've never been good at relaxing, and happiest being crazy busy. but i'm not wonder woman, as much as i would love to be. i need time to recharge. i played hooky yesterday and read old embarrassing high school journals and ate a delicious sub and lounged in the sunshine in the grass. it's those little things, ya know?


  7. Yes! Yesssssssssssss!

    Business hours are a must! Learning to say "No. I can't do that" (this is actually a hard one, but knowing when to say NO, like, the most important thing)! Most customers can learn to wait! Having people to talk/complain to works wonders!

    It's mean but there is a strong Etsy contingent who are little more than impatient children who are screaming, "I want it now!" and "I want it cheaper!" and "I want it exactly my way! Let me tell you how to make it!" It's hard because you can't treat your customers like they are stupid but you have to really cover yourself against bullying. Some people just don't get that you aren't their hired help.

    I find that a split day helps me. 11-6 "work" work, 10-1, my work.

    Even with all that, it's hard to not be motivated by guilt or to feel like the biggest loser in the world, sometimes.

    1. Thank you Liz, I really needed to hear that. I appreciate you.

  8. I think all of these vows are good. I mean people accept that you can't be expected to reply to every email, immediately. You're a business. Business hours stand, no matter how big or small. Anyone who bitches because you can't reply to their email at 3am should be taken out and shot.

    Oh hey you have arrows and stuff right you can totally do this.

  9. Love this post, lately I'm feeling the same way! I have two businesses and they're both super-busy at the moment, so I haven't had a weekend or even an evening off in a while. I feel like I'm going a little crazy!

  10. I am so very glad you wrote this post Beca, because you're not a super human, or a machine, you're a living human being and you deserve rest and time to enjoy your success. It is amazing what you and Doug have created and you should celebrate it, even if that means celebrating by sleeping. These vows are awesome and ones that I think a lot of business owners can learn from.

  11. i think these are all great promises to make TO YOURSELF. it's so difficult trying to keep every single person happy and still feel that you can have a life outside of your business, but you know that you're only going to end up being stressed out and on the verge of a breakdown if you let work consume you entirely. and if your customers were in your shoes, i'm sure the majority of them would realize that sometimes orders just have to wait because life won't.

    you're doing a great job <3

  12. As a patron of small businesses, I hope more people try and adopt your philosophy, you deserve your health! Glad to support business owners like you, and I would much rather wait a little bit for something than to think you risked your health producing it. Isn't that a big part of choosing to buy things that aren't made by corporations? Customers need to know about these things just as much as owners do!

  13. I'm so glad you said all of this. I'm a small business owner myself, I design/edit/produce a magazine with my boyfriend, where we do everything ourselves. We just shipped out ~400 orders and even though I'm relieved, I still have so much work to do. I'm tired, eat crappy food, (the irony - it's a food mag!) the house is a mess, etc.

    I've found myself over the past year becoming more and more anxious and overworked, and I've always wanted to take a step back and not feel SO guilty every time we get an email asking where their order is - but I've felt like a bad business owner, lazy, even though I know I'm not lazy, I'm working 16 hour days! I'm just so, so glad you made this post. maybe I can give myself the "right" to chill out now. Off to make my own vows. :)

  14. I think this is really good. You DESERVE to take time for yourself & to take care of yourself. I totally get where you are coming from. You're doing a fabulous job.

  15. I don't know if someone already said this or not but...it's crazy important to take care of yourselves first! I feel like we learn this lesson over and over again and each time it sticks just a little bit more. If you don't take care of yourself and your own mental and physical health, you are no good to the "team" and you are no good as a business. Stress reflects in every aspect of what you do and what you put out there...and seriously girl, you deserve a little R&R!! I've become a little more lax with orders, only shipping on certain days and extending our ship time to allow for 5-7 business days for an order to be sent out. You have to remember that without you there would be no business...you come first!

  16. Sleep and take care of yourself! I know it's easier said than done, but feeling your best will help you be your best! Being a small business owner is a big deal, and it's awesome that you are so completely dedicated to your customers like you are. Really, it's so rare to see that. But people understand the limits you have because we're all human! Just take care of yourself and people will understand (and if they don't, I'll punch them in the face for you).

  17. Thanks for this, I will show it to my boyfriend. I have recently started helping run his record label as it was just too much work to do for him alone. I began nagging at him inadvertently, "don't smoke so much, sit up straight at your desk- you're getting a hunch!, you need to spend less time at the computer, drink less coffee, look after yourself on tour" but these things have gotten better (and myself less annoying) now that a little bit of the responsibilities are shared. I guess I just worried for his health- he's been doing this for ten years, living mainly on red wine, cheese, cigarettes and coffee; ever growing dark circles under his eyes. It's hard to see your loved ones under so much strain.
    you seem to be doing such an amazing job, love your blog. xx

  18. The only way to do for others is to do for yourself first. You cant help anyone if you are down and out.

    It sounds selfish, and in this world we are taught to be selfless, but first comes first. You are all you have in this world, so be gentle and take care of you first. :]

  19. I'm sure it's difficult to keep perspective when orders keep coming in, but people buy your products because they want to support you, they want to support small business and good, honest work. If a person who orders from Amazon didn't get their order in the two days they paid for, they'd probably be upset. They wouldn't have a face to look at and say, it's your fault! Instead it's a huge company that doesn't have to pay attention to them to stay in business. But your personal touch and the ability for people to see you and know you on some level, that makes it easier to wait, to pay that little extra, and to keep coming back.

    Sleep well!

  20. I'm trying to do this myself girl! It's sooo true! I understand and I wish you all the love and support in the world to further your success. Proud of you!