Remember that first moment you made the decision to work for yourself, to be your own boss?You had these ideas of grandeur like you could vacation when you wanted and make your own hours, and no one would be able to tell you what you had to do.

First, if this does not sound like your business, why is that? As an entrepreneur, you could be running your business around your life, not the other way around.

Ask yourself if you are happy with the boundaries you have set for your clients, the hours you work and freedom you have to do what you want.

If you are happy, then you are running your business around your life. One of the first exercises I work with my business mentoring clients on is trying to completely understand what they would like their lifestyle to be as an entrepreneur. If they are currently in business, we modify their business to match what they want.  If they are starting their own business, we build the business around their lifestyle.  This includes vacation, time with family, hours/days they work and so much more.

If you are running your business around your life, good for you.  If you are not happy and this does not feel to you how a business should, here are 5 steps you can follow to stop letting your business run you.

Boundaries  With technology today it can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  Anyone can get a hold of you at any time in multiple ways.  Just because you receive a text from a client at 10 p.m., this does not require you to respond.  If you do respond, you have now set an expectation in that client’s mind that you will respond to them at any hour.  When you first start working with a client, make very clear your boundaries of the days you work and the hours you work.  When you make clear these boundaries up front, they are now clear to the client.  If the client reaches out at all hours of the morning or night, choose not to respond until the set hours you have already clearly stated to the client.  Think about it, can you really help a client out at 10 p.m. or is this more about their need to send that message?

Prioritizing – Have you heard the expression “squirrel’ or “shiny new object syndrome?” These expressions refer to constantly allowing yourself to be distracted with the most immediate new thing that comes up in your business with either a client or yourself.  As an entrepreneur, you must prioritize your day.  Have that list of items you must complete each day in front of you and focus on that list until the items are checked off and completed.  Distractions will occur and fires will need to be put out at times, but it is your responsibility to know if something that comes up can truly wait.  How many times have you looked back on your day and felt like you completed nothing?  Your priority list will help you feel accomplished at the end of your day.

Delegating – To be a successful entrepreneur you must recognize where your time is spent in the most valuable way, and what the is time that builds your business, which translates into profit.  It is common for business owners to think they can do everything themselves.  This is just not possible and you will not be spending your time wisely.  I suggest you look at your business and make a list of all the moving pieces that result in building a team.  In today’s wonderful world of technology, it is not required to hire full-time team members.  You can delegate out to part-time, piecemeal team members on an as-needed basis.  Plus, wouldn’t it be more fun to work on the things you love all day, instead of spending most of your time doing things you do not enjoy and which are not producing income?

Self-Care – When you work for someone, you usually know what days off you have and can plan family time, exercise and spending time for yourself on that time away from the job.  When you own your business, you must set these up in your calendar, just as you would an appointment with an important client.  If you knew an important client was coming into town, you would make sure that time was set aside for that client.  You must do the same with your time.  Look at your month in advance and carve out time for the things that are important to you.  When a client asks if you can meet during one of those times, the easy thing to do would be to cancel your time.  What if instead you let the client know you had an appointment with another client during that time?  It is not necessary to tell the client you are meeting your friend for coffee or going to the gym.  It is common that you will have other client appointments, right?   If vacation is important to you, block off vacation time in your calendar months in advance and know it is set in stone.  If you don’t put aside time for you, then it will not happen.  Remember, self-care will help your business be more successful, because you will not experience burnout.

Mentor – Continuing education is one of my favorite things.  Why?  Because I am very aware that I do not know everything.  If there is a place in your business where you are lacking expertise or guidance, knowledge is out there for you.  Reach out to a group in town or online with likeminded business people. Is there someone you look up to in the business that you can learn from?  Classes you can take to increase the expertise you can offer your clients?  What about hiring a business mentor?  Accountability, support, expertise and guidance are all things that will increase your business profits, and take you to the next level.  Make sure to always incorporate some type of support and/or education to continue to progress in your business.