There’s no doubt that building and running a small business is a lot of work.
Anyone who has done it knows that if you aren’t careful, the business starts to run you, instead of the other way around. Without maintaining a constant pursuit of balance, burnout is tough to avoid.
Over the past 3-1/2 years, my business has taught me a lot about myself. I knew coming into it that the first 5 years would be a lot of hard work. I knew it would take about 5 years to really establish the business. Knowing it and living it are two very different things.
When I first started, I had a part time job in a neighbouring community one day a week. I set up my store schedule around that job and for quite a while I kept doing both. I remember the day when I realized that there was enough demand for my services that I was better off to let go of that part time job and use that time to sew for my customers. It was a benchmark moment. At the time, since people were accustomed to the store being closed on Fridays, I kept it that way and I used my Fridays to catch up on the work that accumulated over the week. The pursuit of balance had begun.
As my business grew, I was busy enough during the hours the store was open that it was getting a little tougher to keep up with the sewing. Between trying to do paper work and sewing on Fridays and Sundays,
there was no continuity for me on the days when the store was closed.
I would get to a point on Friday and have to leave it all hanging to be open on Saturday and then pick up where I left off on Sunday. The frustration this generated motivated me to do something different. So I changed my hours and opened on Friday but closed on Sunday and Monday to allow better flow on the days I was working uninterrupted. And that worked pretty well for the better part of a year. Except that the growing needs of the business meant that those two days became absolutely packed with work. There really wasn’t any room for me to recover from the pace of work. The pursuit of balance continued.
Revelstoke is a gorgeous small mountain city.
We are tucked in the mountains and no matter what time of year, it is an outdoor lovers’ Mecca. My husband and I love to ski and with Revelstoke Mountain Resort less than 10 minutes from our door we consider ourselves lucky to live here. Last year, in spite of having season’s passes to RMR, we skied a total of twice all winter… because I needed to keep up with the work in the store. So the pursuit of balance moved along.
My MIL helps out in the store with what she can and that has taken quite a bit of pressure off me.
We get along great and have become very close.
Even though her stamina limits how long she can help out each day, I’m very happy and grateful that she enjoys helping out. I thought long and hard about hiring someone to help with the sewing. You know, there’s only so much you can charge to fix clothing for people. And what with the nature of Revelstoke, a lot of what I fix is outdoor gear. It’s not the sort of thing that the average sewing enthusiast would want to do, or have the skill to do. It definitely requires the power of heavy industrial sewing machines. It’s a lot more physically demanding than a lot of people would expect. And once you hire someone, you have to be able to keep them busy. Yeah, there’s a lot of work, but not enough to justify hiring someone. At the end of the day, you have to have the cash-flow to pay them. And after all the work you put into your business, you kind of want to be able to pay yourself at some point too.
As the winter settled in this year, I vowed that our season’s passes would not go to waste.
Yet, when my husband and I had the opportunity to ski, I was so tired that I was afraid for my safety on the ski hill. We have had a lot of snow this winter. Powder days have come and gone, without us skiing yet. I am very aware that this is a direct result of the success of my business, and even as I work toward a solution, I’m deeply grateful for it. Isn’t it interesting that it takes being uncomfortable enough, long enough to be motivated to change things up? So DH and I began batting ideas around as to how I could shift things to create the space for us to be able to get out once a week; and yet still accommodate my customers and the work I need to get done.
In the pursuit of balance, in the ever-changing landscape of my business, I have decided to rearrange my store hours. I have allowed for one day off a week for myself: Sundays. Mondays and Tuesdays the store will be closed to allow me to work uninterrupted on sewing jobs and administrative duties. I will be on call for visitors to Revelstoke who find themselves with a sewing emergency (yes, there is such a thing as a sewing emergency) on Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays I’ll open up at 8:30 am and close at 6:00 pm. My hope is that this will accommodate most people’s schedules. Saturdays the store will be open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Social Saturdays will be extended accordingly. I will be taking an hour break (MIL will cover me) from 1:30 to 2:30 each day. We won’t offer any fittings or consultations during that time. In the event that I have to be away (which doesn’t happen very often), my MIL will hold down the fort and the hours will be reduced to: 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. I’ll make an announcement on my website, on Facebook and on the door any time this is going to happen.
It is my sincere hope that these new hours will shift things around enough that I’ll be able to maintain a healthier balance while still serving my customers’ needs.