April 4, 2018
“Do business hours really matter?”
I was sitting down with a fellow small business owner and we were sipping on our coffee, chatting about life and work, when she asked that question:
“Do business hours really matter?”
I almost spit out my coffee out of shock… then I remembered that I once had the same question.
I once couldn’t understand why some people were so obsessed with business hours. But now I see. Now I know that business hours really do matter for small business owners…
When I first started my business almost 9 years ago, I thought that part of what was so great about working for myself and working from home was that I could work any time of day and not be stuck to a 9-5 structure. And while that’s true, it is pretty great, that mindset can be dangerous and can lead to anxiety, stress, overwhelm, and it can exacerbate workaholic tendencies, which I tend to have :-/
In those early days of small business ownership, I would respond to emails at all hours of the day and night. Tuesdays at 10pm, Saturdays at 11am, even Sunday mornings sitting at church during the sermon. I was so excited about my new business and so energized by the growth my business was experiencing and so focused on serving my clients well that I let it take over my life. I started to convince myself that I had to be available to my clients 24/7 if I wanted to grow and serve them well.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I didn’t realize that by exchanging time with family and friends for a simple email response (that could’ve easily waited until morning), I was inadvertently telling my family and friends that something else was more important. And I was slowly but surely training my clients that I was always available.
I basically never actually had a day off or even an evening off. And because of that, my personal life suffered. I experienced complete burnout because I never had a break, physically or mentally. I even started falling out of love with my work. I had put this pressure on myself that because I could, I therefore HAD to work and respond to emails 24/7.
When I finally started implementing business hours, 8am-5pm Monday-Friday, and when I stuck to those hours, that weight started lifting off my shoulders. And surprisingly, I was still able to get all my work done in those set hours. I was just as productive, if not more so, with these new hours in place. Imagine that! When I allowed myself to not be on the clock 24/7, I experienced such freedom. I started enjoying the evenings again. I started hanging out with friends and didn’t check my email and it was okay. I started connecting with my husband again. Because I wasn’t as stressed anymore, I was able to now serve my clients better. They didn’t even bat an eyelash when I implemented business hours.
Establishing business hours saved my life.
Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic… but you get what I mean. I really do believe that by implementing set business hours and sticking to them, I got my life back. It changed my life and my business. And I want the same for you!
If you are a small business owner and you’re struggling with feeling like you have to be on the clock 24/7, can I please give you a hug and tell you that it’s not worth it? You need some time off. Your family and friends need you to have some time off. Your sanity needs you to have some time off ;-)
Business hours are not uptight and selfish, like I once thought they were. Business hours are perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as a small business owner. Your clients will be ok and your business will not crumble, I promise!
Do I always stick to my business hours 100% of the time? No. Do I sometimes have to work late hours and do I sometimes still have to say no to hangouts due to a full work schedule? Yes. But the key is, it’s not a regular thing anymore. I only have to work late hours and say no to hangouts every once in awhile. It’s allowed me the freedom to focus on what really matters in my life.
So yes, I do think that business hours really matter… in fact, I am so thankful for them. If you are currently in the same position I was in when I first started my business, I hope that you can allow yourself to start putting up some boundaries to help protect your time with your family and friends and to help protect your sanity. Haha!
I love having business hours. My life is fuller and more peaceful now. Business hours saved my life…