Yes, I do believe that there is such a thing as Entrepreneurial Guilt, and I suffer from it often. And maybe you do too.
Do you ever find yourself struggling with bouts of anxiety? Do you feel guilty when you just want to sit outside in the sun and enjoy a cup of coffee? Do you feel like you are drowning in work? (And no this is not an infomercial.)
I did struggled with Entrepreneurial guilt and now I am finding peace within my workload and life balance.
I am a Photographer based in Calgary. I specialize in Wedding Photography and Event/Brand Photography. I am the owner and principle photographer at Emily Exon Photography. Running a full time photography business or any business is not for the faint of heart. Sure, I thought it was going to be easier than having a desk job, like I had for so many years but I was WRONG!
I learned very quickly that the desk job I had for many years is nothing like being responsible for all the jobs in an entire organization. When you are a solo Entrepreneur like myself, you often wear all the hats you would find in a larger corporation. You are the CEO, the accountant, the bookkeeper, the janitor, the marketing representative, the PR contact, the barista, and the list goes on. Your success is solely your responsibility and the workload is very demanding. In the early stages of starting Emily Exon Photography, I was working a full time job while working on my photography business. (Remember, there is no shame in paying your bills) Over the course of several years I was able to make the leap and just focus on the photography business. But as you can see it did not happen over night and it certainly did not happen without a few tears along the way.
I use to get very stressed about my time management and workload. I use to freak out when my husband would come home early from his work and want to hang out when I still had a mountain of editing to do. I use to get sad and anxious when a Bride would email me asking where her photos were only a day after the wedding and I was just finishing downloading the photos to my computer. And I will be honest, I still get moments where these things and other circumstances will send me into a guilt laden anxiety attack. But, I have learned some tricks that allowed me to unchain myself from my desk and live a more balanced life.
- Time Management. It is the most important part of running a business. I schedule time to do blogging, social media updates, editing, etc. around a typical working schedule. For example. I usually work Friday, Saturdays and Sundays photographing weddings, I purposely leave a couple of Fridays and a Sunday or two open so that I can still see my friends and family. I find that organizing my business around a normal business work schedule has helped in allowing more time to juggle social invitations and has alleviated a lot of stress and anxiety. To make this work, you actually need to block the dates off in your calendar. If you do not block it, you will work it. So make some time for you and your friends and family in your schedule and stick to them.
- I set deadlines. This is very much a time management strategy as well, but it works really well in allowing me to schedule other things like events, hair appointments, etc. I set deadlines for when I want to have sneak peeks ready and emailed, when I want to have the photos edited and ready for delivery, and I schedule when I want to have the wedding albums designed and released. This way, I can hold myself accountable and it helps me find time for more spontaneous adventures.
- Make less apologies. This sounds harsh but it isn’t meant to. It is simply a strategy I use to give myself permission to live my life. You are doing the best you can with the tools and time you have. Sure, there is a lot of pressure to be immediate but you need to be realistic too. No one can ever expect you to sit in a chair for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That is not reasonable or practical. So set expectations with clients early and make sure when you are scheduling your deadlines you let them know what the deadlines are. This way you can be more flexible and allow yourself time away from your desk and make less apologies because your clients know what to expect.
I hope you will find these tips useful. I know that starting a business and keeping the business progressive is hard, but your are not alone. We are all in this together.