•   Mathieu Maréchal   •

Managing your shop: how to ensure a good work/life balance

Except for the weeks before and the months immediately after your shop opens, when there is plenty of work and things to do, you’ll often be able to set aside some time for activities to help you to unwind.

The following is a real example, provided by an organic shopkeeper we know:

As we will see in this article, when you open an organic shop, it’s very important to think about your work/life balance.

Firstly, I’ll show you that there are many reasons to ensure a good balance between the personal and the professional, although nowadays these two spheres often overlap. For example, who hasn’t had a phone call from a colleague or even a manger, outside working hours?

Then I’ll give you some tips on how you can ensure that you create a good work/life balance on a daily basis.

Lastly, I’ll explain the reasons why it’s important to focus on this balance to benefit your shop and your customers.

But before we go on, let’s start with a definition of what we mean by work/life balance: it’s simply making sure that you have the time and the energy for important things outside of work.

Here are some examples of things to keep in mind as you work to find your balance:

  • your family, particularly your children,
  • your friends,
  • your hobbies and activities which help you to relax,
  • holidays and travel.

Why maintain a work/life balance?

In this first section, I’m going to reflect on the reasons why you might want to ensure that you have a good work/life balance.

Human beings need different things to thrive and these basic needs should encourage you to maintain your work/life balance.

Protect your relationships

What’s most important to you in your life?In response to this question, many people answer “my children, my family, my friends”.

If this also applies to you, you’ll need to make sure that your shop doesn’t take you away (too often) from your family and friends.

These relationships are at the heart of your emotional and psychological well-being and you mustn’t sacrifice them for your business!

Conserve your energy

A good business owner has the energy to deal with a busy schedule, packed with twists and turns and unexpected events, day after day.

Finding your balance will help you to conserve your energy, which is the fuel for your engine.

Feeling overwhelmed in your daily working life leaves you with no energy for anything else.

Maintain your motivation

People are motivated by the meaning they find in their work, by their ability to take responsibility and work independently and by developing good working relationships with their colleagues.

But this motivation can be seriously affected if it comes at the expense of other sources of motivation (family, friends, leisure activities).This is when burn-out can happen, which prevents you from working on your business.

Without motivation, nothing can be done!

How can you maintain a work/life balance?

Let’s focus on the practicalities: how can you actually maintain a work/life balance?

Explain your work properly to your friends and family

When you announce your decision to open an organic shop, your family may not be supportive from the outset and may even be reluctant. Especially if you’re not from an entrepreneurial family!

The key here is not to be influenced (negatively) by your friends and family if they’re not enthusiastic about your plans.

This negative influence could affect your morale and discourage you.

There’s nothing better than having regular conversations with your family and friends to explain the reasons for your business, how you see things going on a day-to-day basis and the possible impact on your friends and family.

These explanations will help your friends and family to understand how important your business is to you; over time, they will also be able to imagine the future of your organic shop, so they will be less reluctant: a satisfactory solution for everyone!

Set aside time for certain activities

Except for the weeks before and the months immediately after your shop opens, when there is plenty of work and things to do, you’ll often be able to set aside some time for activities to help you to unwind.

The following is a real example, provided by an organic shopkeeper we know:

  • Sunday: no work under any circumstances!
  • Monday afternoon: pick up the kids at school (4pm) and play with them,
  • Thursday morning (the quietest day of the week): the employee takes care of the shop, freeing up a morning for self-care (exercise, reading, etc.),
  • Friday evening: a night out with friends.

Make a promise to yourself: this time to relax should be obligatory! 

Ask for help

If your business is time-consuming and you feel overwhelmed by everyday things, why not ask for help? You could ask for help to do the cleaning and ironing, pick up the children from school or prepare the evening meal, for example.

This help can be provided from time to time by family members, professionals (if you have the money for it!) or friends.

Hiring or working with a business partner

As we’ve seen in previous articles, you can also decide to hire an employee in the shop to help you or join forces with a business partner to get your business off the ground.

In the medium term, these two decisions will mean that you can share tasks in the shop with someone else. The result? You’ll have more free time for you and your family.

Take your time and accept when things go slowly

I can tell you from experience: when you set up your own business, sometimes you have to do things more slowly than you’d like. To protect your children, because you can’t do everything you want to in one go, because you don’t have enough time or energy and for plenty of other reasons.

You simply have to accept that things are going more slowly than you expected.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s better to go a little more slowly as you develop your business so that you can ensure your ability to keep going in the long term, isn’t it? :)

The impact of a good work/life balance on your shop

Finding a good balance has another major advantage: it’s good for your business! Here’s why:

To ensure customer satisfaction

Your energy is seen and felt by your customers. Imagine that they come into your shop and your energy level is low.They won’t want to come back to your shop!

The image you give your customers is directly affected by your energy and motivation.

To avoid taking risks

If your energy and motivation are low, there is an increased risk that you’ll make mistakes or forget to do important things in your shop.

Imagine forgetting to put products in the shop’s fridges when you leave in the evening. Or perhaps you might forget to fill in an administrative form required by the tax authorities next week.

In conclusion, finding a good work/life balance should be a key part of your action plan when you open your organic shop. The consequences, at every level, of a lack of balance are potentially too significant to ignore!

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