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Overcoming Entrepreneurial Role Strain Pain
Every entrepreneur starts out wearing multiple hats. This reality is especially evident with women entrepreneurs who tend to juggle many different roles in both their personal and professional lives. In many circumstances, the role of taking care of the children and household falls to the woman as does caregiving to aging parents and other family-related responsibilities. All of those things can be a full-time job so no wonder why the additional demands of a growing business can seem overwhelming.
Here are some ways to manage the strain of taking on the many different roles it takes to run and grow a business:
1. Compartmentalize. Draw clear lines between work time and family time, but realize that you may have to move back and forth between those areas of your life. Find ways to create both physical and virtual spaces to keep business separate from home life, even if your company is located within your home. While there are times when blending work and home life together could make sense - like hiring a family member to work within your company - making sure there are distinct times and places for everything helps avoid complications and conflicts.
2. Prioritize. Build into your daily schedule a little time to sit quietly and assess all that needs to be done in the day. Enter tasks and activities into your calendar, literally blocking off time for even the most basic things that will take up your time. Being able to visualize not only a To Do list but how that list fills the hours of your day can help you be more selective about what things you tackle at what times. You’ll also get a better picture of truly how overloaded you might be and how trying to “do everything” is benefitting no one.
3. Barter. Often we take on tasks that we’re really not equipped to handle because we lack the skills or experience, but we feel we have nowhere else to turn. If you’re not yet ready to hire help, either at home or at work, consider finding colleagues who have skills in areas where you need support. Offer to help them with something where you excel and trade that work for comparable assistance. For example, if you’re great at graphic design and really need someone to help write an article, offer to do some graphics for a writer in exchange for copywriting. Establishing mutually beneficial bartering relationships with clear parameters can be a win-win for both parties and relive you of some additional tasks.
4. Hire. Even when you think you might not be ready to hire someone, there are ways to be able to afford the assistance you need without the expense of a full-time employee. A great way to get more affordable help is to turn to virtual assistance. There are many types of virtual assistance including websites where people from around the world offer to do small or repetitive tasks at affordable rates to people who are professional virtual assistants and offer flexible pricing and discounted packages for services. Look at online task sites such as Taskrabbit, Mechanical Turk, even Fivver for help with a variety of things including graphic design, Internet research and database cleanup. Hire freelance help through sites like Elance or Odesk. Or find a qualified virtual assistant through an online search, by asking your business colleagues for a referral or through the International Virtual Assistant Association (IVAA).
While it is common in the early stages of a business to take on many roles because there may not yet be anyone else on board to handle things, this approach inevitably causes the “role strain” that leads to unnecessary stress and conflict. To avoid issues before they even start, build your support network, ask for help, and redistribute roles so you can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on the important things.