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A look at small business questions from the Southwestern Oregon Community College Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
By Arlene M. Soto CMA, CGBP, Southwestern SBDC Director

I feel like my business is taking over my whole life. How do I establish boundaries to keep my business in perspective?

Owning a business is time consuming and often overwhelming with multiple priorities. Technology has changed how business is done. Do you ever find yourself answering emails from your smartphone before falling asleep at night or updating the accounting system at midnight because there are no interruptions? Are you posting updates to social media sites multiple times a day? Family and friends may be telling you that you spend too much time working. You may be asking yourself why you started a business because you can no longer do all the things you enjoyed prior to the business. Creating boundaries between personal time and work time is necessary to keep your business in perspective.

To start this process of setting boundaries it’s important to reflect on priorities and know what’s really important to accomplish in a day, a week or a month for your business to succeed and allow the time you need for personal activities. Analyze all the tasks you perform in your business. Prioritize tasks and calculate the time needed to accomplish them. Are there any tasks that are unnecessary; for instance, marketing that used to work but is not bringing in customers any longer? Eliminate those from your schedule. Are there any tasks that can be delegated? Assign those to someone else and eliminate them from your schedule. Are there any tasks that can be done more efficiently? Make changes so that those tasks take less time. Are there any areas where you need to say “no” to a particular project or task? Find other ways to contribute to those causes that you are passionate about. A resource that might be helpful as you search for ways to streamline business operations is a time management coach or a professional organizer. These professionals can help analyze tasks and prioritize them without the emotional attachment you have.

Use a time management tool to budget time to accomplish all tasks on your to do list and schedule time for yourself. Rethink business hours of operation to allow time for family, friends, exercise and fun. Keep business activities in those hours of business operation as much as possible to avoid burnout. The key to successfully keeping business in perspective is to establish boundaries, plan ahead and manage time for achieving the greatest impact.

The SBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network, the Oregon Business Development Department and Southwestern Oregon Community College. Arlene M. Soto has been the Director of the Southwestern Small Business Development Center since July 2007. To ask a question call 541-756-6445, e-mail, or write 2455 Maple Leaf, North Bend, OR 97459. Additional help is available at the OSBDCN Web page

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