Fetch: Work Hard But Play Harder

Enjoy life

Enjoy life

We all know that being an entrepreneur is not easy. It takes an incredible amount of hard work and a great deal of your time. There are many nights with minimal sleep, you cannot commit to as many social engagements as you used to and it can appear almost impossible to have time when you do not think about your business. And we love it. We love our business, we are passionate about what we do and we would not want it any other way. If you are in start up phase or growing the business, you actually wish you had more time for the business. And this is what sets us apart from the rest. No excuses, no complaining and no regrets. We love what we do and we will work hard and do whatever it takes to see our vision materialize. But, you will struggle if you do not give yourself time away from the business. The success of your business is critical to your ability to work hard and also play hard.

Burnout happens and it drains you, can make you resentful and drags everything down. If we are not taking care of ourselves, we lose our ability to manage our stress. It can have devastating effects on our health and emotional well-being. As a leader, you must watch for the signs and have a plan in place to prevent burnout. There will be many times where you are tired and over-worked, but ensuring you have scheduled off-time is a great way to avoid full burnout. I am going to share some of my ways I manage this to ensure I can operate at my best for my business and team.

People question me all the time about how busy my life is and assume I do nothing but work. I do work hard, but I also feel like I experience more quality down time then most others do. I value my time and truly do feel that life is too short so want to do the best with the short time I have here. Part of that involves my mission with my business; to revolutionize and enhance the lives of dogs. There is a great deal of work and responsibility there. My drive to lead changes in this industry gives me the energy to commit a great deal of my time for this mission. And I see this in other entrepreneurs all of the time. I was at an entrepreneurial event last night and loved speaking with others about their businesses. Everyone lights up with passion, excitement and energy. This is what gives us our energy and it inspires me to see that spark in others. That spark is why we work hard.

But, we must also play hard. We need a work-life balance. However, it may not look the same for everyone. Some people do leave their work at a certain time, turn off the cell phone for the night and make an active effort to disconnect. Some take weekends off. Some take holidays or have a special getaway. Whatever it may be, you need to ensure you are doing it regularly. Taking time away from your business allows you to reconnect with family and friends, get caught up on rest and just helps you reflect on the business in a way you cannot when you are working in it.

Enjoy A Hobby
Do something you love outside of what you do for a living. Read. Play a sport. Paint. Try new things and find ways to experience different activities. These are great ways to focus your mind on something else and can prove to be a perfect way to escape the daily grind. Some of these may also be a great way to spend quality time with a friend or family member.

Daily Down Time
There is a need to decompress daily. I start each day with yoga. This is uninterrupted time to experience stillness and stretch. It is an excellent start to the day and I notice a difference in my coping mechanisms if I do not do it in the morning. Find something for yourself to add in to your morning routine. It is worth that earlier wake up. I also love my time walking my dogs. I can do this at any time during the day. It is great bonding time with the dogs, as well as with my partner when we all go out together. I consider this a time for reflection. I go to a park that feels like I am out of the city, I enjoy nature and it always makes me feel better. Other ways to gain this are through sitting down with family and friends for meals, playing games or just having uninterrupted time to converse and enjoy someone else’s company. Value this time.

Quick Getaways
I feel lucky that we live close to the mountains. If times are stressful or I know we are coming up to a busy time, we always make time for a quick getaway out of the city. This may be just for a drive, or maybe for a walk, or maybe even for a meal at one of our favourite restaurants in another town. Don’t spend your time watching tv or lying around doing nothing. Give yourself these quick getaways at least twice a month. The change of scenery is good for us.

Holidays
I plan frequent holidays. These can be a week away, a weekend away, or maybe just one night. We monitor our spending and are always budgeting for time away. When I know I have an upcoming holiday, it motivates me to work and I can pour much more energy into my projects. And you don’t need to spend a lot to do this. We rent places that allow us to cook our own meals and seek out the best deals. My partner, Kris, and I are both business owners, so we do a lot of what we call ‘working holidays’. These are very productive. We still go away; perhaps to a cabin or apartment rental. We get out and enjoy the new town, but are still available to team, answer emails and work on projects. We love this time. I feel like I have recharged my battery and being somewhere new provides inspiration. Being away from the business also allows me to look at it differently and is where most of my best planning happens.

I know many of us feel like we cannot get away from our businesses. You must. Stop making excuses and make this happen. What happens if there is an emergency? Plan for this now and test it by starting with some small getaways. Take a look through my post on streamlining on ways to prepare your team for when you are not there. And take care of yourself. Put yourself first. Find ways to get yourself away from the business and then enjoy the positive impact it has. Make quality down time for yourself. If you are feeling drained and stressed, get away. Find ways to step out of your business and start small if you need to. The success of the business depends on how well you treat yourself. Work hard but don’t forget to play harder. Life really is too short, so make sure you get out to enjoy it.

Do you have unique ways you give yourself an ideal work-life balance? Do you struggle with burnout? Have you found good ways to avoid it? Please share with us below in the comments!

Fight Like a Dog: Never Give Up

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

You will never hear anyone tell you that being an entrepreneur is easy. And if they do, they are lying or they’ve been incredibly lucky in their journey. It can be immensely rewarding, but it is not easy. If you read about the common traits required to be successful as an entrepreneur you will consistently see characteristics such as passion, tenacity, discipline and self-motivated to name a few. Talk to any entrepreneur and they will each have stories of incredible struggles and low-points while they have built their business. Some of these stories are full of so many challenges, others will wonder why they’ve continued on this path. However, we tend to be an optimistic bunch and value our struggles as they have brought us to where we are today.

I’ve just recently came through one of my longest battles for my business to secure some much needed financing. This has been a fight since day one. In the beginning, I understood that I was a newer business and in a relatively new industry that many did not understand. I was also a service-based business, so the risk was too high. I took equity out of my home and put a large sum of money towards opening my first facility. We did all of the renovations and I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into getting it opened. It was a tough, but incredibly rewarding experience. We saw growth and immediate success, but with high rental and staff costs, it was challenging. I did not take any money for myself for the first 3 years of being open, but rather invested this back into the business. And I worked unbelievably long hours.

When I approached the bank again after seeing continual yearly growth of 150%+, I was turned down because I was not taking personal income. Feeling like I had made this decision as a good choice for my business, and that I was lucky to be able to do this, this was something I did not understand. I wanted to grow my business and had many ideas that I wanted to put into place, so being turned down again forced me to implement one of the most labour-intensive projects to date. I created our Dog Trainer Apprenticeship Program which was immediately successful and allowed me to further fund my business and expand to a second location.

When I began considering this expansion, I contacted a national business bank that offered funding programs for young entrepreneurs. Going through the process, I was told the funding was in place, so I put down a large deposit on the next location. We started work and I kept following up with the bank. About a month into renovations, my call was finally returned and I was advised that the banker I had been working with had been let go and I could receive the money with a $20,000 deposit. At this point, all of my money had already been invested into the new location and I had nothing left to give. This devastated me and I was unsure if we would be able to open. I was worried I was going to lose the entire business at this point. We had about $600 in drywall to purchase that day and everyone told me to wait. I knew if I gave in, that would be it, so made the decision to keep purchases going for necessities, cut back my budget and dropped out some of our plans. I also went into my personal finances and was able to provide some cash flow into the business. We opened for our target date and saw immediate growth, filling our location within a year.

Throughout all of this, I have struggled to manage the growth of the business, battled the CRA which resulted in back paying a year of payroll taxes, went through a divorce along with a variety of other challenges. Needless to say, it has been hard. However, this week, after another long battle with the bank, I received the good news. It was an overwhelming experience and the emotions from it all were unreal. Finally! The feeling like someone believes in what you are doing, takes you seriously and wants to see you succeed. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen tremendous success, have an amazing core team who believes in dogma’s vision, have a wonderful network of amazing friends, clients and business acquaintances, and met my soul mate. I also know there will be more struggles ahead. But for now, I’ve successfully conquered a big one and I am damn proud of it.

 If you have not already, please read The Alchemist. This book was from my sister for my 21st birthday and it was life-changing. I read it at least once a year as it is a quick read, and I always take  something different from it. It is a story about following your heart and your dreams, and how when you do so, the universe conspires to get you there. It is a story that teaches us that there will be challenges and struggles, but that all of these happen for a reason, and that as long as we are continuing on our path, we will get through them and things will be for the best.

The lessons from The Alchemist help me get through the hard times. This recent experience has floored me and got me thinking about how many times I had wanted to give up and what would have happened if I did. I wanted to share this story and keep it as a reminder for myself and for all of the other entrepreneurs who are feeling discouraged, alone and like they have no fight left. This is what sets you apart from the rest. You will not give up. Keep moving forward and stay focused on the end goal. You must fight, and it is your passion for what you do that will keep you going forward. Focus on all the good things that have come into your life because of your personal journey. Do not give up. You have the strength and stopping now is giving up on your dreams. Success comes to those who work hard.

Share your struggles below! Let us know about challenges you have overcome and how things ended for the best.