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Editor’s note: This post is from guest blogger Kellye Crane, creator and founder of SoloPR.
There’s nothing better than taking charge of your own destiny by being your own boss! But to be successful long-term, it’s important to take steps to preserve your sanity and stay efficient.
While it’s tempting to give 110% of yourself – and your resources – to your business, prevent over-extending by keeping in mind a few key tips:
1. You don’t have to be “on call” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Sometimes it can be hard to establish boundaries. While you want to be as responsive as possible to your stakeholders, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to disconnect sometimes. “Training” those who work with you to value your time can actually be helpful in gaining their respect overall.
2. Take a break
In the same vein as #1, you need to occasionally block out some “personal time” so you can regroup and recharge. Research shows that time away from your business actually helps you get more done in the long run, and let’s face it: we get pulled in so many directions, it will only get done if it’s on the calendar.
3. Be innovative when it comes to resources
People in a “real job” usually have easy access to paid resources and other perks. But once you start your own business, you’ll likely find it’s not necessary to pay full price for things like research, pricey databases or subscriptions.
Much of the information you need can be found online, with just a little digging. If you need to use a paid service for a certain need, check with other small business owners to see if there are any co-op opportunities before spending the big bucks. For example, many media database providers allow public relations consultants to share a subscription at a lower cost. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!
4. Establish procedures
It’s important for small business owners to take the time to define and document operations processes, so you aren’t constantly reinventing the wheel. It’s easy when we’re strapped for time to neglect this step, but it’s key to staying efficient long-term.
5. You’re not alone
As a business owner, it’s easy to feel like you’re on your own. So it’s important to build a network of professional support – and with social media this doesn’t have to be in-person, so it’s easier than ever.
For example, independent public relations and creative professionals have formed strong bonds around the Solo PR Pro LinkedIn group, the weekly  #solopr chat on Twitter each Wednesday (from 1-2 pm ET), as well as a Facebook page. These outlets give new and veteran independent consultants a forum to ask questions, share ideas, and make each other laugh on a regular basis. Regardless of your specialty or business niche, chances are there’s a similar community of professionals out there for you.
These are just a few top sanity-saving tips. What are yours? If you’re an independent business owner, how do you stay focused and productive?

Kellye Crane

Solo PR Pro community founder and blogger Kellye Crane has been a successful independent PR consultant for more than 15 years, and enjoys helping creative professionals interested in independence down this career path. Connect with Kellye at solopr.

Follow me on twitter @MarketingMel.

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18 Responses to “Save Your Sanity – Tips for Business Owners and Consultants”

  1. While I like all your tips Kellye, I can’t say enough about the last one. I’ve maintained a lot of sanity cells in my own brain thanks to a credible, caring network of professional support. My work is so personal that this support is all at once personal and professional.

    And by the way, Wednesday is blocked on my calendar for some fly-fishing. So I really like number 2 as well.

    Thanks again for writing on Mel’s blog,
    Jeff

    • Thanks, Jeff! You’re absolutely right — our business and professional lives intertwine to a point that it’s virtually impossible to have professional-only friends. These folks become “real” friends before we know it, and I think that’s part of the fun.

      Enjoy your (I’m sure well-deserved) fly fishing!

  2. My best sanity tip involves getting support from others through a Mastermind Group. They help me sort things out, and always challenge me to stretch.

  3. Wonderful tips, Kellye. I find myself reaching out more and more through LinkedIn groups and Twitter chats to connect with other professionals and use my mastermind group and accountability partner to keep me on track and out of my comfort zone. Being an entrepreneur should be anything but a solo journey. Love the post.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Kristina. When you think about it, it’s amazing how much people are willing to be supportive and share what they know. As you say, we work independently, but there’s no need for us to be (or feel) isolated!

  4. Renee says:

    My best sanity-saving tip is to simply stop when I start feeling overwhelmed, recognized that I’ve created it and do nothing. That’s actually when my best creativity shows up. Love your tips Kellye!!

  5. Great post – I particulary like the reminder in “You don’t have to be “on call” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week” it is often difficult to set boundaries and I found that working with people around the globe actually pushes you into working 24 hours a day and before you know it you’re a slave to your business!

    • maryellen says:

      As entrepreneurs we sure know about that!

    • You raise a great point, Heidi. The global aspect of business today makes it even more important to set our boundaries and stick with them. If you have International clients the phone *will* ring at 3 a.m. — you have to turn it off!

  6. One of the things I have my clients do is mark off FIRST their time off for the year. I know that if we don’t protect it up front, it disappears. Your suggestions are right on. I don’t believe we do our best work in isolation even if we are self-employed.
    Sue

    • maryellen says:

      So true Sue. We do need one another (like our tribe!)

    • Very important tip, Sue! I’ve found that telling clients about planned vacations way in advance is the only way to go. Not only does it prevent vacation postponement, It helps with their comfort level to know that you’re planning ahead and will have them covered.

  7. Wonderful tips. Each one is so very critical when you’re running your own business.

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