Today's post is about finding some of the tools needed to run your business efficiently but also equally important learning to turn it off when you can and free your family and yourself from the constant talk and even emotion of it all. If you don't learn to separate yourself from it all even for a little bit each and every day it will wear you down so fast and you will never see it coming.
Like many people before me and my husband, we decided to build a large boarding facility and quit our jobs. We would work at home and live the American dream. After a few long years of planning, our barn was open for business. Overnight my life became busier than I had ever dreamed and I was not prepared for it all. Suddenly we were caring for forty horses and their owners needs and with that came many issues. The requests were constant and my herd management skills were brought to a completely new level when I had to figure out where to put all these horses and hope they get along. Every complaint (and there were many) caught me off guard because I was completely new at running a business. What was there to complain about I thought to myself often? I was about to learn some of the greatest lessons of my new career about dealing with clients and people.
The most difficult part about all this was that I had no where to go to get away from it all. I couldn't clock out from work and drive in my car to go home. I was already home. My phone rang often and at all hours. All I had to do was look out my window and I was reminded of things I needed to do or conversations I needed to have that I was avoiding. My business life had followed me into my home and it I didn't know how to shut it off. My girls were little and I needed to spend time with them and all they saw was a mom that was on the phone constantly or back out in the barn because I didn't know how to say no it can wait. My girls and husband were paying a huge price and I had to change things fast for me and for them.
I wanted to list a few things that I feel are so important in keeping your business separate from your home life as much as possible. These are the things that I have done through the years to keep me fresh for both my family and for the business. Believe it or not they do go hand in hand.
1. Boundaries - Having boundaries is a must!! It is a hard thing especially for women to do but creating healthy boundaries for your clients is essential for your family. Your private time with your family is vital. I didn't know how to do this at first and it took me a few years to learn. It doesn't mean you don't like your clients and you are probably friends with many of them but boundaries can get out of hand fast if you are not careful. My book, "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover," talk extensively about this subject and how boundaries need to be put in place for both the barn owner and the client.
2. Barn hours - Having barn hours important. It gives the barn owner time to get the stuff done that needs to be done and it will give you a small bit of time to rest when your farm is quiet. The truth is as long as clients and people are at your barn it will become difficult to fully rest and relax because your phone will ring or text will come in all the way up till the barn closes. It is just part of having a business but you can control a little bit of that by having barn hours in place and learning to not answer your phone or text until the next day during business hours. Your family will appreciate it.
3. Get away from the barn for a bit - Getting away from your barn or stable will be the most challenging hands down but it is so important to your well-being. I meet with a friend of mine once every few weeks for lunch and she is not a horse person at all. We have been friends for a long time and we talk about everything but horses and I need that. It is so easy to get lost in your business and forget there is a huge world out there with so many other things going on. After we meed to for lunch and talk for hours I always feel rejuvenated and that helps so much when I see my family and it even helps when I go back in the barn to work.
David and I have met for years with three other couples once a week for a study and it is so good for us to get away and talk about other stuff that important to us. These simple little things don't cost much money but they are worth their weight in gold to your well-being. It has been great for our marriage and we always come home refreshed.
4. Children and the barn - When we started our business I had no idea how much the barn would consume me. My girls are now sixteen and eighteen and there are still times when they remind me not to answer a text (I now get the eye roll!) and if it can wait till tomorrow then they beg me to let it wait. They have grown up so fast and they have had to follow me many countless times to talk with me while I needed to take care of something in the barn. They understand it is part of owning a business but they have been a great reminder of when I need to separate the business from the home. I have gone into the barn too many times over the years to take care of something that could have waited until the next day. They still need me and your kids will need you. Watch out because they will grow up so fast and you don't want to miss it.
5. Learning to say no - This is a huge one. Learn to say no when you feel in your gut that you should say no. Too many times we try to please everyone else and then our family loses out. The business will pull you in and you won't want to disappoint your boarders. But when you finally learn to say no to something that you really don't want to do, it will free you and you will find yourself feeling so much better about everything. Remember that everything you do or say "Yes" to at your barn will have an affect on everything else including your family. Make sure it doesn't take you away from your home too much. It is okay to say no and it will give you peace of mind in the long run.
Running a horse business is amazing and I love the fact that I can walk out my door and head out to the barn and start work each morning. I have never grown tired of it even after all these years. I believe one of the reasons I have not burned out is because I have found a healthy balance between home and work and it is due to the little things I mentioned in the list above. All those small things will be huge things to your family and you won't even realize it at first until you start making changes and then it will come like a huge beacon of light shining at you. Once you start doing some of these things and see what a difference it makes in your personal life you will never go back to the old way of running your barn and business. Life is too short and valuable.
You can have it all but make sure you have boundaries in place to safe guard it all, most importantly your family. I wish you the very best in your horse business.