Being a small business owner means I can prioritise my values.
Being the final decision maker and having autonomy is one of the most powerful things about being a small business owner. But it took time for me to get to the point where I felt like I had the autonomy I was seeking and a business that supports my lifestyle. At the start of my business I took on clients whose business practice didn’t fit with my ethics and I often worked at less than ideal times. It was all part of building a business that would fit with my lifestyle and allow me to prioritise my values.
Once Black Cockatoo became my sole business I was better able to achieve this. At the point where my business is at now I am able to choose who I work with and what that looks like. There are definitely times when I am flexible, my clients and I work together towards a goal and like every relationship there is give and take.
In 2009 I started my first business – Family Daycare, supposedly my own business with flexibility and the ability to be at home with my kids. However, I was restricted to working at the times parents needed care. Sure, I could set my own hours but if I opened weekdays from 2-8pm I can bet I wouldn’t have had much business!
I was also restricted by the regulations in my state, which of course need to be in place but there were times when these clashed with my values. For example, because of health regulations the children had to use paper towels each time a child dried their hands, the environmental implications of this were very troubling to me and it wasn’t something I could change.
While still doing family daycare I had a brief time in party plan, this was even less than ideal than daycare for me. I am sure for some women it’s a great choice and I did absolutely love the product but the pressure to sell and recruit others was high.
Again, I was restricted to doing parties when the hosts wanted to hold them. Rather than being a business of my own this was just me selling someone else’s product with their rules and restrictions. The last straw for me was the day of my father’s funeral when I was hounded by my upline about whether I had emailed my former clients. I knew at that point that any kind of party plan would never work for me, it left a bitter taste in my mouth with anything to do with multi level marketing.
But it did reinvigorate me to focus on my Virtual Assistant business and I committed to.
So now, today I am finally able to honour my values in an autonomous way. I have 2 very clear priorities in my life:
- Health – both physical and mental health. My business allows me to take time out to exercise or look after my own self-care. Whether it is a regular commitment like attending our local PCYC’s weekly classes or just leaving my desk when I feel like it to do some yoga, I have the flexibility and the decision is in my hands. I am also able to make time to connect with friends and family when I want and this is imperative to my mental health given the distance I live from most of them.
- Family – as home schoolers I don’t have the luxury of being able to work school hours, my business allows me to commit time to educating my kids in the way I feel is best. It also means we can up and head out to go on adventures or just be spontaneous in our days because my work can be done when I am free. I choose the hours and the duration that my business fits in best for our family.
I was told once, when I was in family daycare that I would never be able to find another business where I didn’t have to put my kids in daycare all day. I have proved this wrong and built a business that supports our family and lifestyle as well as allowing me the time and space to prioritise my values and there is no looking back.