We are the change

Maintaining the balance as a start-up

After being inspired by The Business Start Up Show which took place at Earls Court last week we thought we’d keep you feeling motivated too with this fantastic business start-up article by Viv Oyolu:

There’s something about making that decision of being self-employed that’s so empowering – it really is. There’s a rush when you have a vision of a product or service you are dying for the world to see and use.

As a start-up, you put in all the hours possible to bring your vision to life! My motto was (still is!) – Whatever it takes! And I mean that literally! As a start-up, I was consumed with my passion to get the end; and hadn’t figured out what I would do in between to get to the end without burning out and loosing perspective. Here’re some things to take into consideration:


There comes a point when you start feeling low on energy and not sure how you keep going. You start doubting your initial optimism and wondering if you’ve made the wrong decision starting your business. You are not alone! Everyone at one point or another has felt the same; but the key to stay focused and keep motivated. A few things you can do are:

Attend networking events

Some start-ups ignore the importance of networking at an early stage of the business. It’s not only when you have your product/service ready for launch that it is crucial. This is an expense that should be included in the budget from the start. Depending on where you are based, there are a number of events organised that are worth attending. Be clear what your objective is/are attending each one, otherwise you may waste your time and money. I would suggest investing the time to research the ones best suited for you and your business because events vary.

Read books

I am a huge advocate for start-ups reading business books along the way. Agreed there are so many available and it can be a daunting task trying to figure out which ones are worth your time and money. The starting point should be ‘Amazon’ (over Google in my opinion) and search for business books; and you can narrow it down to a specific area of interest. The reviews are very helpful and you will have a gut feel about what’s relevant to you and the stage you are at in your business.

You don’t have to buy everyone; you could ask friends and or visit your local library to see if they stock them. A very good start-up book a lot of people recommend (and I would too!) is ‘The E-Myth’ by Michael E. Gerber; as well as ‘Start With Why’ by Simon Sinek.

Watch short videos

As well reading, a ‘quick fix’ for the afternoon is to watch videos of people who have overcome challenges – may not necessarily be in business, but have the same message. The one place I have found such videos is www.TED.com. It is free and has a way of inspiring just about anyone.

Manage the workload

If you don’t have a business partner as a start-up, then you hold all the roles required to make your business work, and be successful. Honestly there are not enough hours in the day. You have two options – to either do it all yourself or pay someone else (with the expertise) to take on some tasks if you can afford it.

Both options have their pros and cons, but you have to decide what best suits you. If you prefer to hire someone else, then shop around for the best value for you. Start-ups are fortunate today to be in an era, where there are a plethora of services targeted at start-ups and small businesses.  If you know other start-ups that require the same service as you do, then pool together and approach a provider with an offer – don’t be afraid to negotiate; you will be surprised.

However, if you can’t afford to hire anyone to do the things that can be hired out, then you have to manage your time more effectively, so you are not snowed under. I would suggest the following:

  1. Write a list of all the tasks you do
  2. Specify what requires your daily, weekly or monthly attention.
  3. Mark up your calendar with each daily, weekly and monthly task. For instance, if one of your goals is post a weekly blog then you know what day of the week you have to write and schedule it. You should also be as specific as possible, with the time in the day you would complete that task. Be sure you include meetings and networking events into your calendar.
  4. Some people (like me) can only handle information in small chunks. If that’s you, then make sure your calendar reflects that. Schedule in regular breaks away from the computer. Maybe 10 minutes to browse on Twitter or Facebook; or a 20-minute walk round your block; and even if you are working away from home, it should apply. You will be surprised how much clarity and refocus that does to your day.
  5. Have a cut of time when you stop work! Give yourself the time of the day when you will switch off for good. Admittedly there will days when you have deadlines etc; but mentally be aware of that time.

You may think it’s too regimented, but like everything else once it becomes routine, it is easily to manage and you’ll be glad you did.

You and your personal time

As you know, it’s easy for you to forget most important person in the jigsaw – you! You need your R & R (rest and relaxation) time. It is essential for every business owner and even more so for a start-up. For instance, you could decide to take the last Friday – full or half off to meet up with friends; or do something you really love by yourself – shopping, reading (a non-business book!) or catching a movie and yes during the day! Sounds decadent, but I assure you, you need to reward yourself with such simple pleasure. This is crucial to maintaining a great relationship with yourself, your friends and family over time; and more importantly prevents you from resenting your business when you haven’t started realising the profits you’ve forecast.


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  1. Claire says

    Hi Viv, thanks for the great post. Its so easy to burn-out in the early days, especially as a solo-preneur! I definitely think that prioritising personal time is important, even though its tempting to skip it out because you’re so keen to get your business off the ground. Reaching out to other people – either face to face or via social networks like Twitter – helps me keep motivated too. Little things can give you a big boost when you’re feeling like you’ve lost your way, like a re-tweet or simply someone saying thanks.

    1. Viv Oyolu says

      Hi Claire, I am pleased you enjoyed the post – thank you! Having time for ‘self’ is priority for everyone, and I left that for the end so hopefully it stands out…wishing you every success in your venture…best wishes Viv

  2. Lew says

    I could hardly relate from this article, since I am a small firm owner. Maintaining the balance in one’s business is really an important aspect if you really wanted to move on through the next step. By the way, you are not just reminding me about this things, but you are also giving me such wonderful new ideas for me. Thanks.

    1. Viv Oyolu says

      Hi Lew, glad you liked the article and got some useful/new ideas too! I never get tired of reading articles, because there are always nuggets of information waiting to be discovered! The challenge is finding the time…..Wishing you all the best…and thanks for stopping by. Viv