As I always say, you own your business — it shouldn’t own you. But how does that work if you’re your own boss? Because you’re passionate about your enterprise, you may tend to be a little hard on yourself.
To gain entrepreneurial freedom, you must be a good leader — for yourself as well as your team. As you likely know, good leaders inspire others to take action. Instead of micromanaging or manipulating, they empower their teams to do their best.
So the question is…do you treat yourself the same way?
Here’s how to stop being your own worst enemy — and become your own BEST boss.
Set Boundaries for Your Work
Somehow, pursuing entrepreneurial freedom makes many of us want to work even longer hours. It’s like the joke going around: “I quit my 9-5. Now I work 24/7.”
That’s definitely not the ideal schedule if you want freedom. But without your employer’s external timeframe, it’s much easier to your entrepreneurial goals to consume all your waking hours.
You’re now your own boss — and that may not be a good thing. Are you the type of boss who happily grants time-off requests and trusts you to complete your tasks? Or a micromanager who forces their employees to maximize every minute on the clock and shames you for being sick.?
Be honest with yourself. As an entrepreneur, are you forcing yourself to work crazy hours? Neglecting your essential needs? Pushing yourself toward burnout?
Our society often conflates hard work with success. Remember, your goal is to enjoy greater freedom. That’s what will enable your success.
Work as hard as you’d like — during business hours. Then, unplug and enjoy the rest of your life!
Be Kind to Yourself
Imagine the worst bosses you’ve had in your career. If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid them, consider the titular characters in the movie “Horrible Bosses.”
They are manipulative, short-sighted, and selfish. They demand unwavering productivity from their employees without contributing themselves. They want to reap the benefits of being a “boss” rather than leading their team to excellence.
If you’re reading this, you likely care about treating your team well. You understand the importance of leadership. You know how to align your business’s Promise, Process, and People (3 of the 5 Ps for Entrepreneurial Freedom) to help everyone do their best.
But are you granting yourself that same kindness, clarity, and compassion?
You also deserve respect and support in the workplace. If something goes wrong, you need constructive guidance rather than punishment. And believe it or not, it’s okay if not every second of your day is “productive.” We all need a break to watch funny animal videos now and then.
Entrepreneurial self-care may include delegating tasks that suck up your precious time. It could mean a weekly check-in about your goals and workload. Without external constraints, it’s easy to let your business consume all your energy.
By practicing self-care, you can protect yourself from that belligerent boss: yourself! That helps you unleash your greatest potential as an entrepreneur and leader.
Find an Accountability Group
Entrepreneurship can be lonely. Unless you’re friends with a bunch of fellow entrepreneurs, you likely don’t have buddies who understand your challenges. Who can you commiserate with? do your best friends even know what you’re talking about?
And if you’re like many entrepreneurs, you’ve already talked your partner’s ear off. They’re tired of hearing about it. while they’re fully supportive, they don’t empathize with your struggles.
That loneliness can lead to self-loathing. Running your own business is difficult. It’s all too easy to get stuck in your head.
You need someone to talk you down. They can help you avoid making rash decisions or pushing yourself past your limits.
That’s why it’s so important to network with fellow entrepreneurs. Build a circle of people who understand the struggle. They’ll keep you accountable for your goals. More importantly, they’ll keep you accountable for your self-care.
In short, you need a like-minded individual who will give it to you straight. Someone who will tell you to log off and go enjoy the non-work parts of your life! Better yet, join (or create) a community of people who prioritize clarity and confidence rather than “the grind.”
The idea of being your own boss is great in theory. However, you must ensure you’re a good boss to yourself. Treat yourself fairly and supportively.
Better yet, be a leader. You are your own source of confidence and clarity. And whenever you can’t provide that for yourself, reach out to your accountability group.
No one likes a bad boss — even if that bad boss is the person in the mirror. If you disrespect yourself as an entrepreneur, you’ll hold yourself back from your goals.
It also affects your overall team. Even if you act as a leader for them, they can tell when you’re driving yourself to burnout.
To embrace entrepreneurial freedom, remind yourself that you too deserve work–life balance and compassion. Be the type of boss you’d recall fondly. You can lead yourself to a better life.
This blog is inspired by an episode of the Simplifying Entrepreneurship Podcast in which I chat with Jake Brown, entrepreneurship coach and the author of Leadershit: Surviving a Bad Boss.