Personal life. Business life. It all blends together sometimes.
Most readers of the Smart Dog U blog know that I own Smart Dog University, a one-woman dog training business. Like most micro business owners, I do it all: accounting, marketing, admin, teaching, email, blogging, training, well, you get the picture.
In addition to the business, I have my personal life which includes (now) three dogs.
Two of which are seniors (13.75 years old and 15 years old), and the other is a 160 pound giant of a dog, Schooner the Great Dane. In the last 45 days, one of my dogs died, two of the three remaining have had surgery, and all three have been to the veterinarian in the last seven days.
Sometimes my personal life bleeds into and affects my business life.
When Nemo died, not only did my personal life go off the rails, but I had to cancel class that night, which I know put my clients out through no fault of their own. No one complained, of course, they were understanding of my situation and my distress, but still — personal affected business.
Just this week, I took my 13.75 year old Labrador, Tango, in for an ultrasound (we were trying to get to the bottom of some abnormal blood and urine results).
The week before, his chest x-rays showed no abnormalities, so I was fairly confident the ultrasound would be equally unremarkable.
Imagine my anguish when I was told he had a mass on his spleen.
That led to same-day surgery to remove the 7 cm mass.
Surgery is tough on an old dog. I’ve worked on my laptop from my couch since Monday (which is where I’m writing this blog post) — and slept here, too, so I can take care of this sweet old dog as he recovers with me at home.
I’ve turned down clients this week who wanted to schedule in-home training appointments.
I’m loathe to leave Tango alone while he’s recuperating and still woozy from the anesthesia and the subsequent daily pain medication. My husband has modified his schedule, giving up his time after work at the gym, to ensure that when I leave to teach my group dog training classes, that he’s able to be home with Tango.
Again, personal life affects business life.
While I’ve kept up with email (email is so easy — I can answer email from almost anywhere), I’ve fallen behind on returning phone calls. Today, I need to carve out an hour or so devoted solely to returning calls.
I know I’m likely to lose some business due to the personal life/business life crossover.
And that’s stressful. I want to be responsive. However, with two old dogs, I know I can’t be the best in both my professional and personal life. So for now, personal life takes priority.
I don’t know how long I’ll have these oldsters.
I can’t reschedule time with them — we have only a finite amount of time together. I have a robust net of qualified trainers to whom I can refer clients who can’t wait. And for that I’m thankful. And I’m especially thankful to those clients who understand that a phone call might be returned a day or two later, and would prefer it that way as they love their dogs just as much as I do mine.
To all my fellow micro business owners, we may feel scattered and strung-out, especially when our home lives intersect and cause disruptions in our business lives.
But with support from family and friends — and those fabulous clients who understand our dilemma — we’ll get through it. Those folks allow us to tip the balance occasionally to whichever side needs us the most. For that I’m eternally grateful.
To those who do business with one-person businesses, understand that we’re doing our absolute best and often are running two lives at the same time — our personal life and our business life.
And there’s often no line separating the two. That’s both the upside and the downside of running your own micro business. Sometimes my business gets more of me than my family does. Sometimes I have to pull back from the business because my family needs me. It’s a balancing act that, for the most part, pretty much balances out. Except when it doesn’t.