Tag Archives: small business

Are You Taking Care Of Yourself?

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We are lucky enough to have the drive to pursue our passions and art.

However, we also have the tendency to run ourselves into the ground and most of the time, we don’t even know it.

Taking care of yourself is essential. It helps you avoid burnout, which can lay you up for days/weeks/an indeterminate amount of time.

Here are 9 questions to ask your mind/body just to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

1) Is your to-do list too long?

Making your to-do list super long can make it hard for you to feel like you accomplish anything. Sure, you’ll get a few things done but will you feel like you put in a good day of work if you never finish your lists?

Be kind and make your to-do lists actually doable. The sense of accomplishment will feel wonderful. And, if you really want, you can add secondary tasks after you finish the important stuff.

2) Are you taking regular breaks every day?

Maybe you feel guilty taking breaks. Or you feel like you need to live the whole “keep your nose to the grindstone” thing. Working this way may actually hinder your productivity. Over time, the longer you work without a break results in your brain absorbing and processing information efficiently. This article from the Science Daily notes that while we may always be paying attention, our brain stops registering it as important.

3) Have you moved your body recently?

We all hear how important exercise is, and yes, it is. But in general, when was the last time you moved your body at all. The newest trend in office furniture is the standing desk and there’s a good reason behind this.

Sitting for too long can lead to a number of health concerns. Mayo Clinic has noted that some of these may include “increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels.” So while you’re on your break, get up and MOVE!

4) How long ago was your last meal- not snack?

If you’re like me, sometimes you’ll work for 8 hours straight and forget to eat. Or maybe you’re in the mindset that skipping meals means cutting out calories. This needs to change.

When you’re working, your body and mind will need the fuel that food can provide. And if you’re struck by hunger pangs, this can be very distracting and also hinder productivity.

If you’re worried about calories, consider the fact that frequently skipping meals may slow down your metabolism.

5) What was the last fruit/veggie you ate and how long ago?

This point goes hand-in-hand with the last point. You may be really good about eating regular meals, but when was the last time you put fresh fruits and/or vegetables into your body?

Harvard’s School of Public Health makes a well reasoned argument for eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. And it’s really all what we’ve heard our whole lives. Fruits and vegetables help your body fight off sickness and keep you healthy.

6) Have you had any water today and how long ago?

“Water is essential to good health,” says Mayo Clinic. Are you drinking enough?

Your body depends on water to function and even being slightly dehydrated will lead to a drain in your energy. And like hunger, the sensation of being thirsty is distracting.

Bonus! Live Science suggests that drinking water can lead to a mental boost.

7) When was the last time you smiled?

Owning your own business can be stressful. Maybe right now, you’re struggling with something. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to smile about. Surely, there’s something.

And if there isn’t, fake it!

Sounds awful, I know, but Forbes released an article stating that even faking a smile can result in less stress and help improve your mood. Also, putting a smile on your face can help boost the mood of those around you as well! Then they’ll smile at you and then you’ll receive a boost as well!

8) When was the last time you hung out/called friends or family?

Depending on where you are in your small business, you are probably flying solo most of the time. This can be an incredibly lonely experience. And while you might not notice it now, the loneliness will strike when it’s least convenient. Feelings of self-doubt and sadness are just a few of the emotions you will experience with loneliness.

Being around your friends will instantly alleviate those feelings. They help celebrate the good times and support you during the bad. Friends give you a sense of belonging and purpose. You know that they’ll boost your happiness. And laughing with your best friend? I can think of few better stress relievers.

9) When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep?

The National Institutes of Health will tell you that getting a good night’s sleep is essential to not only our physical health, but our mental health as well. We may feel like less sleep will give us more time to work, but in reality, lack of sleep impairs brain functions and hinders our productivity.

Getting a good night’s sleep helps us not only feel rested and happy, but gives our bodies time to perform vital functions while resting. Sleep also affects our stress levels, immune system, appetite, blood pressure, and heart health.

If you feel like you’re sleeping 7-8 hours a night but don’t ever feel rested, or if you find yourself waking up frequently during the night, you may need to consult your doctor. These might be signs of a sleep disorder.

After answering these questions, you’ll get a better idea on how you’re doing with the self-care thing. It’s hard because we love our business so much we want to just keep going. But we must love ourselves as well. You’re worth it, afterall.

What changes will you make to ensure that you’re taking good care of yourself?

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4 Customer Service Tips to Keep You Sane

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Congratulations! You made it through the holiday season alive. Now comes the dark side of a busy holiday season for handmade business owners: difficult, upset, angry, and/or cranky customers. There is no doubt that you  will have more happy customers than unhappy, but the more sales you make, the more likely you are to have customers who need you to answer questions or fix a problem.

Imagine what the day after a major holiday looks like for a big retailer. Mile long lines for returns and exchanges. As an online small business owner, your job also includes customer service. And because there’s no buffer between you and a potentially cranky customer, you can go from happy to tears in a matter of seconds.

We already know you are going to do your best and go the extra mile to help your customer and make them feel special. But what about you? Are you approaching customer service with your own health and happiness in mind? Here are some tips to keep you sane.

1) Read the whole email. If it makes you angry, defensive, or want to cry, mark it as unread and walk away.

Customer service is an essential part of running your business. And you don’t want to write a response that is fueled by negative emotions. Writing an email or Etsy message gives customers the protection of being faceless and anonymous and there is a chance that, depending on what the problem is, they may get heated. Especially if you’re dealing with something that was meant to be a present for a loved one.

Before answering that upsetting email, write a reminder note and just step away. This doesn’t mean don’t respond. You will respond soon. But take advantage of the email/messaging system and walk away for a little bit to distance yourself from the negative energy.

2) Talk to someone.

Before answering an upsetting email or message, vent your frustrations and talk about your concerns with someone you know.

Talking to someone, sharing in the frustrations, and yelling can be therapeutic. You’ll get everything off your chest that you want to say to your customer but probably shouldn’t. And you don’t have to go to another business owner, but it can be helpful sometimes. There are discussion boards for handmade business owners and they usually have a few threads going on about difficult customers. If you ever need someone to relate to, seek out some of these forums.

3) Absolutely no excuses.

Life happens. Unhappiness may strike. Or maybe you were just so busy, one order slipped through the cracks. Whatever the reason, don’t respond to a customer with excuses.

Unless you’re emailing the customer BEFORE shipping out their order and letting them know why it will be late or that you need to cancel it, you should not respond with an excuse.

Why? They don’t want or need to know. All they want to know is if, how, and when you are going to fix their problem. And the less they know about your personal life, the less they can direct any negative energy toward it.

4) Be real. Be authentic. Be you.

You are not a big, faceless corporation. A lot of handmade customers come to you because you are a small business owner and not only do they love your gorgeous work, but they want to support you.

So, if you’re not a big, faceless corporation, why are you trying to talk like one? Stop stressing and don’t attempt to wrap your mind around what kind of jargon a “professional” business would use in this situation. If you think of yourself as a professional, then you are already a “professional.” And as long as you remember to apologize, thank them for allowing you to remedy the situation, and use spell check, the way you speak is probably just fine.

Do you have any customer service tips to share with other handmade business owners?