This blog is a part of our series highlighting and celebrating Black and Women founders within the subscription industry. With thousands of SUBTA members, we’re proud to tell their stories. Other blogs featured in this series include Unboxing Splendies: CEO Anthony Coombs on Gender Collaborations & Race in the Subscription World, Creating Black Representation in the Publishing Industry with Call Number Box, and How Work Space Spark Launched & Became Successful in Spite of Covid-19.
The United States ranks number 29 out of 38 countries in work-life balance, according to OECD Better Life Index. Starting a subscription business has its challenges, and it’s important to manage your time efficiently so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
The SUBTA community is filled with great insights and lessons learned. To better understand work-life balance as a subscription innovator, we’re sharing knowledge from eight amazing entrepreneurs who spoke at recent SUBTA panels: Nia-Tayler Clark, Donna Maria, Anthony Coombs, Kalish Nesbitt, Jill Lodato, Julie Ball, Saidah Farrell, and Akeelah Kuraishi.
Being an entrepreneur takes a lot out of you, especially with work-life balance. It’s no secret that if you want to be a successful business owner, you have to put in the work. This can mean working long hours, making financial sacrifices, and often putting your business above all else.
Gary Vaynerchuk, founder and CEO of VaynerMedia, believes that start-up founders should work more than 18 hours a day in their first year.
“I think one of the biggest reasons so many people go out of business in the first year, first two years […] is they don’t realize how hard it is and how all in you have to be,” Vaynerchuk said.
Although working a large number of hours may increase your chances of successfully running a business, it can significantly damage your health and work-life balance. People working more than 55 hours a week are at a 33% greater risk of stroke and 13% greater risk of coronary heart disease, according to a study published by The Lancet.
With that being said, it’s important to find a middle ground — some form of work-and-life balance that benefits both you and your business. Thanks to the wonderful SUBTA community, we have several insights that can help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals.
Life-Work-Balance Tips From Subscription Entrepreneurs
Potential For No Work-Life Balance
Anthony Coombs and Vaynerchuk share a similar mentality about what it takes to run a successful business. Coombs kicked off the Black History Month Panel by offering a critical piece of advice:
“If you do have a job in which you’re working at during the day, without question when you’re starting out, you may not have a work-life balance,” Coombs said.
Coombs believes that subscription-based businesses aren’t built between 9am and 5pm but instead, in his experience, from 6pm to 3am. Either way, you will have to dedicate all of your time to your business.
Having a family can also be a huge factor in determining the right work-and-life balance. It’s important to understand that some things need uninterrupted time, and that requires prioritization and intentional conversations with family at home.
As a mother and entrepreneur, Julie Ball learned that “it’s not like a balance where you’re going to find that middle point.” Her idea of a middle ground was having her family help with the business plus having clear expectations on household responsibilities and finances, which assisted with her work-and-life balance.
Before launching a subscription business, Jill Lodato owned and operated a preschool for 20+ years. While being both a single mom and a business owner, she prioritized making time for her family.
“I just did a lot of block scheduling and definitely made sure when it was family time,” Lodato said. “If I was making dinner, I didn’t have my phone on… I did get up early in the morning and did all of my responding to my emails.”
After two decades, the pandemic forced her to close the preschool temporarily, and Lodato had to pivot her life-work balance. That’s when she combined her love for kids and baking and launched Kids Baking Club. Now, one of her sons is part of her marketing team and owns a percentage of her business.
If you have a family, try incorporating them into your business. This can benefit them with educational experience, seeing first hand the hard work it takes to run a business, and helping explore potential career opportunities.
For example, Saidah Farrell started her subscription business when her kids were young. She included them from the start and “they gained a work ethic like no other,” she said.
Self-care looks different for everyone in the area of life-work balance. It encompasses all of the things an individual does in order to take care of their physical and mental health. A few examples include taking a breath, physical exercise to minimize stress, going outside for fresh air and Vitamin D, and creating a comfortable, loving workspace.
For Farrell, self-care was taking time alone after a long day of working on her business before her kids gave her “the barrage of what happened today,” she said. “They came home from school and they needed me, and I needed to decompress.”
Similarly, Nia-Tayler Clark is running her subscription box as a full-time high school educator and a single mom to a 3-year-old son. Still in the early phases of her startup, Clark independently manages every aspect of the business including customer service, printing labels, packing boxes, and more. Her self-care is the key to achieving a balance to manage her business.
“I figured out that when I wasn’t okay, my business was not okay; my son was not okay. And so that ultimately helped my business thrive and start to look like a business,” Clark said.
Having a self-care routine can significantly impact the way you run your subscription business. Being in a healthy physical and mental state sets you up for success as an entrepreneur. When you’re taken care of, so is your business and your customers.
We can’t do it all. Maybe at the start of your business, like Nia-Tayler Clark, you’ll manage all facets of your brand. But there comes a point when burning out is inevitable and you’ll need help. Implementing practical solutions into your business will improve your time management and lead to success.
Donna Maria launched her trade organization 21 years ago. As a membership subscription, processing renewals two decades ago looked very different than it does now. Without automation systems in place, Maria had to do everything manually.
When hiring someone new, the onboarding process can be time consuming and challenging as you work to get that employee well versed in the business’s projects, goals, and purpose. Kalish Nesbitt recommends Loom, a video-messaging and screen-sharing service.
The platform enables you to record yourself completing and explaining a task simultaneously that your peers or staff can refer to later.
There are endless free and paid resources to support your subscription; identify practical, efficient solutions to save time and money for you and your business.
When growing a subscription, there comes a time when additional help will become a necessity. Here are two outsourcing tips from our panelists:
- Delegate the task you dislike the most or know how to do the least.
Maria used to create graphics using Canva. Despite loving to play around with the colors, fonts, text, and icons, she admitted that it wasn’t her strong suit. She hired a graphic designer to truly have the best graphics for her business.
Coombs recommends doing the same.
“Whatever it is that is sucking up the majority of your time that you hate to do, you want to fulfill that position,” he said. “Because even if you’re good at it, if you’re doing something you don’t enjoy and that is taking up a lot of your time, it’s going to drain you. So make sure to hire for whatever it is that you dislike the most first.”
- Hire a virtual assistant.
There are plenty of tedious tasks that are part of running a subscription business. You already have enough on your plate, so it’s time to delegate. Usually, Nesbitt’s clients’ first hire is a virtual assistant “because normally, you want to offload those administrative tasks,” she said.
Similarly, Ball’s first hire was a virtual assistant. She realized that there are very talented people out there who love to do what you might hate doing. Ball hired a virtual assistant because negative comments would get to her and “I didn’t want to do that part of my business anymore,” she said.
Her virtual assistant provided support for her inbox and Facebook community. Once she delegated those tasks, she was able to identify other things that could be handed off to someone else.
Entrepreneurship requires hard work and dedication. While finding a work-life balance can be difficult, it’s still possible.