Small Business Environment was first published on Women in Focus.

Women in Focus is a website and initiative by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.  It is a place for women to be inspired, informed and connected with other women in business in Australia and around the world.  Angela Vithoulkas, CEO of VIVO Cafe Group, radio broadcaster of Eagle Waves Radio and public speaker, will be the Guru on the Business Beat section and will be providing weekly articles on all things small business.

small business vs personal lifeIt takes a lot to run any business, but in my experienced and slightly biased opinion, it takes a lot more to run a small business than a “big” one. Yes, I am being somewhat facetious, but I think you all know me well enough by now to expect a bit of this thrown in occasionally. The environment that you and your business exists and operates in determines so much, everything actually. The scale of small is so much more passionate.

At some point – for some owners its sooner rather than later for others not, you become a part of your business DNA and visa versa. I’m not by any means stating that you are chained to it, although that is a valid stage in small business growth; I’m saying that you can’t help becoming connected to it. If one part sneezes – your business environment, then the other part catches a cold – you in your personal environment.

So let’s take a look at these “environments”, what are they and why do they matter?

Private Vs Business

Your small business environment reflects the field the business operates in, the space it occupies right now and where it fits in the economic food chain. Take me as the example. My café sits in the hospitality world which is notoriously known for high staff turnover, intense labour ratio, low unit sale prices, growing overheads, and long hands on work hours. It’s an adrenaline rush to say the least. We also operate in a very competitive geographical world – there are approx 469 other cafes in a 15 minute walking distance of me as well. So my work world is intense, hard to believe it wouldn’t affect my personal life right?

And there in begins the turmoil that I sometimes face in my business environment when it collides into my personal space. It’s hard to get in the party mood when my feet are so swollen from being on them for 16 odd hours. It’s even harder to be in polite company and make small talk when all I want to do is VENT. But who would understand about temperamental chefs, pedantic customers, young inexperienced staff and unpredictable suppliers? Who would put up with my whining and what I’m sure is rambling of a most annoying nature?

Environmental Clashes

I guess at this point some of you may be thinking why I do it? It’s what I do, but it’s not all I do. And you do learn to deal with it and not all days are of the collision variety. It has been 27 odd years of honing my skills but nevertheless, my business environment can and does affect my other lives. I can be somewhat resentful about it, especially when it bounces around my family and friends, but we women sway to the superhuman spectrum and it all works out eventually…sort of…sometimes….not.

Okay, let’s give equal time here to the personal environment as well, in the effort of at least appearing to have a perception of work / life balance. Seems to be something a whole government department should be directing though, take some pressure off me lol.

Personal Space Invasion

It’s not an ideal situation but as an owner and operator in business, sometimes I don’t get as much free time as I would like. Time for the violins right? What about when your personal life INVADES your business? Boyfriends and husbands, kids and girlfriends, parents and siblings. Oh, then there is you as well. I’m not going to comment on husbands since I don’t have one, but using the boyfriend template as a benchmark, it can get messy. There are those times when you go home looking forward to a nice quite evening to balance the chaos of the day and someone else has a very different idea. This can often develop and interfere with the next day at work. Intentional or not, we are human after all, and these things happen.

The worries and stress of our other lives outside of business can have a deep and negative impact of your business. I call it taking my eye off the ball. It’s not planned, it’s not ideal and it most definitely isn’t on the strategic list. Yet it is a part of life and its all in the magic of how we deal with it that makes the biggest difference. This section I haven’t quite mastered, still got my learners permit.

Have you embraced your environments or given up one over the other? Either way, your choices I’m sure were not easy.

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