The day in the life of a small business owner

A constant question I get is ”how do you do it all” or ”where do you find the time” and people assume I’m tired, overwhelmed and overworked. On some days, they would be absolutely correct! I know many business owners; in fact, the vast majority of my friends own businesses so I have a lot of people around me who I can relate to, and I know I am not unique in the struggles I have.

I do however understand that these questions are often directed at the fact I work full time as part of a lodge management team as well as owning Wild Dreams, which has many different services or ”branches” as I like to see it and I am also the COO of a global company, Vegan Hospitality. My day can often involve all of these aspects, but I actually enjoy that because I do prefer to have variety in my day, and not do the same thing day in and day out and there are many overlaps and links between everything I do that I may find some research I do for one business directly helps the next one the following week.

Hiring an amazing team has been a real game-changer for me in terms of workload. It was hard initially to recruit the right people and to find the time to do training, but I now have two amazing managers who do the bulk of this for our recruitment services which allows me to free up time to work on other areas of my business.

For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to focus on my business work life. One of the first ever blogs I wrote was a day in my life as a lodge manager so if you are interested in finding out more about that then you can find it on the blog page 1!

Typically, my workday starts briefly at around 7:00 AM when I check my messages and emails to check if there’s anything urgent, I need to attend to because if there is, I’ll need to get on it right away. It isn’t often that I receive messages or emails so early in the morning, but they may be from the evening before as I do get a lot of late messages, that’s a downside of having your number online!

Only about 10% of the time there is something that I need to do this early in the morning, however, I aim to be fully ready for my work day by 9:00 AM. I first try to fit in a short yoga session or a walk – sometimes both. When walking I find my brain is still in ”work mode” but I can think clearly & I will often walk when I have something I need to make a decision on, both in my work and personal life. I also come up with ideas when I am walking. This makes perfect sense to me as our brains go into a relaxed meditative state when walking & this has been proven to be effective at being focused, more productive & successful.

As no two days look exactly the same, I will give you some examples of the sorts of things that I do throughout the day and how I plan my tasks. What is important for any aspiring business owner to know, is that when you own a small business & it’s either just you or a small number of employees, you have to be multi-skilled, be willing to learn new things all the time & do things that you really don’t enjoy or aren’t very skilled in. The term you have to wear ”a lot of hats” is exactly what being a small business owner is like.

Like anyone, there are certain things I’m great at & things I find really hard. My struggle is with numbers. I know many people have the same problem, but I haven’t yet met anyone else who struggles like I do & although I haven’t ever been formally diagnosed, I am sure I have dyscalculia so it’s hard for me to keep track of finances, do invoicing, payments, & don’t even get me started on tax! Luckily, I now have an accountant – yay! So my tax admin is much more manageable than it was when I first started my company. It feels great to be at a stage in my business where I can hire someone who is an expert to do something I find so hard, even with it being such a game changer for me, it still took me many years to get to the point of having an accountant.

I am also not a very tech-minded person, so although my computer skills are good, I have to do a lot of research before I use a new site or a new method of tech. This is where YouTube becomes my best friend! On occasion, I do use an expert to assist me when it is something I really can’t figure out, for example, I make regular updates to my website myself, but I can’t code!

When I am struggling with something & I research it & I finally get it right, I feel great! There is such a sense of achievement in learning a new skill & getting the task done.

There are many things I am good at, I have always been in a role where I have managed a team throughout my career & this is definitely a strength of mine. Building a team for my company has been a different, but great experience & I have a fantastic team of recruiters who work in a way so aligned to my vision. I have done this by creating a unique hiring process which even includes a values exercise, & by creating a culture of openness & collaboration. Although the team work remotely I arrange an annual retreat where we all get together & although I wish I could do this more, the few days together are so important for connection.

I am a very organised person & for me having a to-do list is vital because I have so much in my head at once, so I use a calendar app on my phone. My phone will remind me of all of these tasks at 9:00 AM, which I find helpful, however, it can sometimes be a little bit overwhelming when your phone notifies you multiple times so early in the morning especially if I have quite a lot scheduled that day. Typically, I will have around 4-6 main tasks set for the day, these will take various amounts of time, some may only be a couple of minutes & others may take hours.

I try to stagger all of my tasks for the day but something that I’m not very good at is time management. Out of all of these things, I often will end up not completing everything on my list, but I do prioritise and with things I haven’t gotten to I just move it over to the next available day. I also don’t always allow the right amount of time to complete a task, so something that I think is only going to take an hour may take half a day, but you learn to juggle and prioritise what needs to happen first.

I have many notifications turned off on my phone such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to ensure that I can focus on my day ahead. I also work from four main email addresses so I only have notifications on my most important two even though the others I do check daily, but this may only be once a day as I’m not the only one monitoring these.

I nearly always take a short break at 10:00 o’clock and my rehabilitated animals are well aware of my breakfast time so we normally all ”arrange to meet” at exactly 10 AM. This is probably my favourite time of the day. I take a bit of a breather and sit in the sunshine surrounded by my animals, however, having said this, I also use this opportunity to scroll through social media to keep up to date with what’s happening & trends. I do often schedule casual meetings at this time & sit in my garden & take these. I am definitely a multitasker & chatting while I have my breakfast with the animals around me works for me, although it can sometimes be a bit distracting too.

I really enjoy co-working & I will sometimes arrange this either through a business network I’m part of or with my team.

As Wild Dreams offers many services, I can be contacted at any time without warning by a client or potential client. I do try and reply right away and it would be rare for me to reply after 24 hours because I want to provide a quick efficient and professional service for which we are known, but I do also schedule time slots to correspond with clients normally on a WhatsApp or Zoom call. I feel it’s important to also set boundaries and not take calls if you have scheduled a break. This is something I am really working on, but I am getting better at it.

I check in with my management team every weekday normally via WhatsApp and we also use an app which is an excellent tool so that we can save all correspondence between each other. We have a channel where we can write our meeting agendas for our weekly meeting, this gives us both a chance to catch up and discuss any less urgent matters.

I also have a meeting with the executive team at Vegan Hospitality weekly. It’s so helpful to have a dedicated day/time for weekly meetings & we set clear action steps.

The rest of my workday is mainly divided between assisting clients with HR admin services, preparing for or doing career coaching and creating or working on vegan consulting. All of these services are very diverse, and I will have different projects for different clients.

Social media is a big part of my company’s marketing and nearly every part of my daily duties all some form of social media whether it’s replying to messages or creating & posting content or blog writing.

I have recently done some mindset work around my relationship with social media as I too like many others find it draining at times but it’s an important part of our marketing & it helps to remember that a lot of the content, we are sharing is really helping people.

I usually aim to end my workday at my computer at around 4:30 pm and go for another short walk before it gets dark or head out for a sundowner as I’m lucky enough to live in the bush. I do work on my phone in the evenings, but this tends to be more mindless tasks like creating canvas and some evenings I spend some time on LinkedIn connecting and networking.

As busy as I am, I do believe in having a work/life balance and think that owners and employees do their best work when they are well-rested and not stressed. I am getting better at this, and I do on occasion take days off. It may sound crazy to some people for me to say that, but it is a sacrifice you make as a business owner, especially in the first few years. I personally am always coming up with new ideas and creating projects for myself which I enjoy, it’s not that I have to it’s that I want to and as I pull away from certain areas of my company new ones pop up. I expect I will live in this way for many years to come, but with each day being different to the next.

If you are thinking about starting a business, maybe it’s just an idea you have right now or you may have started to take steps towards opening a company, my main advice to you would be to have a clear vision as to what you want your business to be. For example, what problem does it solve? What is unique about it? What is the mission of the business?

Have clarity on this before you do anything else but at the same time, don’t wait until you feel your business plan is perfect because you may never feel this way. This means you may never start so make sure you start taking the steps to making your dream a reality.

I hope you found this blog interesting to get a bit of an insight into my life. I offer career and business coaching which is something I’m very passionate about so if you want some advice or guidance, to have someone hold you accountable or for someone to listen to your plan or even give a gentle push! Get in touch with me on