With meditation studios popping up like Starbucks', and yoga making its way into elementary school curriculums, it’s no secret that our society is trying to slow down. But with all of the meetings, marketing, and endless flow of ideas, how does an entrepreneur find balance amongst the daily hustle of building an empire? I sat down with Courtney Buhler, CEO and founder of Sugarlash PRO and LashPRO Academy to discuss the heart of an entrepreneur, finding healthy work boundaries, and Netflix—on doctor’s orders.
You started Sugarlash PRO almost 4 years ago, now. How has your sense of work/life balance changed in that time?
I think when you start any new business, there’s this hustle mode that you go into where you kind of sleep, eat and breathe your business. And I think as you solidify and you gain market traction in your industry, you're kind of able to systemize it, get into a better daily routine, and settle down a little bit. Outsourcing really helps with balance because on the occasion that you can step away, you know you have a dedicated team that will handle all of the other day-to-day things.
Why do you think unbalanced lifestyles are so pervasive among entrepreneurs?
I think when you’re starting out it just goes with the territory. I've heard it said by many entrepreneurs that starting a business is a sacrifice, and I think most people don’t appreciate what that sacrifice is until they actually start their own business. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, whether you’re starting a clothing company or opening a restaurant, you're not only having to perform the service or sell a product, but you’re having to do everything behind the scenes as well. I heard someone say once that entrepreneurs are all a little bit neurotic and the more that I’m in business the more I see that the people who do really well are a little bit off their rocker—myself included! It's easy for entrepreneurs to put themselves out of balance more easily because we're are over-achievers. So we need to keep ourselves in check.
How easy is it for entrepreneurs to develop a sense of balance?
I think at the heart of it, it’s always going to be a struggle. If an idea pops into their head in the middle of the night, they’re not going to wait until the next day, because that’s not what entrepreneurs do. It doesn’t feel like work, it just feels like your passion. But I think it’s important to get regularity for yourself and even more so for those around you. Because an entrepreneur you could care less if they’re working all hours of the night, but what are your kids seeing?
What are some of the habits you’ve adopted to stay grounded, and to keep work from taking up all of your time?
Evenings are a huge thing for us. My husband and I always put our phones down at dinner time, and sometimes into the evening as well. I've even got into the habit of putting my phone away from my bed at night, because I'll just get ideas, and be on my phone to crazy hours! So now I put it charging downstairs instead of by my bed.
What is your favourite way to unwind after a busy day?
I went for years without watching TV because I was always concerned with being productive. But a couple of years ago I went to my doctor, and she could see what a hard time I had turning my brain off, so she actually ordered me to find a show on Netflix and watch 30-60 minutes of TV a day. I still don’t really like TV, but now I think of it more like a brain rest than a distraction. I also like to have bubble baths, and I really, really love going out for dinner with my family. I like not having to think about cooking, and just having us all sitting together in an uninterrupted space. No one’s rushing away from the table, and we can all just sit around talking.
Do you have any tips for new lash artists to develop healthy habits now?
Especially when you’re starting out it’s really tempting to cram as many services as you can into your day and put the behind-the-scenes stuff on the back burner. But then you end up working 12 hours a day, everyday! I always recommend that when you’re starting out, you should spend 75% of your day on services and 25% on social media, web stuff, advertising, admin…etc. Then obviously, as soon as you can start delegating, do it! And if you can’t, even just an online booking system will save you a ton of time. As much as you can, streamline your booking process and services so that you can have a couple hours a day to do the rest of the stuff you need to do.
Any final words of advice?
Don’t give up your passions. I grew up singing, and everyone knew me as a singer. I sang at school, church, competitions—everything. I sang all the time. But when I started my first business I completely gave that up. If you have a passion like that that’s such an integral part of who you are, and you give that up for your business, you’ll end up resenting your business and your work because of it. My advice to you is do what you need to do to keep your relationships healthy and your passions alive. Continue doing those things that you love that have nothing to do with business. Even if it means not making as much money as you could make, make your relationships and your passions a priority in order to achieve long-term success as a person.