How to find work/life balance—with Sugarlash PRO CEO Courtney Buhler
With meditation studios popping up like coffee chains, and yoga classes making their way into elementary school curriculums, it’s no secret that our society is making efforts to slow down. But 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 talk about the heart of an entrepreneur, finding healthy boundaries, and Netflix—on doctor’s orders.
You started Sugarlash PRO almost 4 years ago, now. How has your sense of balance changed in that time?
I think in the beginning when you start any new business there’s this hustle mode that you go into and you kind of sleep, eat and breathe your business. And I think as you solidify and you gain market traction in your industry you are kind of able to systemize it, get into a better daily routine and settle down a little bit. Outsourcing also really helps with balance because when you do have those times that you can step away, you know you have a team that is dedicated and in place to 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. It’s always said by entrepreneurs that starting a business is a sacrifice, and I think most people don’t understand what that sacrifice is until they start their own business. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, whether you’re starting a construction company or are opening a restaurant, not only are you having to perform the service or sell a product, but you’re having to do everything behind the scenes. I heard someone at a conference say that entrepreneurs are all a little bit neurotic and I think the more that I’m in business, the more I see that the people that do really well are a little bit off their rocker. Myself included! Entrepreneurs tend to put themselves out of balance more easily because they are over-achievers. So we have 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. People that own their own businesses will always be struggling to not work at all hours of the night. If an idea pops into their head 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 maybe even more so for those around you. Because as an entrepreneur you could care less if you’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 big thing. My husband and I always put our phones down at dinner time, and sometimes into the evening as well. Sometimes I even put my phone away from my bed at night, otherwise I just get ideas, and am constantly 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 about being productive. But my doctors actually ordered me to find a show on Netflix and watch 30-60 minutes of TV a day, because they could see that I was never able to turn my brain off. I don’t really like TV, I think it’s a distraction, but now I think of it as a brain rest. I like to have bubble baths, and I also really, really just like going out for dinner with my family. I like not having to think about cooking, and having us all seated together in an uninterrupted space. No one’s rushing away from the table, and we can all just spend a good hour together talking.
Do you have any tips for new lash artists to develop healthy habits now?
When you’re starting out, it’s really tempting to cram as many services as you can into your day and put other stuff on the back burner. But then you end up working 12 hours a day, everyday! I always recommend when you’re starting out that 75% of your day should be spent on services and 25% is spent on social media, web stuff, advertising, admin…etc. And obviously, as soon as you can start delegating, do it! And if you can’t, then even just an online booking system is great. As much as you can, streamline the booking process and the services you offer so you can have 2 hours a day to just 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 was singing all the time. And when I started as an entrepreneur I completely gave that up. And if you have something 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. Do what you need to do now to stay healthy, and 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. Scale it back right now in order to achieve long-term success as a person.