I am a busy lady! It’s no wonder that after running my own business, maintaining a social media presence, spending time with my family, walking 2 dogs, supporting various charities and trying to find some personal time, there isn’t any time to spare! Sometimes I even wonder how I’m going to make it to the end of a busy week. But somehow I cope and everything gets done. My business, Tail Wags Helmet Covers, was started 4 ½ years ago when my sons were teenagers. To a certain extent they were already independent in that they were able to get themselves to and from school on public transit. They didn’t need a lot of help with homework except for the odd time when they’d ask me to quiz them before a test. Most after-school activities were located at school so there wasn’t a lot of additional driving to and from activities. That said, they still had a tough time adjusting to my new work schedule because I went from being a full-time mom to a full-time business owner. They missed the homemade meals and the time I used to spend with them watching our favourite television shows, playing board games and just hanging out. It was also an adjustment for my husband. He had to pick up the slack around the house. Luckily, he was supportive of my decision to work again and, therefore, pitched in because I couldn’t have done it without him. Even I didn’t realize how much was involved in running a business. Of course, I knew I would be designing and sewing new styles as well as selling my product. But I certainly didn’t realize approximately 50% of my time would be spent on marketing. And I didn’t know where to find wholesale suppliers for fabrics and notions or who to ask about export taxes and duties. In that sense, the learning curve was huge. But I wasn’t worried about making mistakes along the way, as I knew some errors were inevitable. I just plunged in headfirst and, fortunately, most of my decisions were good ones. People often wonder if I have a business degree (it certainly would have helped) but unfortunately I took a Bachelor of Arts in Economics as well as a Bachelor of Education. The Economics degree was a waste of time but my education degree has proven to be a great asset. Teaching gave me an appreciation for the importance of imaginary play and dress-up in early childhood. So when I was trying to think of ways to make it FUN for kids to wear their safety helmets (this is the premise behind my products), I combined my teaching instinct together with my creative skills as a costume designer and established Tail Wags helmet covers. So why am I running a blog, twitter and facebook site as well as maintaining my company’s web site? It’s because in today’s market, the social media should be an integral part of every company’s marketing plan. That said, I’m not always blogging about my business. In fact, I’m often writing about raising 2 special needs kids, my dogs or whatever else strikes me as interesting during the day. Initially I was reluctant to engage the social media world but I’ve grown to enjoy the online camaraderie of the blog groups of which I am a member. It’s an incredibly supportive world at your fingertips! My dogs are my passion … second only to my sons! They are the first to greet me in the morning with a wet kiss and welcome me home with a wagging tail. My eldest dog even brings me my slippers. Yes, they are a lot of responsibility but I can’t imagine my home without them. Besides, I love walking my dogs in the ravine every morning. It keeps me active, yanks me away from my desk and gives me a chance to reflect on life. I have always been active in volunteer work because it’s important to give back to one’s community but, obviously, my time is limited these days. However, I’m able to support various charities through my business by donating 25% of sales when I attend a charity fundraising event. One of my favourite charities is Ontario Track 3. They are a volunteer based organization that teaches special needs children and youth to ski and snowboard. If you’re a skier, you’ve probably noticed them on the slopes with a student in a “sit ski”. Because of the dedication of these volunteers, kids who might otherwise be restricted to a wheelchair are discovering ability through snow sports. So how do I recharge my batteries in order to maintain my crazy schedule? One of the things that suffered when I started my business was my fitness routine. I used to be a regular at the gym but that was one of the first things to go. In order to keep myself fit in the shortest time possible, I’ve hired a personal trainer twice a week. By keeping fit, my energy levels are higher! I’m also an avid reader. I meet with a group of friends once a month for our book club but I typically read 3 novels a month instead of the required one. Reading is my way of turning off the world late at night. I also get together with a monthly business women’s support group. They are my friends but we’re also mentors for each other in our respective businesses. And, of course, I try to spend as much time as possible with my family especially during the family dinner hour. Are you a busy person too? What are you juggling and what’s your secret to keeping a balance?
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