When you think of someone running three businesses, you probably imagine 80-hour work weeks, but Dawn Scott manages to do it without sacrificing her life. Here are the tools and practices that make it possible to juggle it all.
Most entrepreneurs and small business owners are familiar with other people not understanding what the heck you do and why. Your friends ask, “You can make money doing that?” Your parents pester, “Why don’t you just get a ‘real’ job?”
Well, I’ve experienced this threefold because I run three small businesses: boutique accounting firm Gratiam Consulting, content creation company The Empowered CPA, and blow dry bar GLAMbar. I get questions not only from friends and family, but also from other business owners, especially when they learn my consulting business is successful enough that I’m turning away clients. “Aren’t you leaving money on the table?” they ask. “Wouldn’t it be easier to focus on growing that one business?
Maybe it would be easier, but I wouldn’t have my work life any other way. I love getting to expand my impact through my businesses, helping different types of people in different capacities. Working on a variety of project types keeps me excited about my work by ensuring that no two days are the same, and makes it feel more fulfilling because I’m impacting so many people at different stages of their lives. Plus, I love knowing that I’ve taken a very rigid industry and molded it into something that suits me.
But this structure obviously doesn’t come without its challenges, especially since I’m not the type of entrepreneur who is willing to hustle for 80 hours a week. When I left corporate life, it was because I wanted to create more time for my family, my health, and my mental well-being. Even while running three businesses, keeping space for all of that is a priority.
I know there are others out there like me: multi-passionate entrepreneurs who have a wealth of business ideas and are determined to find a way to make them all work together. For those people, here are a few strategies that have helped me keep my three companies running (and growing!) without sacrificing the other things I value in life.
I Thought Carefully About My Business “Portfolio”
I’ll start off by saying that I think the mix of different types of businesses I have—and what they each require from me—is part of what helps me succeed.
For one, I didn’t launch three businesses from the get-go. Instead, I worked on my consulting business for a few years and got it to the point where it was fairly stable, with new clients coming in 100 percent from referrals and a solid waitlist, before I turned my attention to another company. I think trying to do business development for three new ventures at once would have been challenging.
I also thought carefully about how much each business would need from me week to week. As a client services business in a highly regulated (and deadline-driven) industry, my consulting practice requires the most attention from me and is the least flexible on time. If I tried to take on another business with similar needs, I could see myself burning out fast. Instead, my content creation business leaves me with a lot of flexibility to adjust my schedule when urgent needs come up for my other companies. Similarly, I have a partner in the blow dry bar, which means all the responsibility isn’t on me.
I Regularly Remember That Saying No to Some Things Means Saying Yes to Others
It’s an unfortunate law of the universe that when you add on another business, you don’t get to add on more hours to your day. Instead, I have to constantly remind myself that everything I take on is going to take time away from something else, and that means making hard choices about what I’m going to cut.
For instance, when I started my digital content company, I knew that I was going to need five to six hours per week to create this content. If I wanted to do that without sacrificing family or personal time (or sleep), those hours were going to have to come from somewhere else. So I made the tough decision to stop taking on any new consulting clients. That meant leaving money on the table, but I knew it was worth it to me to be able to help more people through digital content, build a more passive income stream, and do it all without working myself into the ground.