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November 28, 2023

Episode 120: How to Pursue Your Personal Priorities as a Small Business Owner


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As a small business owner or leader, it can be very easy to let your business become your top priority—especially when you find joy and purpose in what you do. It can also be easy to convince yourself that your business only affects you—not your family, friends, or the other people and activities that matter to you. However, that’s a lie.

Running a small business is no easy feat, and unless you take the time to define and intentionally pursue your personal priorities, you’re almost guaranteed to reach a point where your business runs your life and affects every relationship you have.

With this in mind, we want to encourage you to use this episode of Priority Pursuit as a personal priority check. In this episode, Victoria walks you through the process she uses to define, maintain, and pursue her personal priorities in hopes that her process—as well as the lessons she’s learned as a small business owner—will help you build a life you love.

 

First, you have to determine your priorities.

In order to pursue your priorities, the first thing you need to do is determine your priorities (what’s most important to you) and put them in order of most to least significant.

You might think this sounds unnecessary because you already “know” what your priorities are; however, unless you take the time to clearly define what’s most important to you, lack of clarity will likely prevent you from pursuing your priorities as well as you could. So, create your list and put your priorities in the order you see fit.

In case you need examples, your personal priorities might include your faith, your spouse or significant other, family, friends, self care, exercise, or whatever else. These are your priorities, and there aren’t any wrong answers.

Note: Victoria recommends including your work somewhere in your list so that you can decide where work ranks among the other important aspects of your life.

If you start to feel nervous as you make your list because you realize that you haven’t been pursuing your priorities well, don’t worry. We’ll discuss how you can fix this.

 

Exactly How to Pursue Your Personal Priorities as a Small Business Owner

After you have your list, you need to determine how you’re going to pursue your priorities. Because, it’s one thing to know what’s most important to you, but it’s another thing to actually pursue these things. 

In Victoria’s experience, there are two ways to effectively do this:

 

1. By forming habits, rhythms, or triggers.

First, you can develop habits, rhythms, or triggers. For the sake of this conversation, habits or rhythms are things that you can do on a daily—or at least weekly—basis. 

For example, as Victoria shares in this episode, her morning routine is very much rooted in her priorities. Every weekday, she gets up at 5:15 am to read her Bible, which allows her to pursue her faith priority. Then, she packs her husband’s lunch and makes his coffee. Zach’s love language is acts of service, so this is a simple way that she can serve and prioritize her relationship with her husband. Then, she goes to a class at the gym at 6:30 am, which is how she takes care of her exercise priority. 

More Examples: For more habit, rhythm, and trigger examples, listen to the audio of this episode at the top of the page or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

In this step, all you need to do is look at your priorities and determine ways—even if they’re small ways—that you can actively pursue your priorities on a daily or weekly basis so that pursuing your priorities becomes habitual and part of your everyday or weekly routine.


Book Recommendation: If you’d like to learn more about forming strong habits, we highly recommend Atomic Habits by James Clear. 


 

2. By intentionally putting time on your calendar.

Developing habits will get you far, but it’s also important to put time on the calendar for the people and activities that matter most to you.

For example, perhaps family is one of your priorities. Everyone’s family and season of life are different, but to pursue this priority, something you might want to consider is how often you want to spend time with your family. 

For example, maybe you live close to your family and can schedule monthly dinners. Or, perhaps you live far from your family and visiting them for a week every year is a great way to prioritize them. 

Again, there aren’t any wrong answers. But, in order to pursue your priorities, you need to be intentional with your time and calendar. As a small business owner or leader, you likely don’t have a lot of “free” time. As a result, unless you plan for your priorities, you will likely fail to pursue them well.  

 

It’s important to assess your priorities on a regular basis. 

Next, on a regular basis—whether that be monthly, quarterly, annually, all of the above, or whatever works best for you—it’s important to assess whether or not you’re pursuing your priorities well and if not why. 

To do this, Victoria recommends both looking at your calendar and taking time to reflect on your relationships. 

For example, if you decide a monthly assessment works best for you, at the end of every month, look at your calendar and determine if you spent whatever your definition of “enough” time is pursuing your priorities. 

Then, think about each and every relationship on your priority list and ask yourself if you’re pursuing that relationship well. In other words, are you content in that relationship or did you fall short that month?

 

If you aren’t pursuing your priorities well, it’s important to determine why & what you’re idolizing. 

If you find that you aren’t pursuing one or more of your priorities well, it’s important to determine why.

Now, we know it can be easy to want to get tactical immediately by starting new habits or by adding time to your calendar, but in order to have lasting change, you need to understand why you’ve put that priority on the back burner. You can do this by asking yourself the question “Why?” until you get to the root of the issue.  

For example, as Victoria shares in this episode, during the first few years of building her photography business, she wasn’t great about making time for family and friends. According to Victoria, she should’ve had a conversation with herself that went something like this:

 

Victoria, you’ve been neglecting your friends and family lately. Why?

Because I’m really busy. 

Why?

Because I have a lot of work to do. 

Why?

Because I put a lot on my plate.

Why?

Because I find my value in my work. 

Why?

Because work is an idol for me. 

 

Now, we’ve talked about idols in past episodes of Priority Pursuit, but long story short, within the Christian faith, an idol is anything you put before God. That said, Victoria’s personal definition of an idol is anything you put before God or your priorities. 

Please note: If you aren’t a believer, please don’t discount this idea. You can still have idols that affect your priorities. 

Chances are, if your priorities are out of alignment or there’s an area of tension in your life, you’re making something in your life an idol—meaning you’re making it more important than anything else—and one or more of your priorities are being neglected. Truth be told, as a small business owner or leader, there’s a very strong chance that your business has become an idol.

Once you’ve gotten to the bottom of why, determine what changes you need to make. For this step, all you need to do is decide when and how you’re going to make time for your priorities by either forming habits around them or adding time for these priorities to your calendar. 

For instance, if your faith life is currently being neglected, this might mean waking up 30 minutes earlier on weekdays to read, reflect, and pray. Or, if you’re failing to prioritize your spouse, this might mean scheduling regular date nights. 

Again, there are no right or wrong answers. However, unless you’re in constant pursuit of the things that matter most to you, these people and activities will inevitably be put on the back burner, because—especially in busy work seasons—it’s easy to take our loved ones for granted, neglect our personal needs, and become hyper-focused on our work.  

Note: As you assess your priorities, you might find that your priorities need to change. Every season of life looks different and that’s okay! Don’t be afraid to adjust your priority list.

 

IMPORTANT: Make sure your business allows you to pursue your priorities. 

As a small business owner, you need to ask yourself an important, possibly hard question on a regular basis. “Is my business enabling me or preventing me from pursuing my personal priorities?”

As Victoria shares in this episode, she wishes she would’ve asked herself this before building her wedding photography business. Victoria says, “As I built my photography business, I truly didn’t think about how it would affect my personal priorities. While I loved the wedding industry and truly enjoyed spending my Saturdays photographing couples in tuxes and gowns and high-end florals and cakes, I—embarrassingly—didn’t think about how being a wedding photographer—which requires working nights and weekends—would affect my marriage or other relationships until I experienced the negative effects.”

Please don’t misunderstand. There are going to be seasons in running a small business where you have to put your head down, work harder than most, and likely put your priorities on the backburner for a short amount of time. But, if your small business is constantly taking a toll on your personal life, changes likely need to be made. 

If you’d like help determining what you can change, tune in to “Episode 116: When & How to Pivot Your Small Business.” 

At the end of the day, what’s the point of building a business if it can’t give you a life you love or allow you to be the person you’re called to be?

Next week, we’ll be back to discussing business growth, systems, and marketing tactics as per usual, but we hope this episode serves as a good reminder to check in with yourself and your priorities. 

 

Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode

 

Click to save 35% on HoneyBook—the all-in-on CRM that saves 45 minutes on administrative tasks per day

 


 

The Priority Pursuit Podcast is a podcast dedicated to helping small business owners define, maintain, and pursue both their personal and business priorities so they can build lives and businesses they love.

You can find The Priority Pursuit Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Stitcher, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

 


 

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Victoria Rayburn explains how to pursue your personal priorities as a small business owner.

 

 

Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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