Episode #004 5 Things business women can stop feeling guilty about TODAY

Amy discusses the things we are going to stop feeling guilty about as business owners, women in business and working mums.

The real message of this story is: “Feeling guilty doesn’t actually solve anything, it makes you feel worse and leads you to repeat guilty behaviour” 

Podcast info

Episode: #004.

Series: General

Host: Amy Hooke

Guest speaker: None

Topic: 5 Things business women can stop feeling guilty about TODAY

Read transcript

Thanks so much for coming back again this week to listen to the podcast.

Today’s topic is all about guilt. More specifically, the things we’re going to STOP feeling guilty for, as of, right now.

The reason I wanted to talk about this topic is that I’ve noticed there are a lot of things we are made to feel guilty about as business owners – specifically as women in business.

Why am I talking about this? Because women now make up 39% of small business owners.

Let’s start at number one. A great place to start.

#1 Working when people think we should be taking time off

This is something that I experienced after I had my second son. Every so often after he was born and I was at home with him by myself, I would go on social media and post something. Or I’d check my emails and reply. Then I would get responses from people saying, “Hey, what are you doing working? Shouldn’t you be resting? Shouldn’t you be spending time with your baby?”

At first, I thought, “Oh, that’s nice,” but at the same time, I had this feeling in my face. Kind of like a wince – you know, when you forget your glasses on your way to the beach. What’s that feeling? That feeling was, you guessed it, guilt.

I remember thinking to myself, ‘Why should I feel guilty about this? Why should I feel guilty about the fact that my newborn baby sleeps most of the day?’ I thought to myself, ‘Well, if I was having a nap, that would be considered acceptable, and if I was cooking or cleaning my house, perhaps that would be acceptable,’ but for some reason, it wasn’t acceptable that I was doing something ‘work related’.

Now I don’t think the people making these comments were necessarily intending to provoke me into feeling guilty. In fact, I don’t think they were judging me at all. I think what they were doing was being nice, being thoughtful, and on some level, looking out for my well-being. But, what they didn’t actually realise they were doing was implying that I should be behaving a certain way because of a certain situation.

For me, that rule didn’t line up with the situation. Actually, it felt great to be able to be doing a little bit here and there. I really enjoy my work, and I couldn’t imagine myself only being at home, doing household things, and only focusing on the kids the whole time and managing the house.

I love to work, and for me, being a working woman and being a working mum is something that’s important to me, so I enjoy that.

It’s so funny, when I was preparing my podcast and reflecting on this bit, I noticed how I referred to myself as a working woman or a working mum. As if people would ever refer to a man as a working dad or a working man.

I know I don’t need to justify myself, but I enjoy the mental stimulation. I enjoy working on projects, and I love my clients. I love my community. I don’t feel the need to just disappear for whatever period of time. Leading up to the birth, people made comments about the fact I decided to only take two months of maternity leave, sharing their opinions about taking off 12 months and that kind of thing.

I just couldn’t imagine that. I don’t have any judgment towards anyone who does it. In fact, if… Well, I was going to say if I had that luxury, then I would do it too. But the thing is, I’m pretty sure if I had that luxury, I wouldn’t.

That’s just how I am. Different people are made in different ways. We have different desires, different values, different focuses, different life purposes, and so each to their own.

Some women stay at home for 10 years when they have children and they don’t work at all. I think that’s great if that’s what they feel they’re meant to do. If that works for their family, then that’s fantastic.

This is the number one thing we’re going to stop feeling guilty for. We’re going to stop feeling guilty for working when people think we should be taking time off – for whatever reason that might be. People might mind their own business.

#2 Prioritising other things that are not work-related

How often do you get made feel guilty for procrastinating? We are made to feel guilty by ourselves and by others. We look at our to-do list, and we feel guilty for procrastinating. Even marketing messages used by companies in the media hone in on the fact that procrastination is natural to human beings.

Every human being procrastinates, and this morning, I saw a post on Instagram by somebody that I know. She’d posted a photo with the caption that she was spending some time putting up her Christmas tree. The tree looked beautiful by the way, if you’re listening, Kristy! So I thought, ‘Wow, what a beautiful tree,’ but I saw in the comments that Kristy had said she felt that it was time to procrastinate.

My reply to her was, “I like to call it a reorganisation of priorities,” and I said that as a bit of a joke – to go along with what she was saying, but I thought to myself, “Well, it’s true, isn’t it?”

How come when we decide to stop focusing on our business to put up a Christmas tree, we call that procrastinating? When really, it’s simply another priority in our life that we’re now choosing to give attention to?

So, I think doing that was nothing to feel guilty about, but it was actually something to feel proud of. To say, “Hey, I actually dragged myself away from my business to do something that’s also equally important, which is to put up a Christmas tree, which is going to be a blessing to my family.”

Did you say a Christmas tree? Yeah, that’s right. I said a Christmas tree. What’s your problem? You don’t like Christmas trees? Hahaha.

So, there you go. That’s another thing we’re going to stop feeling guilty about.

Prioritising other things that are not work-related.

#3 Charging an hourly rate for our services

The next thing to stop feeling guilty about is a topic that I actually teach on, which is pricing. Even though I teach pricing, one of the first things I say to my clients when they come to me is you don’t have to do package-based pricing, fixed pricing, value pricing, retainers, whatever you want to call it. It’s actually perfectly fine and legitimate to charge by the hour.

Now, there are a lot of experts out there teaching about pricing, and I’m one of them, but I like to think that I’m different in the approach that I do it and that I always take the bigger picture of your business into account and base the way you price on your business model, not on what the experts are saying. It’s not just in the bookkeeping industry that this is happening, but across a wide variety of industries where businesses are being told that the way they’re pricing is wrong, and more specifically, they’re being told that pricing by the hour is wrong.

I want to reassure you that it is not wrong. In fact, I think people who are still pricing on an hourly rate, which is nearly everybody, are made to feel like they’re some kind of an idiot because they’re not doing it the right way. Trust me, if you are pricing by the hour, charging by the hour, you are not an idiot. You are not doing it wrong. In fact, charging by the hour actually works better for some businesses, and it really depends on what your clients need, so this is something we’re going to stop feeling guilty about.

If you have decided not to do packaged pricing, value pricing, or fixed pricing, and you’ve decided you’re going to keep charging by the hour, it is perfectly fine to do so. Right now, you can stop feeling guilty, and you don’t actually ever have to think about it again if you don’t want to.

Now, if you do, that’s another story, but it really doesn’t matter, and that brings me to my next point – the number four thing to stop feeling guilty about.

#4 Not doing the things that other people are doing in their business

With the invention of this amazing tool called social media, we get to see what other people are up to. In the past, we may not have even been aware of what other people were up to. I’ll give you a really great example.

So, I was a bookkeeper for over 20 years, and my early career, it started. It didn’t stop, but very soon I moved into working as an accountant, preparing tax returns and financials and that kind of thing, before I moved into bookkeeping. In my 30s, I started my own bookkeeping business and had to use cloud software to run my business from home.

In my discovery, I found out that there were online communities full of bookkeepers, and I remember the first time I ever joined a group – and there thousands of bookkeepers in this group. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh my goodness’. I actually seriously thought I was the only bookkeeper in the world until I joined that group. I was like, ‘Wow, there’s this whole community of bookkeepers. This is amazing’. Because when you’re just working for one bookkeeping practice and you just see your clients and a handful of bookkeepers who work for you, that’s about it. That’s all you’ve got exposure to, and so back in day, I had no idea what other bookkeepers were doing. I was managing that bookkeeping practice and had no idea that there were a whole bunch of other bookkeepers out there.

I mean, obviously, on some level, I would have known there were other bookkeepers, but I had no sense of those bookkeepers being real. I definitely was looking to see what they were doing, and how they were doing things, and all that. What kind of software programs they were using, what processes they were using, how they were pricing their services and how they were finding their clients. I just wasn’t exposed to any of that. Before social media, we were completely unaware of what our colleagues were doing, but with the invention of social media, we can do positive things like share, encourage one another, learn and teach with each other, but the downside is that we can get into the pitfall of comparison.

Comparison is an absolute killer, because when you compare yourself to someone, the reason that it’s a killer is because of guilt. The guilt that gets produced by you looking at someone and thinking, ‘Oh, should I be doing that? Do you think… should I be doing that?’ If the word ‘should’ is in it, there’s probably some little clue in there that you’re setting some kind of expectation on yourself that you’re meant to be doing things a particular way.

So, would you like to stop feeling guilty about that? Let’s stop feeling guilty about that. Let’s stop feeling guilty about not doing the same things that other bookkeepers are doing because the reality is that your business is different. Your business model is different. You have different clients. If you’re comparing yourself to other bookkeepers and trying to potentially copy them, you don’t fully understand and they don’t fully understand your business, so let’s stop feeling guilty about not doing all the things that other bookkeepers are doing.

If someone implemented X software program and you haven’t yet tried it, then you don’t need to feel guilty. I hate to break this to you, but there are a lot of software programs out there that bookkeepers are not even aware of because they only look at what their friends are doing. So, there could be a software program that could be fantastic to your business that no one ever talks about, so let’s start to have a think about our own business and where we plan to take our own business, and start to measure our success and what we’re doing by what we’re meant to be doing and what we’ve decided to do, rather than comparing ourselves to others.

So, that’s number four. We’re going to stop feeling guilty about not doing what other bookkeepers are doing.

#5 Working on the weekend

Who wants to stop feeling guilty about working on the weekend? Seriously, I sometimes think to myself… ‘If I have to get a bit of work done on a Saturday, I feel guilty’. I’ve even had people make comments towards me if I have to reply to an email on a Saturday saying, “Hey, what are you doing working on a Saturday?” It’s like, “Well, you are”. For some reason, I guess people expect me not to be working on a Saturday, and the truth is, sometimes I work on a Saturday morning or a Saturday afternoon, not because I necessarily have to do it, but because sometimes, Saturday afternoon or Saturday mornings are nice quiet time where I can get a couple of things done where I don’t have things pressing on me during the week, so that’s completely fine.

I have Fridays off, so Saturdays… It’s fine to work Saturday. Some people enjoy working on Saturday. It’s just a different vibe on a Saturday, which I really like. It’s a bit more relaxed, and I’m a big believer that we need to take some time off each week to be able to refresh and renew our vision, and I do know that if you continually work every single weekend, you can end up burning out, and that has happened to me before in the past – just really overdoing it. Having timeout is great, but why should you feel guilty for doing a bit of work on Saturday morning? Or if you want to work a whole day on a Saturday, that’s actually completely up to you, so that’s something that you can stop feeling guilty about.

Obviously, if you know you’re not looking after yourself… For example, I’ve got a stress test that you can take, and you can have a look and see if there’s any significant events or things happening in your life that’s causing you huge amount of stress or leading you to potential burnout, then it’s really good to have a look at that, and take stock, and to really be serious about looking after your health. But it’s not something you should feel guilty about, because the problem with feeling guilty as well is that it doesn’t actually solve anything. It just makes you feel worse, and often, it leads you to doing the behaviour that you’ve been feeling guilty about. It actually causes you to do it more for some reason.

If you’re in that space of feeling guilty, you think, ‘Oh, well, I’ve done it. I may as well keep doing it’. It’s like when you have a piece of chocolate, and then you think, ‘Oh, well, I feel guilty about having that piece of chocolate, so I’m just going to eat the whole block’. It sometimes can have that sort of self-fulfilling kind of momentum there, so anyway, so let’s stop feeling guilty about that.

So, what else can we stop feeling guilty about? Any other ideas? Just have a think and let me know. You can reply to me or you can post in the Facebook group. What’s something that you’ve been feeling guilty about that you’d love to stop feeling guilty about and that you’re making a decision to stop feeling guilty about? Anyway, thanks for listening, and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.