Mary’s Musings
It’s Time to Define Your Identity (Because You’re More Than a Groomer!) title
digital illustration of a woman looking in a mirror with the reflection wearing a different wardrobe
by Mary Oquendo
It is easy to fall into the trap of allowing your work to define you. After all, you spend so much time, money and energy to ensure its success. What starts as a clear division of you from your business becomes a fine line, and before you know it, there is no line, and your business has your identity wrapped around its fingers. And now, the typical day-to-day obstacles of running a business—such as stagnant sales, poor reviews, questioned protocols and so forth—become personal attacks rather than the opportunity to review how your company operates.

We all know the importance of setting good boundaries with our clients, but the most significant boundary that should have been set—the one between you and your business—is taken for granted. Like a bad client, our business begins to walk all over us. We start making decisions without the opportunity to review them because it isn’t just that the company is wrong, it’s your reputation that’s on the line.

This lack of separation is not something that happens overnight; it’s gradual. You only notice once you’re posting angry responses to reviews and to other groomers who talk about different methods utilized in their businesses. So how do you know if you, too, have blurred the line between you and your business?

To start, ask yourself these eight questions:

  1. How much time do you spend thinking about work at the end of your day? If your response is, “What end of day?” then there is no separation, and you’re probably overworked, over-managed and burnt out.
  2. How do you describe yourself? Can you do it without using the words business owner or groomer? Your occupation is not who you are. This one is tough, but it should be easy. We’re so used to being defined by our roles that we forget we’re people.
  3. How much time off do you have in a 168-hour week? Be honest with yourself. Where are you in that 40-168 range? When was the last time you took a vacation? Overworking and never taking a vacation is not a badge of honor. You don’t have to go anywhere or spend money; just don’t work.
  4. How much work are you doing in your business because only you can do it right? Think about hiring out for different aspects of your business if you can afford to.
  5. What do you do for fun (unrelated to work)? Do you have any hobbies?
  6. How would you feel if you had to choose a different profession tomorrow?
  7. How often do you go to social media for a rebuttal or to tear down what someone else is doing?
  8. Do you feel excited or exhausted when you think of your business?
So, what can you do to fix the lack of separation? This may not be an easy or painless fix, and you may have to bring other professionals in to help you, but here a few suggestions to get you started:
  1. Set a beginning and end to your day. If your day ends at 5:00, leave at 5:00 and don’t accept or return calls to clients until the following day during your designated work hours.
  2. Take a vacation. Close down your business for a week. If you can’t shut down because you planned on income coming in 52 weeks a year rather than 50, it’s time to sit down with a business coach or accountant and rework your pricing.
  3. Know when to delegate and hire out. Need help figuring out where to start? Get a business coach.
  4. Rework your processes so you are more efficient. Again, if you need help figuring out where to start, get a coach.
A business coach is the best investment for your business and personal sanity. A coach can look at your business without the emotional baggage you’re carrying to help you make the necessary decisions for your success. However, you can also get recommendations from friends and colleagues.
Separating yourself from your career will allow your business to evolve and grow in a manner that represents your ideals, not the other way around. You’ll become excited about your business when it flows from a place that resonates with you—and you will get your identity back!