How I balance multiple businesses | Diane Sanfilippo

How I balance multiple businesses

How I balance multiple businesses

Recently, via my Instagram stories, you all told me that you want to know how I balance multiple businesses.

Some of what you wanted to know most: how I plan my day, handle tasks, and prioritize.

I don’t recommend you take this post as my recommendations for how you should operate in your life, but simply as a peek into how I operate.

The reality is, my approach is certainly not going to work for everyone, and I’d dare to go so far as to say it won’t work for most people.

But, it’s how I operate, and I’ve learned to go with things, rather than try to mold myself and what works for me into what works for other people.

A few notes of context, for those of you who don’t know me as well as others may:

  1. I am an Enneagram Type 8, an ENTJ on the Myers-Briggs, a 4-Tendencies Rebel, and my CliftonStrengths /Strengths Finder (PDF) designations are: activator, relator, strategic, significance, and maximizer. These personality designations are important to recognize because they lend themselves so directly to ways in which we all structure our days, implement and maintain habits, and get things done.

    This means that my priority in life is personal freedom, the feeling of empowerment through my choices, the desire to do something/hold a position of significance and leadership, and I do not generally respond well to the expectations of others when it comes to work. More on this later.

  2. I have never, ever held just “one job” in my entire life. It isn’t in my nature to be doing only one thing at a time. As soon as I was old enough to work while also in school, I did.
  3. My husband is also self-employed. So, we share a lot of quality time together nearly every day and certainly every week. This matters because we have a deep understanding of work priorities in our everyday lives, and I am not ever pressured to work less than I want to work.
  4. We do not have children. This should require no further explanation, but I see this as a personal choice that allows me the ability to choose how more of my time and attention is spent that is obviously not placed on raising a family.

Note that when I say “my team,” in this case, I’m referring to the contractors who work with me on projects for Balanced Bites, The 21-Day Sugar Detox, any books I may be writing, my podcast, and more non-Beautycounter related work.

My priority in life is personal freedom, the feeling of empowerment through my choices, the desire to do something/hold a position of significance and leadership, and I do not generally respond well to the expectations of others when it comes to work.

On an annual basis

I primarily focus on the main projects my team and I will be working on for Balanced Bites, The 21-Day Sugar Detox and map them out by quarter, making sure that we don’t try to launch two programs or new products within the same quarter. This helps to alleviate the stress of projects being developed in a competitive timeline.

For example, we launched Balanced Bites Meals in Q1 of this year, and in Q2 of this year (as I type this!), The 21-Day Sugar Detox Coaches Program re-opened for enrollment. We’ll of course also have some big projects launching in Q3 (fall) and Q4 (holiday) of this year, but I can’t disclose what those will be yet – wink!

If I decide to write a new book, it throws a wrench into a lot of plans during the most intense working months. Mainly for my team, I tend to be a bit off-the-grid in terms of my ability to move projects ahead during those times.

This means that for usually a few months in the thick of any book writing process, I’m almost inaccessible to them. This may seem odd, but it’s really what works best for me to keep my head down and working without daily distractions. We will check in weekly and then throughout the month as-needed on projects, but my availability becomes even less open during these times.

With my Beautycounter business, I always look at the full calendar year and consider the balance of energy and time required for managing the business. For example, I attend meetings or travel approximately five times per year as a Managing Director (two for the Managing Director/leader group specifically, one as an annual leadership conference, one as a seasonal training when our holiday product launches each year, and one as an incentive trip that I earn through my business-building efforts).

There are other, smaller trainings or meetings I attend, but for those that require travel, this is about the extent of it for those that need to be on my calendar ahead of time. The bulk of the businesses that I operate with Beautycounter isn’t planned by me, meaning that while I map out launches and new products for Balanced Bites, I do not plan any of that with my Beautycounter business. So, this business allows me to let HQ do that work and I can manage more on a granular level and work with my team with whatever is coming down the pipeline.

On a monthly basis

I re-assess whether the projects and timelines we set ahead of time for the year are still on track and looking like they’ll be on-time. If everything seems to be okay, then we move ahead as-is. If something seems behind on timing due to scheduling, my feedback, or my team’s timelines, we adjust.

The benefit of being a small company is that I can be agile and change course a bit as-necessary. That said, after running my business for nearly a decade, I know that keeping on-track with big picture timing is really helpful if at all possible.

With my Beautycounter business and team, I am always looking at my own personal sales as well as supporting my team so that I can maintain my title level as well as assist anyone who needs coaching, encouragement, or ideas for their own business. I am coming up on a year of maintaining a title of Managing Director with Beautycounter, which is at the top of the organizational and compensation plan. If you’re familiar with how direct sales companies work, it may make a bit more sense to you to hear that. But, maintaining this level is not easy, so it does require effort and attention.

On a weekly basis

Team Balanced Bites and I connect on project progress and we review priorities together, shifting anything we need to along the way.

While there is always a growing list of things I aim to get done that week, as well as some financial goals or productivity goals, but for the most part, I do not plan my week. What I do, however, is prioritize what the main goals are for the week for myself and those working alongside me.

Each week, I have appointments scheduled for thing like recording podcasts, check-ins with team members, and personal training. But, I primarily don’t schedule much if I can avoid it. Of course, there are always calls that do come up, and I flow as-needed when they do. I prefer not to have more than a few regularly scheduled weekly calls.

On a daily basis

One key element of balancing multiple businesses has become very apparent to me in the last few years.

Rather than managing my time, I manager my energy.

That said, since the world (and people I work alongside) needs to operate on a time schedule, I balance the time I am committed to things with the energy I anticipate having to complete work in between / around those commitments.

For example, once I see where I have time already “taken up” by appointments (including personal training or exercise classes), meetings, or calls, I then loosely map out what I want to get done in the time I’ll have around them.

Ideally, I won’t have more than two to three hours pre-scheduled, maximum. If I have calls where a lot of my energy is required (a podcast, or a training call that I’m leading, for example) I can’t book them back to back. I always need a break to regain energy between intensely demanding calls.

From there, as much as I wish I could operate differently, I prioritize the work I can get done on any given day alongside what needs my attention (problems that need to be solved right then/that day). If something must be done that day, I do it. If it can wait, it waits.

The biggest key to balancing multiple businesses, and even to being a successful entrepreneur, is knowing how to prioritize.

You will always, always have more to do than can be done in a day, week, month, or even a year. You need to decide what is most important on any given day – maybe it’s even hour to hour – and then act accordingly.

Now, this doesn’t mean that small tasks that can be done quickly are always top priority. If you are trying to complete a large project, there may be small tasks that will get done in the meantime, but there may be many that you need to back-burner, so to speak, in favor of tasks that will contribute to completing the big project.

As I mentioned earlier, when I am writing a book, I try to clear my “desk” (aka: to-do list) of other projects as much as possible. This doesn’t mean I don’t work on anything else at all, but it does mean that small, inconsequential tasks can’t make it onto my list as a priority.

This also means that I breakdown large projects and even large tasks into very small ones. Clearly, putting “write a book” on your to-do list is totally impractical. It’s not a task, it’s a big project. And big projects need to be broken down into smaller and smaller projects until eventually, hopefully, each task is around a 1-hour-long activity. I personally find that having a task on my to-do list that will take longer than one hour is not useful.

Furthermore, my team and I used the project (and task) management software Asana. Literally everything I need to do (even reviewing something to approve it) is a task and warrants a line-item that is “check-offable.”

I’ll talk about balancing multiple businesses more in future posts, but, first, please tell me if this post resonates with you. Do you operate this way, too? Are you figuring out that “just one business” will never be your way? I want to hear from you in the comments below!



"I'm doing 'too many' things" @garyvee

In this timely post, it sounds like Gary Vaynerchuck (@garyvee) would say we’re not crazy after all.

9 thoughts on “How I balance multiple businesses

  • Hello Diane,
    This blog was very helpful. I have been in business for five years and I do juggle a couple of different aspects to it as well as work in a chiropractic office 2 days/week. I am getting ready to take things to the next level and am trying to manage how to do it as one person in my business. Like you said, it is about prioritizing. I really appreciate your insight – it helps me think about how I am managing the different aspects. Thank you.

  • Love the concept of managing your energy, not your time! I don’t balance multiple businesses, per se, but I am an independent consultant and am always managing multiple projects/clients. So I identify with a lot of this process. Different clients require different types of attention, thinking, and processes — same as different businesses. To provide each client my best work, I try to keep my mornings (my best brain time) as meeting free as possible. I also aim to dedicate each day to just 1 or 2 clients, with each day having a different focus. This allows me to deep dive into my work rather than quickly toggling between all clients, projects, tasks, etc.

  • Shelley Verducci says:

    Thank you for writing this! Along with seeing how you handle multiple businesses I love the various personality tests you mentioned, they’re a great start to thinking about how I actually would best work and be productive. I really appreciate this!

  • Vanessa Wright says:

    Thanks, Diane! My main priorities right now are raising my three kids and homeschooling but I have added in work projects that allow me to be flexible, earn money (braces and college for three kids who are 14,12,12). I am inspired by all women who run various business even if their lives are different than mine. Personality absolutely plays a role. I am an ENFJ, Enneagram 2 and an Obliger. It’s been so helpful to know my strengths. Love your content!

  • This even resonates with me as a library director! It’s so hard for me to see the big yearly/monthly picture and I’m working on it bit by bit to train my brain to see this way. As someone in charge of so many facets of the department, it kind of feels like running multiple businesses at the same time. I am also a Performer/Loyalist so I have desire/need to achieve combined with a questioning/doubtful side pulling me back a bit. And while I haven’t done an official Gretchen Rubin read, I think I’m an Obliger just from listening to you and Liz talk about it. So all 3 of those things pull me in different directions every day and I’m working on playing to the best of each of them!
    I’m enjoying the switch to the blog from Instagram to get so much more of your thoughts, although I’m still a loyal follower there as well.

  • ENTP, hello! I read the book: Make Time, and books by Mike Michalowicz. I keep a bullet journal that is my mind, my third arm and my life if I were to lose. I envy the life before kids, it was so much easier then! Now I prioritize, and feel good about my day if I can just get my highlight done. Also book Radical Focus for planning our young business’ quarterly goal.

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