If you are starting a business, there will be demands on your time. That’s a fact that many entrepreneurs fail to address head-on. I’m a family man. I know how important it is but I also know that my success plays a key role in my family’s lives. I’ve started many companies. I can tell you from personal experience that work-life balance is just not in the formula for entrepreneurs with a new business venture.
None of that means you need to walk away from those you love or the free time you would enjoy if you want to start a new business. What it does mean is you have to rethink a few things.
In those first few years, if you make work-life balance your goal, then I have to question your dedication to your budding business. A startup takes work and work takes your time. If you are going into that new business thinking you can swing a 50/50 balance, I’m here to tell you it’s a pipe dream.
The fact is, you rarely see a successful entrepreneur spend just as much time at work as at home. Honestly, it’s what you sign up for when you decide to take your idea and make a business out of it.
The hard facts are that most new startups fail, so you are already entering the game with less than perfect odds. Not understanding the amount of commitment that’s required can only lower those odds further. So, what can you do?
First, let’s dissect that word. Merriam-Webster defines balance as:
“To make something steady by keeping weight equal on all sides.“
Here’s the problem: When you are just getting a new business going, there is no way to put equal weight on both sides. Your business will require the bulk of your attention. You can expect your work life to take up about 90 percent of your time. That means 90/10 is your new definition of balance.
Maybe you are reading this post and saying:
Hey, Aaron Bouren, my home life is just as important as my work life.
I’m going to answer – don’t set yourself up for failure that way. They are not equal. One is dependent directly on the other. Without work, your other life takes a big hit.
It’s important to understand that a successful business (work life) means a better personal life and that will require sacrifice. If you are not willing to make that sacrifice because they remain equal in your mind, starting a business isn’t the right choice for you.
It’s possible that adding some flexibility into your work life will improve the quality of your home life even if it is 90/10. If you want to spend your mornings sending the kids off to school, then be prepared to work into the evenings after they are in bed. Learn to make concessions that improve the quality of the time you spend for yourself and anyone in your life without taking away what is necessary for your company.
Just in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years, mindfulness refers to staying in the moment. When applied to work-life balance, it means when you are at work that’s where your focus is as well. You are living in real time, so when you are doing the books or creating a kickbutt marketing strategy, you are not thinking about dinner or going out with friends.
Conversely, when you are out with your friends, you are not doing the math from work in your head (something I struggle with). Mindfulness trains you to live in the moment as it happens, so you use your time efficiently. If you do it right, you’ll find work-life balance even if you don’t split your time 50/50 between the two.
If you are an entrepreneur starting a new business, work is going to become your life. It will be up to you to find ways to still do the things you need to do to stay healthy or decompress. Consider making an appointment for that life stuff you just never fit into your schedule. You can squeeze in an hour at the gym on Tuesday around three, right?
Go to your planner or calendar and write gym in for that day. You are absolutely not free that hour unless something comes up and it better be good. Otherwise, consider yourself in a meeting with the trainer.
You invest in both your business and your personal life and there will be time for each – eventually. Those first few years, though, plan to put work at the head of your timeline. Go into it with that understanding and you are that much closer to success.
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