Becoming an entrepreneur and running your own business can be one of the most liberating experiences. Instead of kowtowing to a boss, or worse, multiple bosses, you run the show. You make the critical decisions that determine the fate of the company. It sure beats doing the same thing over and over in a traditional 9-to-5.
As with all areas of life, there needs to be a balance between work and family life. Being prepared ahead of time, or as soon as possible, will make both facets of life run much smoother.
Unfortunately, the entrepreneurial life does not come without sacrifices. While you’ll feel liberated in the workplace, you might feel quite stifled at home. Many entrepreneurs have difficulties maintaining family relations, especially at the beginning. There is a high cost of entrepreneurship. Are you ready to handle it?
So how do you create a balance between family and entrepreneurship?
1. Use a single calendar
So many entrepreneurs I know use two calendars, one for work and one for personal events. This wouldn’t be such a bad idea if they viewed both equally. But all too often they look at the business one first and the personal one second, if at all. So when a scheduling conflict appears, the work calendar wins by default. You can imagine the new conflicts this creates at home.
The key, as I’ve found it, is to keep a single calendar for all events. That way when a new work event conflicts with an existing family event, you can try to reschedule the work event. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss your kid’s big event because you scheduled a work event against it.
2. Clock out
When you work for someone else, the terms are usually pretty clearly laid out. Either they explicitly expect you in the office during certain hours, or the office environment suggests the hours you work. Either way, there is normally a quitting time when you go home and put work behind you for the evening. But as a business owner it’s not so clearly cut. Many entrepreneurs consider themselves around-the-clock workers. That’s not conducive to a happy family life.
Much as you might want to continue trucking into the wee hours, it’s advisable to pick a time every evening and cut away from work. Even if it’s for a couple of hours before you dig back in at 10 p.m., you should find a reasonable hour to clock out, have dinner with your family, and play with your kids (and pay attention to your spouse, of course). It is too easy to neglect them otherwise.
3. Delegate wisely
Entrepreneurs take responsibility seriously. That’s not to say that employees do not. Many, if not most, do. But responsibility is something special for an entrepreneur. Since we own the business, we feel responsible for everything. Oftentimes we can take that responsibility to unreasonable levels, as described in the sections above. We work back-breaking hours and schedule every minute of our time, even that time previously blocked off for family and personal events.
The key to workable balance is delegation. That means finding someone, or someones, you can trust. You, the business owner, will still shoulder the great, great majority of the responsibility. But for the times you’re away due to family and personal time, you’ll have someone, or a team of people, in place to handle the big decisions. That way you can feel comfortable when you’re away from the business, whether for an evening or for the weekend.
This might be the most difficult item for any entrepreneur to tackle, but it might be the most relieving. You might keep a single calendar and honor your personal and family appointments, you might take off at a certain time every day, and you might delegate tasks with the best of them. But it’s tough to ignore that flashing light or that banner on our smart phone screen. It begs you to answer. If you can resist, you will be happier.
This can be quite simple, and it doesn’t even involve turning off your phone. Just leave it in a different room: in a drawer or another area where you can’t see the flashing light and can’t hear it vibrating or ringing. That way you can give your family your full, undivided attention. In return, your business can get your full, undivided attention during business hours.