Making Work-Life Balance Work
June 19, 2015
As small business owners, we all struggle with Work-Life Balance. However, no matter how much we love what we do, if our relationships suffer and we never take time for ourselves, in the end our success won’t matter.
This great article from OPEN Forum gives some insightful tips on how to ensure that you achieve adequate balance on your path to success.
Where work-life balance is concerned, there is no right or wrong answer, just what works for you and your business. “Everybody has a different way of working and balancing,” says Toby Krout, Boomtown’s co-founder and co-director. “It’s certainly an advantage if you can prevent burnout. There’s more information out there that backs up the notion that the more balanced people are, the more productive and creative they can be.”
Here’s how other small-business owners have achieved a work-life balance that works for them.
#1. Maintain boundaries.
Finding time for work and family can be especially tricky for business owners who are parents. Brooke Forry and her two co-founders at Curious + Company Creative, a Media, Pennsylvania print and web design company, have three children between them ranging in age from two to four-and-a-half. To carve out time for family, Forry creates professional boundaries. She makes it clear to clients that she is not available 24/7, and rarely checks email after 6 p.m. She ranks items on a daily to-do list as “must do” or “would like to do” to prioritize her workload and ensure she is realistic about goals. “The key to my balance is appreciating that I own my business and that my business does not own me,” Forry says.
#2. Create a routine.
Finding personal time outside of work can be especially vexing for couples who run a business together. Anna Copley and husband David Johnson own PickleballCentral, an online retailer of equipment for the backyard game, which combines elements of badminton, tennis and pingpong. The couple, based in Kent, Washington, developed a routine to help make time for themselves and their 13- and 9-year-old daughters. The couple often tag team items on their to-do lists, with one staying at home while the other mans the office. They limit how many social engagements and volunteer jobs they say yes to, and their office is a 10-minute drive from home, which minimizes commute times and ensures they can be home for family dinners. “Having two kids has made us smarter and more efficient entrepreneurs,” Copley says. “We carefully chose what to work on and what to live with.”
#3. Bring family into the business.
Larry Gurreri, founder and president of Sosemo, a New York City digital marketing agency, is always working. To spend more time with his family, he brought them into the business. A year ago, Gurreri hired his mother to work in the company’s back office. “We actually talk more now than we have in years,” he says. He’d love to bring his brother, an engineer, into the business as well. “The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that you get to decide whom you work with, which certainly and gratefully can be my family and friends,” he says. Gurreri and his family intentionally limit discussing the company outside of business hours. If something comes up at a family gathering, “We try to keep it short and to the point,” he says.
#4. Schedule me time.
Many small-business owners forget to take time for interests outside of work, says Lauren Abel, a serial entrepreneur who runs public relations agency Abel Associates and two wellness firms, Abel to Cook and Abel Fitness Training. To balance work and life, the Prairie Village, Kansas resident schedules “me” time every day, even if it’s just to take a 20-minute walk or have lunch with a friend. “Don’t feel guilty about taking time away from your work for yourself,” Abel says. “You’ve earned it.”
#5. Focus on quality vs. quantity.
Some entrepreneurs find that saying no to projects to gain more personal time ultimately pays off financially. Christopher Tompkins, CEO of The Go! Agency, a Largo, Florida online marketing firm, has turned away work to make time to train for triathlons. The decision helped create more business opportunities because he stopped wasting time on less profitable “filler” projects. “I was forced to focus my energy into being more effective,” tackling quality projects rather than chasing work he wasn’t as interested in, Tompkins says.
Founder + Executive Director
Marketing Strategy, Business Optimization & Web Development
Jillyn is a business process and strategy expert. She has nearly a decade of Fortune 100 experience and has spent the past six years helping small businesses and nonprofits expand their success. Along with the day-to-day operation of the Technology Aloha business and team, she stays involved with every project we work on.