In my last column, which was my first as a BizBox contributor (thanks for all the supportive emails!), we started talking about the “entrepreneur’s lament.” I noted that in my law practice representing business owners and my experience running businesses, it seems that entrepreneurs tend to lament, or feel sorrow or regret for, the following:
- Focus. Pursuing new ideas to the detriment of the core business.
- Work/Life. Missing out on real life while pursuing business passion.
- Employees. Inability to find great help and keep them.
- Partners. Challenges in finding or maintaining good business partners.
- Money. Inability to find necessary financing for growth or survival.
- Burnout. When one morning you just can’t do it anymore.
- Boredom. When there’s not much more to build.
Work/life balance is not just important to relieve the guilt of not being home. It will improve how you approach business. I find that those who find their balance are happier, more efficient, more productive, and more focused.
But the work/life balance lament is also, yes, about having enough time at home; and, like it or not, these decisions are often harder for female entrepreneurs than male ones, especially if there are kids in the house. Women tend to feel more responsible for child-rearing. The world is littered with stories of men who went for the "100% of their time at work" approach, leaving behind (ex-)wives and unhappy children. Certainly there are women in that category, but, frankly, not as many.??So how can one avoid becoming “Uncle Daddy,” whom the kids see only once in awhile, or only via webcam? Can you be there as a Mom for every soccer game and school presentation? The answer: yes, if you respect the difference between working hard and working smart.??
As a lawyer, I have never put in as many total work hours as I have in the last few years. This is for many reasons. As a published author, I am in demand for speaking around the world (I also spent a bunch of Saturdays recently preparing the second edition of my book). I am running a growing law firm. I am overseeing my client matters and practice group.
But with all that, I time-shift where necessary in order to be home to see my family as much as possible. If that means working from 10 pm to midnight, so be it. Already, I’m up at 6 o'clock and on the computer for an hour before my son wakes up.??
Additionally, I do something that is often hard for entrepreneurs: I delegate. Yes, I know many entrepreneurs hate the “D” word. But it is critical not only for helping a business grow, but also for creating some semblance of a true work/life balance for the entrepreneur. In the next column we will talk about the challenges of finding the right people to work for you--briefly, accept that no one will do things as well as you do, and work on finding ones who can do them well enough.??
Lastly, try to work from home every once in a while. These days, virtually all that I do can be done remotely, and that is typically true for most entrepreneurs. Not always, just occasionally. You’ll like the 12-second commute and be even more productive than when everyone in the office needs your attention. Oh yeah, and you’ll see the family.
This is not just about spending time with family, by the way. It includes “me” time, too--whether working out at the gym, a game of tennis with a friend, just easing back and reading a book, or watching a movie. When traveling, add an extra half day or day to the trip with no meetings planned. Sneak in a round of golf, a massage; relax in the hot tub, take a nap. The business will survive, and you may find yourself doing some good brainstorming when removed from the daily grind. It’s downtime that helps recharge you for what is to come.??And in this extraordinary economic climate, with all the challenges most of us face in our businesses, we need all the recharging we can get!?
Next time: Can you find--and keep--great employees?
David N. Feldman, founding partner of Feldman Weinstein & Smith, is the author of Reverse Mergers and blogs atReverse Merger & SPAC Blog. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.?
American Express OPEN brings you the latest insights from noted business authors and experts in our special promotion with Slate BizBox.