by Rick Sliter, President and CEO of BioClarity
Congratulations, you took the risk and now have your own start-up company! While I’m sure you are already enjoying some of the benefits of your new life as a business owner, it doesn’t take long before your new start-up can take over your life. Gone are the 8-hour work days, overtime pay and paid holidays.
There are some entrepreneurs who will try to guilt you into thinking that the only way to succeed in your startup is to sacrifice your personal life. But the reality is, when (not if, but when) burnout hits you, it’s hard to bounce back without the proper precautions in place. In his article “I Almost Let My Failed Startup Destroy Me”, Rui Delgado said, “If you know who Peter Thiel is, you probably also know what most people referred as Thiels’ law: ‘A startup messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed.’ That’s what happened to us. I wish I knew what I know now…. I was under the impression I was supposed to sacrifice everything to make it work. I didn’t pay enough attention to my health and I let myself go. For me, the only important thing was my startup and nothing else.” He then goes on to explain how this mindset caused his physical health to decline and him to miss the opportunity to see his father before his passing.
On one hand, if you aren’t careful it is easy to lose balance in your life and burn out. On the other hand, if you don’t work at your start-up enough it will fail. How do you find the proper balance of maintaining a personal life and working your start-up?
Determine Your Priorities.
If you are going to find a way maintain a work/life balance, you need to start by determining what your priorities are. It is easy to push aside the “important” things for the “urgent” things if you haven’t established what those “important” things are in your life.
Relationships – Reserve time in your schedule for your personal relationships. Whether it’s a spouse, children, parents or close friends, make sure you take the time to build and maintain your personal relationships. These are the people that are in your life to support you through the bad times and celebrate with you during the good.
Health – Many entrepreneurs fall into the same trap of quick junk food and cutting out physical fitness from their lives. You may feel you are too busy to exercise, but the reality is you are too busy not to pay attention to your health. An article on the Entrepreneur site called “7 Ways Exercise Can Make You a Better Entrepreneur”, the author explains the benefits of exercise for you and your business. For example, it helps reduce stress, gets the creative juices flowing and boosts your energy.
Sleep – Study upon study has shown the importance of sleep on your mind and body. With lack of sleep your work will suffer, so those long hours that you spend working resulting in a little sleep will hurt you in the long run. Mentor Michael Hyatt encourages people to nap during the day to help produce their best work.
Look at Work/Life Balance in a New Light.
Many people that are struggling to balance work and life have not yet come to the realization that work is life. Your life should not be all about work, but it’s important as an entrepreneur of a startup to come to grips with the fact that every moment of the day is your life. You need to enjoy the work that you are doing or find something different to do. If you are struggling through 18 hours days just trying to get to the point that you can enjoy life, you need to take a step back. Each moment that you spend working is a moment of your life that you can’t get back. Coming to grips with the fact that while you need to balance personal life and work life, it is all a part of your life. Don’t put life on hold just to grow your startup or else your life will pass you by.
Determine When You Work Best.
Some entrepreneurs do their best work first thing in the morning, and others are able to work much better late at night. Determine when you are able to produce your best work and schedule your day to accommodate it. Trying to wake up an hour early to get extra work in on your business if you are a night person is only going to add to your lack of sleep, lack of energy and faster burn out.
Be Present in the Moment.
To help balance work/life it is important to be present in the moment. When you are at home or with family, do your best to shut your mind off from work. Be present with your family and participating in activities with them. When you are working, do not be thinking about your family and personal issues. Keep your focus on your startup. By being present in the moment you can give your best to your family when you are with them and the best to your business when you are at work. The important point here is to make sure you set aside hours to be away from work.
To be perfectly honest, if you are running a startup, you are going to have to put in long hours to get your business growing. Your work/life balance might not be exactly what you want it to be for several years. It is important to prioritize your life so you don’t lose it in the process of growing your business. But, if you resent the fact that you are working long hours on your business, a startup might not be the best route for you. However, it is important to remember the words of Frank Underwood, “Run the marathon, not the sprint.” Don’t set a pace that you cannot maintain over several years.
Rick Sliter is the President and CEO of BioClarity. Previously Rick served as the Chief Brand Management Officer at Provide Commerce, as well as Senior Vice President of Marketing Services at Provide Commerce. Mr. Sliter holds an MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA, where he was awarded the Patrick J. Welsh Fellowship, and a BA in Quantitative Economics and Decision Studies, with distinction, from UCSD.