Another holiday with the family missed. A dinner with friends rescheduled for the sixth time. Another morning draped in the uncertainty of drive. Can I really do this forever? Is it worth throwing away the rest of my life to run a business?
There’s nothing more commendable than a drive gauge that reaches the heights of successful entrepreneurship. If you have a successful small business, you have taken a plethora of impressive steps to get where you are. You have seen a vision and followed it, step-by-step, not stopping until the goal is met. That’s the American dream that we’ve dipped in capitalist glaze.
Even if you haven’t reached the heights of small business success, you are still sacrificing your time to get there. You are still busting your tail, working every possible moment to see your opportunity through. And that, my friend, is impressive. Never take let that go unnoticed.
Working every waking moment is impressive, but it’s not what life is truly about. Your business-to-life ratio should be balanced, even if it seems impossible. How can you run a business and still manage a normal life? It’s possible, but it takes a little effort.
Here are a few tips:
A Concerning Trend
Let’s harken back to the concept of the American dream.
In a country built upon the foundation of being able to move out of the shadows with a nose for hard work, it can be impossible to see the forest through the trees. Having a successful business (whether small or enterprise-level) can be seen as an end goal for life. And the fact that it’s virtually achievable for anyone, is the magic of the country we are denizens in. The fact that anyone can achieve success with enough work is a blinder for everything waiting in the stands.
Though we have established ourselves as a capitalist society with a marketable achievement of small business success, it’s important to remember that that is not the true essence of a sustainable life. The rags-to-riches affair is sustainable and commendable when it sits between the hours of 9-to-5, not beyond.
If you are spending every waking moment working for your company’s success, you may be experiencing the American dream, but you are missing the human dream entirely.
In a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, Americans were asked about the qualities they consider part of the American dream. 87% of those with at least a four-year college degree said that freedom of choice in how to live was the most essential aspect, as did 82% of those with some college experience.
While having your own business may be considered freedom in how you live, being tied to it 100% of your day is ironically the opposite. You may think you are free, avoiding working under a boss, but you are letting an idea be the same restrictive boss.
Never Feel Guilty About Living
A New York Enterprise Report survey found that small business owners work twice as much as regular employees. Furthermore, 33% of small business owners reported working more than 50 hours per week, and 25% said they work more than 60 hours a week.
When Henry Ford introduced the 40-hour work week in 1914, many workers rejoiced. On the contrary, many big wigs in Monopoly Man top hats shrieked. The resistance against the idea was based on the concept of stretching thin. Business owners didn’t care about their workers as a species, they cared about how many hours they could get out of them before collapsing.
While the owners got to experience the American dream, the workers were experiencing the American nightmare. Having free time and a life outside of work was never an option. Ironically, it now takes a bit of both dream and nightmare to be a successful small business owner.
At the end of the day, never feel guilty about putting your business to the side to live your life.
Give yourself permission to live.
Your business will not fail if you have time for yourself every week, we promise. Do not hate yourself for wanting to be free, that’s the reason to start a personal business in the first place. Enjoy it.
Keep Note of What’s Important to You
Before you begin thinking of how exactly to run your business and live your life, you need to take note of all the things that are important to you. It’s crucial to remember that even though we can discuss the concept until the cows come home, there will always be sacrifices necessary to run a business successfully.
Yes, you can do your best and work hard to run a business and maintain a personal life, but you will still be busy. You will always be busy. You will always have to sacrifice some personal time to run your business (until you reach crazy heights of success).
So, take the time to write out your priorities outside of work. Therefore, you can make sure you get to the most important aspects.
What are your hobbies? Do you want to be able to spend time with certain people or learn new things?
If you sit down to write this list and realize you don’t have any hobbies outside of work, now is the time to find some. We understand that working is your world, but it shouldn’t be. A study of 400 employees published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology found that there was a significant boost in the production of workers that engaged in hobbies as opposed to ones that didn’t.
Tips on How to Run a Business and Live
Let’s get into the ways in which you can run a business and live your life.
Firstly, it’s important that all of this takes commitment to living. That’s right. If commitment to building a small business wasn’t enough, now you have to commit to living a life. It can be easy to fall back into the routine that you know, putting your business in the entirety of the forefront. You have to remember how important it is for your stress and mental health to give yourself free time.
You have to work to have a life and stay committed to being a better and freer individual. Remember that though your business is impressive, it isn’t all of you.
And on, and on.
1. Delegating Is Okay
Finding the resources and time to bring in and train a new employee can be tough, especially if your business is very small. If you feel it’s time to hire a new employee, then it’s time to hire a new employee. If you do a good job in the hiring and training process, the overall expenses will equal out.
Having more employees leads to potential business growth. It also leads to the ability to delegate tasks. You don’t always have to be at your business if you have an employee you trust to run it. A star employee can significantly limit the time you need to be at the physical business.
If you already have an employee but still can’t find the time to survive, then you should look into bringing in another. You can always find people willing to work part-time or flexible schedules, especially if you live in a highly-populated area. At the end of the day, businesses are built upon their employees. That’s how it has always worked. That’s how it will always work (until sentient A.I. takes over the world, or whatever).
Delegating is okay. If you have employees you can trust, it’s completely normal to give them tasks off your plate. That’s what you pay them for, after all.
2. Make a Schedule for Yourself
Some people simply do not have the ability to abide by a schedule. If that’s you, that’s entirely okay. You should still attempt to create one and stick to it.
Write out a schedule for your entire week. Note all of the things that need to be done for your business and all of the things that you would like to get done for yourself. Write out times for family, personal errands, and hobbies. A lot of times, business owners will lose out on personal time because they overwork a task.
If the task doesn’t have a hard deadline, don’t overwork on it. Set a timeline for it and stick to it. Don’t find yourself losing out on the little free time you have allotted because you lost track of time on a work project that isn’t even necessary.
Consequently, it will be close to impossible to keep a strict deadline. You never know what business emergencies will pop up. Creating a schedule should not introduce more stress in order to stick to it, but give you a way to make sure there is some time left over for you.
3. Set Hard Boundaries
A driven business owner can easily find themself working into the wee hours of the night. Unfortunately, there’s a glaring sense of irony in the overworking nature of small business owners. Sure, you are spending extra time doing tasks, but your energy levels for the following days will be lower, reducing your productivity.
Though you increased your productivity during one day, you hampered it for the following. So, what does it all equate to?
Set hard boundaries and attempt to stick with them. For example, don’t work past a certain time at night. During your dinner time with family, don’t check your phone (at all).
Refuse to combine tasks that don’t need to be combined. For example, don’t work during your short lunch break. Let your lunch break be just that, a break. Multitasking is an impressive attribute, but it doesn’t always need to come into play. Take the time to attempt to balance life and work. Even just the practice of attempting to stick to hard boundaries will help you become better at it in the future. Practice!
They say (not sure who) it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at something. You will become a master of running your business eventually, we promise. Don’t try to fit it all in immediately.
4. Keep in Touch With Friends
The Harvard Study of Adult Development started collecting data on the lives of 268 Harvard graduates and 456 Boston men in 1939. For the last 80 years, the department held interviews and studies to figure out one simple question, “what psychosocial variables and biological processes from earlier in life predict health and well-being in late life.”
Through the research of the most genius of geniuses, the findings were surprisingly simple: the only factor they could correlate with happiness was the quality of their human relationships. Close friendships, familial connections, and marriages surpassed other variables like social class, genetics, I.Q., fame, or fortune.
The true definition of happiness is having close people around you. Go figure.
Having friends is just as important as having free time and hobbies. You need human interaction outside of work relationships. How many romance movies have you seen where the overworked main character ‘doesn’t have time’ for romantic relationships? How do they all end up?
Whatever you do, do not forget about your friends and family. Try to make as much time for them as you can. Even if you cannot fit them into your normal schedule, make sure to send them quick texts or calls to let them know you are thinking of them. Do not neglect and lose your close relationships. No business is worth it. Not a single one.
Haven’t you ever seen any of the movies? A Christmas Carol? Citizen Kane? Don’t be the business person that pushes all their friends away.
Even an hour of time with close friends is more rejuvenating and happy than multiple hours of time to yourself.
5. Cloud Technology Can Help
Let us not forget the beauty of the world we live in. It’s the 21st century! We have technology that allows us to work from home, visit augmented realities, and communicate anywhere.
It’s impossible to note what technology can help make your business more efficient without knowing the specifics of your industry, but there are tons available. For example, think of the amount of time you can cut out of your schedule if you don’t have to drive to your business for a certain task. If you could do it online from the comfort of your home, you may be able to open up your free time immensely.
Maybe you can set up a cloud-based drive that keeps track of your inventory. That way, you don’t have to physically go to the storefront to do a product order, saving you a significant amount of time on your schedule.
Throughout human history, technology has been used and adapted to make our lives easier. Let it make your work-life balance easier, too. Find clever ways to combine technology and work tasks, giving you more time to experience life.
We went almost two years during the pandemic working from home, there ought to be some ways you can mobilize your work experience.
Regardless of what you do and how you do it, remember how important life outside of work is. Even if you can only spare a few hours a day, make some time for yourself. You will not regret it in the long run.
Burnout is real and dangerous. You may love the passion and drive you have now (and you should), but it doesn’t mean it will stick around forever. Get your business where you want it to be, sure, but make sure to leave a little time for yourself. Only if it’s just a little, take the time to breathe.
We can’t be Superman. Not even you, you superstar.