This article is a departure from my more typical articles on issues facing small and medium businesses and their owners/founders. Occasionally, it is very important, I’d say wise, to take a step back and view the big picture of your business and your life as a whole to gain perspective. This is not solely a bigger picture of your business, or of your life, but of how your business fits into your life.
You hear stories about business owners being obsessed, to the detriment of all else around them. That is not necessary. Yes, single-mindedness is, but not to the exclusion of your family, your health, and your general well-being! Many think that you have to be an asshole to get a business to a certain point. But that’s absolutely not true. Yes, you must be stubborn and generally ignore the naysayers, but stubbornness is not being a jerk.
It is important to balance the requirements of your business and your life. One great opportunity and benefit of being a business owner, is your flexibility to integrate your business into your life and your life into your business. Modify your business or the way you work in your business to live the life you want. I know of several small business owners who focused so laser-like on the business that their marriages and other relationships crumbled. You may be able to get away with several weeks or even a few months here and there of complete neglect, but once you reach several months or 1-2 years of complete neglect, you’ll see residue of the bricks that built your relationships!
Your business should help you accomplish your life goals, not rip them apart!! If you have a “successful business”, as defined solely by profitability or cash thrown off, but your relationships are in shambles, no one outside of the company remembers who you are, and your health has gone to sh_t, how are you truly a success? What is important in most relationships is the quality of the time spent, not the amount. Spending time with loved ones while constantly checking your iPhone leaves them feeling highly dissatisfied, as in “Why is s/he even here?” What’s quality time? It’s not like the divorced parent who has only visitation who tries to cram in all this “fun” stuff in a short period of time. Instead, it’s setting aside one – two hours, 2-3x per week to totally focus on your mate / significant other, your children (if you have them). These 2-6 hours per week during crunch times can maintain goodwill for awhile!
In addition, if you do have children, take them to your office. Let them see the business and see you in action. If your children are smaller and their presence would be disruptive during regular business hours, take them in the evenings or weekends. Also, set aside 1-2 hours once or twice a month, more if you are single, to spend time with close friends or family members. When you’re with them, pay attention and enjoy their company. Cease any pre-occupation with your business and the ideas you have or the issues you’re encountering to focus on them.
Your business will be more successful and you will be happier when you balance / successfully integrate your business with your life.