- Stick to the times you allocate for your social life
- Turn off the phone or laptop when you’re on breaks
- Trusted delegates relieve the pressure
- Combining work with a passion can break down the work/life barriers altogether
Running your own business allows you to escape the confines of the corporate world, but the reality of being your own boss means that many people find it difficult to separate work from their personal lives. Whether it’s staying up late on a weeknight doing paperwork, or having to be dragged away from the Blackberry at the weekend, almost all small business owners have trouble finding the perfect work/life balance.
“The job definitely creeps outside of traditional working hours,” says Alexandra Marr, who set up her marketing and media relations company in 2010. “I make a real effort to keep my weekends free – sometimes without success – but it’s harder in the evenings.
“When I launched the business, I set up a holding website, and I only get the time to work on the site in the evenings. Likewise, days are so busy that I try and catch up with emails and keep up with my accounting after hours, too.”
Switch off and recharge
As tempting as it might be to think that, without round-the-clock work, the business might not be a success, it’s important for entrepreneurs to know when to disconnect and enjoy time off. Alexandra makes a real effort to take breaks, but finds that work is never too far from her mind. “I must admit,” she says, “that I write notes on my phone and send myself emails when I think of work-related things during the weekend.”
Many entrepreneurs begin with no staff or partners and have to bear the entire weight of the business themselves. The addition of someone to delegate to can mean that work/life balance becomes a lot healthier.
“I hired a writer and got my brother involved as a business partner,” Alexandra says. “I realised that I couldn’t do everything myself and it was great taking a holiday recently knowing that there was someone I could trust holding the fort.”
Make your passion your business
Another way of solving the work/life problem is to make work part of your social life. Karen Fream took her passion for competing in triathlons and turned it into Trizoo, a company that makes animal-print trisuits.
“Because it’s a business that concerns something I’m passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work and I don’t feel that there is that traditional work/life boundary” she says. “My work and personal lives overlap to an extent and I can get ideas and feedback on the business when I’m doing what I enjoy.”
Previously, Karen set up a consulting company for in-store brands, so she knows about running a business that is very separate from your social life. “I thought setting up my own business would not seem like a job in a corporate structure, but, to an extent, it still did,” she says. “That’s why a job that is related to something you’re passionate about really breaks down the work/life barrier.”