Young: Entrepreneur’s work-life balance

I am offering you a preview this week of the July 18 Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society monthly Town Hall Series that will focus on the work-life balance of the entrepreneurial world.That is, if such balance is attainable

I invite those of you in small business and entrepreneurial pursuit to join us at 7 p.m. at the Manteo Resort on Lakeshore Road in Kelowna. There will be three speakers, and Tamara Joel from the Andy & T.J. morning radio show will be the moderator.

But, let me get into some of the substance of what this meeting will delve into.

For small business owners, there is little distinction between their life and their work. The 2012 U.S. Bank Small Business annual survey found that 45 per cent of small business owners feel their venture is their life and their life is their venture, up from 34 per cent the previous year. But, let’s be real and recognize, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Since an entrepreneur’s work and personal lives are so intertwined, the survey shows many entrepreneurs and small business owners feel comfortable taking time off when they feel the need.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is difficult for anyone, particularly when our smartphones buzz with each new email, no matter whether we are at the grocery store, the gym or relaxing at home. But, it seems clear that the challenge is exponentially harder for today’s entrepreneur on many levels to launch a venture as it requires a little insanity to be sure, and you don’t wish for the lifestyle to send you over the edge in the process.

So, how do successful entrepreneurs take on this exciting challenge while they advance at home and work? For this serial entrepreneur who has danced the dance over my adult life beginning in my 20’s, finding balance boils down to taking it one day at a time, one step at a time, and always staying present in the moment while running and growing the various ventures I have enjoyed over the years.

Big business, no, as I chose to experiment and manage small entrepreneurial ventures that would complement my professional career and at the same time provide supplemental income and joy.

Here are a few tips I, and many of the entrepreneurs who I have met over the years have come up with to eke out a semblance of balance in our daily routine.

If you want work-life balance, you’ll need to think about everything that competes for your time, then decide what to keep and to discard.  You’ll also need to communicate clear expectations for yourself and others. In some cases, this means saying no.  For some, saying no doesn’t come naturally, but you’ll be happier and healthier if you manage your time on your own terms.

My mantra, for as long as I can remember, is exercise, be active and excercise some more. A good workout helps you release stress, maintain a routine, and think without interruption as well as be a form of meditation (I relate to this well when walking or cycling on the beach walk in Peachland)  Physical activity helps our bodies pump out more of those feel-good neurotransmitters, even when we may have days that we feel are a little tough.

If you are drowning in your inbox, dedicate chunks of your day when you unplug from the phone and email to get work done. And, when your perception of “office hours” are over, close your laptop, put aside your mobile phone even for an hour or two.

I know this takes tremendous discipline, but you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes for both your mindset and productivity.

Live outside of your venture. As an entrepreneur, you’re undoubtedly passionate about your dream and ready to put everything you have into making it thrive.  But, eventually, this lifestyle will catch up with you and may result in burnout, damaged relationships, stress and health issues.  I’m serious here. Yes, there will always be more emails to send but you’ve got to be able to walk away and spend time living and doing other activities you love with people you love and enjoy being with. And, as much as you can, try to be 100 per cent present during those moments.

Don’t fear failure . Many learned scholars and experienced successful entrepreneurs have advocated that the greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.

As an entrepreneur, you will recognize, your path is uncharted and yes, even bumpy.  And when things don’t go as planned and envisioned, it’s all too easy to find yourself frustrated and panicky.

Realize that you cannot control everything no matter how hard you try. Explore this mantra as every true blue entrepreneur will attest: I know that I am not done failing, I will fail again. I am not done succeeding, I will succeed once again And, most importantly, I am not done trying.

And, my last little tidbit of work-life balance advice is this: don’t ever hesitate to get help.

Yes, we know that when you are starting your entrepreneurial venture, it’s very natural to want to tighten the purse strings. And in many cases, very realistic. But you might wish to consider what you could gain by handing over certain tasks to contractors, employees or even friends or volunteers.

By relinquishing control of some tedious, heavy items, you’ll invariably be better able to focus on what’s going to keep your venture humming—revenue.

So the key, to work-life balance is different for each of us.The key is knowing what works for you.

How are you faring in your entrepreneurial balancing act?

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