You were sick of being a slave to the system and being trapped in a corporate 9 to 5 with nothing to look forward to but two weeks of vacation a year and missing out on milestones in your own kids’ lives. You decided you didn’t want to spend the prime of your life building someone else’s dream. Instead, running your own business and being your own boss seemed like the answer you were looking for.
Yet, somehow, you find yourself working the same long hours, if not more, as you watch the bills pile up and you haven’t been on vacation in forever. Research shows that more than 70% of small business owners work more than their employee counterparts. So what gives? How else can you achieve that balance you crave?
What Do You Want from Your Business?
The truth is, most business owners don’t have clear goals about what they want from their business. Perhaps you grew your business from a hobby. Maybe it was a side hustle that ended up becoming a full-time business. While it’s likely something you’re passionate about, there are other factors to think about. More important might be: What do you want your business to do for you?
Whether your business is providing accounting services, being a life coach or running an ad agency, its underlying purpose is to serve you. Not the other way around. Too often, we get caught up in our businesses and forget why we even created them in the first place. Passion, yes. But there was likely something else in play/
Stop. Take a moment to reflect. Think about the three most important aspects of your life. Now, ask yourself: Does my business support these things?
If you’re like most people, family, health and financial independence are your top three priorities in life. And if you’re like most business owners, working on your business is taking you away from your family, leaving you stressed with your blood pressure skyrocketing and you’re struggling with a mountain of debt. It’s time for a serious re-evaluation of your business.
Another great litmus test is asking yourself if you would carry on with what you’re doing in your business, if you only had five years left to live. If the answer is a resounding NO, it might be worth going back to the drawing board with your business.
Try this: Focus on the things that bring you joy. Set your goals around those ideas. Once you have a clear idea of what you want from your business, building a business that supports those aspirations becomes much easier.
Build a Business Around Your Lifestyle
Something people often ignore in building their businesses is knowing what kind of lifestyle they want. How is my lifestyle relevant to my business? you may wonder. In reality, your lifestyle needs, constraints and aspirations very much dictate what your business will look like.
Start by designing your ideal life: When you picture life as you want it, how do you picture it? What are some aspects of your lifestyle that are non-negotiable, and what are you willing to forgo? Whether it’s your penchant for fancy dining, scratching that travel itch, or just wanting to work from home in your PJs—these are things to consider when designing your ideal life.
Another aspect to consider is where you live. Regardless of whether you currently live in a bustling city or the idyllic country, it’s prudent to assess if that is the place you really want to live. For brick and mortar businesses, your local network is where you will find your customers. Growing a business in a place you do not foresee yourself staying means a potential loss of customers down the road, and having to start from scratch if you relocate. Costs of living also vary drastically depending on location, making this an important consideration in your decision-making process.
Look at your ideal life, and look at your business as it stands now. Is your business helping you to move forward in creating your ideal life? If not, it’s time to start building a business that will.
Structure Your Business to Match Your Life
Fact: Everyone has 24 hours in a day.
Fiction: Everyone makes the most of their 24 hours each day.
It’s stating the obvious, but we all have a finite amount of time. That’s why it’s crucial to structure your business in a way that maximizes the benefit you get from the time you invest in it.
Think about your existing roles and responsibilities as a parent, a spouse, a friend… the list goes on. With all these commitments, how many hours can you realistically work on your business? How many hours do you want to work? Given these constraints, design your business to maximize its profitability and ensure that it will help you achieve your goals.
If you’re a parent with kids to care for, that adds a level of complexity to your business. It may be preferable for you to work on your business during the school day, or late in the evening after the kids have gone to bed. Does your business model support that and allow for that flexibility? And in those precious few hours that you get, are you able to work in an ideal environment, whether it’s in an office, a co-working space or the comfort of your own home?
Without practically and realistically considering these limitations, it’s impossible to build and grow a sustainable business. A business plan may seem flawless on paper, but if it’s not something that complements your life, it is likely that you’ll be calling it quits down the road.
Work-Life Balance? It’s Possible.
Finding the balance between running your business and achieving your life objectives is not impossible. Take a good hard look at your business and how it’s serving you. If your current business model isn’t in line with your personal goals, it’s time to make some changes. Identify the areas that need to change, and create an action plan outlining the steps to address these issues. Having a deadline to implement these changes can also be the extra push you need.
Remember: You are the owner of your business—your business does not own you. Make your business work for you, and find your true balance in life.
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