Can Small Business Owners Have It All?
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Sure, entrepreneurs wear lots of hats in their business. But they don another set outside the business—spouse, parent. Given many small business owners work over 60 hours a week, that can spread a hat wearer pretty thin. Can small business owners have it all? The answer lies in creating a better work-life balance. Take a look at these ideas to better juggle work and family demands.
Schedule for harmony.
Most successful business owners are a wiz at scheduling. So why not use that skill outside the business too? Schedules take the anxiety out of getting all the home duties done. It also helps you prioritize your limited time. Maybe it’s not important for that thing to be done this week. Some families post a master schedule, others take 10 minutes at breakfast to review the day ahead.
But it’s more than deciding who’s going to pick up the kids from daycare. Don’t forget to schedule time to nurture relationships, like date night or a family bike ride in the neighborhood. Facebook CEO Zuckerberg has a contract with his wife to take her out at least once a week and spend 100 hours of quality time together.
Cap shop talk.
It’s easy for the passion you have for your business to spill over into shop talk at home. A little of that is a good thing. Your spouse can offer an outside perspective that may lead to the solution that’s eluded you. But too much can eclipse what’s happening at home.
Some couples set a limit and time slot for shop talk, maybe 30 minutes after the kids are in bed. This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about feeling stressed or depressed outside that time. Try to separate the feeling from where it happens. That frees you to relate to each other on a personal level and accept their support.
Settle on a hard stop time.
Running your own business is rarely a 9-to-5 job. But that doesn’t mean there are no limits. It’s important to establish a firm stopping time when you switch from work to home. That includes refraining from business phone calls, emails or your social media channels.
There’s value in establishing a cutoff. It gives your brain the break it needs to gain perspective on work issues. But more importantly, it’s a conscious signal to balance the day by focusing on your home life. It also creates an expectation among family members that this is the time to interact.
Create a family plan.
Your business plan is your roadmap for success. Borrow that idea and create a family plan. Think about where you want to be a year from now, five years from now. Do you want to remodel your home, take a family trip or start a college fund for your children? Having a plan ensures you’ll take the steps now to achieve it.
Like your business plan, don’t put it on the shelf and forget about it. Establish periodic review sessions to see how you’re doing and make adjustments. That might include reallocating how you spend your time. Some families include their children in these sessions. It’s a great way for them to learn about budgeting and unifies everyone to work toward the same goals.
Sweat the little things.
Sometimes, work-life balance is about the little things you do, especially the unexpected ones. Maybe you pick up dinner on the way home or you volunteer to take the dog to the groomers.
Some couples establish routines in their day. They might text each other a meme-of-the-day. Others have an evening habit of watching the latest House Hunters episode together. It might seem corny, but these rituals create predictable touchpoints that help you maintain balance.
Having it all is possible for small business owners, if you’re willing to work at it. Start with these ideas to better balance life in your business and at home.