The right work-life balance for entrepreneurs

5th December 2018

It’s not easy to switch off. Especially for a small business owners. Sometimes finding the right work-life balance for entrepreneurs can seem like an impossible task. You’re scared that if you slow down for a couple of weeks, your business will suffer. You worry that customers may go elsewhere and competitors will gain an advantage.

But you also know how crucial it is to take a step back. To breathe deeply, sleep late, eat well and recharge the batteries in the brain and body. Finding a balance isn’t easy and there’s no right answer or correct way to do it. Every business owner is different, but after speaking to a wide range of small business owners within our community we’ve put together some practical tips that they have collectively found to be helpful.

Make a list

Start planning for your time off early. Figure out what your absolute priorities are, both at work and at home. Put the most important tasks and activities at the top and work your way down as you complete them. This will ensure that all the holiday heavy-lifting is out the way as soon as possible.

It will also make it easier to figure out where you can get help. Is there a friend or family member that can run a small personal errand while you deal with something work-related? Is there a colleague or employee that can take care of some work admin while you deal with important family stuff? Don’t be afraid to delegate, within reason.

Create boundaries and stick to them

Emergencies aside, try not to allow personal and professional time to bleed into one another. Be present in the moment. Make sure that work doesn’t interfere with family time and vice versa. In the same way you’re all-in when you’re at work, be all-in when you’re at home.

Your family and friends will appreciate it when you’re dedicated to making the time you spend with them count. And you’ll be more productive when you’re committed to professional time.

Schedule your work time smartly during this period. Schedule your downtime, if you have to. Try and maximise the per-hour value of each thing you do to achieve a stronger feeling of fulfilment.

Communicate clearly

Manage expectations based on the boundaries you’ve created. It’s the key to successful relationships, professionally and personally. Let your clients know when you’ll be available and when you won’t. Do the same with your family.

Failing to respond to customers and being unavailable is only a problem if they don’t know what’s going on. It’s risky to approach the festive season with a mindset that goes something like “well my customers know it’s holiday time, so they won’t expect me to be available.” Make sure that they know in advance when you’ll be closed, and when they can expect you to get back to them. As long as their expectations are managed, they won’t run to a competitor when you’re not available.

In the same way, you have to communicate at home. Don’t leave your family hoping you’ll be at that important event if you know you’ll probably need to be working. Make promises that you can keep, then keep them. Everyone’s happy.

Embrace airplane mode

Your phone can be really disruptive to both deep work and family time. Setting aside time to ensure you can’t be contacted will help you gain more from each minute, whether you’re working, running errands or relaxing.

That’s not to say you should make yourself unreachable. Just ensure that checking up on work doesn’t get in the way of valuable family time. Leave replying to emails and returning calls for your dedicated work time.

Social media scheduling

Social media is a great way to keep business activity ticking over. You can schedule posts to go out  to keep your customers engaged and informed. If it’s beneficial, set aside time to create posts to go live while you’re away.

However, in line with communication and managing expectations, be aware that there are consequences to using social media to make it appear as though you’re still working. If it appears as though you’re open and active, customers may feel neglected when messages go unanswered or your store is closed.

Self-care is cool

While you’re balancing work and family time during this busy period, don’t forget to look after yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that you fail to find time to take a breather. And remember that your business won’t fall apart in a week or two!

It’s no use getting back to work and feeling like you need a holiday after your holiday. Burning out won’t help your family or your business, so go for a massage. Go to bed early and sleep in late. Eat your favourite food. Buy yourself that awesome item that’s still in your cart. Read. Beach. Look after yourself and get back to work raring to go.