Even though the lines sometimes blur between home and work while working as an entrepreneur, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
When I worked a corporate job, there was very little room for staying in contact with my family or spending quality time with them. This included even virtual mediums—the job allowed minimal contact with the outside world. In my case, I couldn’t have my phone, get on Facebook, or even make personal phone calls from my desk phone! This meant reaching out only through Google’s G-chat. I remember constantly G-chatting with my brother, trying to get updates about different things, or asking him to call my wife about dinner. It was quite a hassle and very inconvenient. Imagine what could happen in the case of an emergency!
Being an entrepreneur and running your own business allows you, for the most part, to set your own schedule, which can greatly affect the way you communicate with your family. This can be a blessing or a curse when it comes to wanting to touch base with them during the day. I absolutely love being able to take two hours in the middle of my day to drive across town in order to have lunch with my dad. It is also wonderful to be able to have the time to sit back and breathe, and to enjoy my time with my wife and family without feeling the pressure to constantly look at my watch to make sure I am on time and on schedule. However, setting my own schedule puts the responsibility on my shoulders to make sure everything in the business is getting done. The tradeoff is absolutely worth it.
Now that I’m not working by a structured, limited, corporate schedule, I see the results of the flexibility from my own business. If I had to pick some of my favorite results that occur now because of this change, I’d have to say mornings at home with my wife. She teaches dance in the evening, so my old desk job left us passing like ships in the night on most weekdays. But now, I am so grateful to wake up and get to spend time over coffee with her without feeling rushed. Now there is a great sense of accomplishment; investing the time I have available now back with my family is something I am extremely thankful for every day. Time spent with family is filled with precious moments to be cherished.
Despite the new schedule, there are aspects of life that need to stay segregated so that the ups and downs don’t affect each other. Drawing the line between work-related events and personal events can be challenging, but must be done in order to be successful. One of the best lessons I learned was that even though I worked at home, which would give me the opportunity to interact with my family more easily, I had to force myself to shut the door to my office for stretches during the day in order to maximize my productivity. Otherwise, I was constantly on-call and could be interrupted many times throughout my day.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to help my wife or family, but we can all understand that things need to get done, and there are times when work comes and needs to be completed without being interrupted by personal matters. I had to take responsibility for my business and segregate time throughout my day to ensure that I was taking care of business. Closing my door and letting business be business was a great lesson for me. Furthermore, it has made a big difference in my productivity.
As my company grows, I don’t want to become overwhelmed in the way I was in my old corporate job; I’d like to keep my current touch points with my wife and children. In business, I know my strengths but I also know my weaknesses. I hope to continue to staff my company with individuals who are even better suited for aspects of my job than I am. I hope to continue to find talented employees to take care of those things, allowing me even more freedom to oversee instead of micromanage. In the end, this will create better results for my business and still allow me to maintain a healthy communicative relationship with my family.
The life I’m cultivating for myself shouldn’t be limited to just lucky-me. I am also able to encourage my team to both work hard, and breathe deeply. I can lead a corporate culture where everyone is able to strike a work/life balance. This will allow us to work hard, accomplish great things, and still have meals with our families. Instead of hearing that our children are learning, we can watch them learn! Instead of leaving notes for our partners, we can spend time with them! And at the end of the day, we can be part of a successful organization, setting a trajectory for amazing accomplishments, knowing our hard work will bring us what it should: better, satisfying lives.
Photo credit: Flickr / Jeremy Levin Design