Unless sustaining your status as workaholic business owner is something you wear like a badge of pride, it may be useful to step back and consider ways to strike a sustainable work/life balance. Many entrepreneurs start off resource-strapped and determined to at least keep the lights on, and usually this means long hours and a command-and-control culture. But even if you’re willing to maintain that mode indefinitely, it’s not highly scalable and ultimately will hinder your ability to grow.
Here are some things you can do to achieve a better work-life balance while still enabling your company to grow:
1. Ask yourself whether you’re all in.
A good place to start is to “get real” about your business objectives and goals. Are you dabbling in a new venture and trying your hand at entrepreneurship while still holding down your day job? And even if you’re all in, do you really know what you’re trying to accomplish with your business? Do you want to buy yourself into a job indefinitely where you are at the center of productivity, or do you want to own a successful enterprise that can run with or without you?
Depending on how you answer these questions, you may be more or less likely to achieve work-life balance. The perfect storm is to have solid commitment for the long haul, while recognizing your limitations in the present. That long-term thinking will enable you to weather the entrepreneurial storms and make decisions that will pay off for the business and for your own work-life balance.
2. Focus on core customer value
Whatever you went into business to do, you certainly expect to be very good at it. There is uniqueness to every company and the entrepreneur who takes the risk to turn it into a business. That uniqueness is core to value you deliver to customers, and you never want to compromise it.
As your company grows, things get more complicated than just being good at what you do. You begin hiring more people. You want to provide a good place to work with benefits and even retirement scenarios. Your payroll gets more complex. You have to pay taxes and comply with business laws and HR laws. Your technology needs become more sophisticated. Now there is much more to do than just that thing you’re good at, and it’s tempting to try to do things yourself. That’s a recipe for disaster for work-life balance!
Resist that temptation and consider some specialization. In HR and payroll for example, you can hire your own professional staff or partner with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) that can provide broad support for your role as an “employer.”
3. Hire for the long-term
If you have the long-term attitude for your business, it stands to reason that you will be best served if the people working for you share that same view. Recruiting and retaining top talent for your core business operations can be critical to your success with customers, and it is the best and most efficient way to keep work-life balance in check. Long-term, permanent employees are loyal to you and your customers, and when they take pride in the business, you don’t have to maintain such a high level of involvement and control.
Recruit people who share your vision and values. Look for ways to provide good, yet affordable healthcare and retirement savings options with the expectation that this is a place where an employee can stay. Commit to best practices in HR so that you remain consistently compliant and incorporate good policies for things like paid time off. And if all of this seems like one more area that is not “core” to the value you provide to customers, consider a PEO that can take care of all this for you at a price that is usually less than doing things yourself.
Achieving better work-life balance for entrepreneurs is achievable, and if you do it well, it can even be an indication that your business is primed for growth in the long haul. PEOs can help along the way by assuming many of the specialized responsibilities associated with being an employer.