When you tell people you’re an entrepreneur, most people imagine the dream lifestyle: a six-figure bank account, vacations on your yacht, working where and when you want. The reality, of course, is rather different. How do you balance business life and social life?
While most entrepreneurs love what they do (one study shows they’re the happiest people on the planet), that doesn’t take away from the fact that being an entrepreneur is hard work. You need to reply to emails at any hour, manage payroll and tax, chase up leads and search for new staff. And all that extra work can be a drag on your work-life balance.
One survey of small business owners found that almost half of them cancel social plans at least once per week. And 50% of entrepreneurs say they work more than 50 hours on an average week.
Of course, if you love what you do, doing some extra hours might not feel like work. But, managing your social life is important as a small business owner.
Let’s look at why it’s so important, then cover some practical steps you can take to manage your work-life balance better.
The risks of being a workaholic without a social life
Entrepreneurs tend to be very driven people. You’ve got an idea you’re super passionate about.
But, just because you can work long hours, doesn’t mean you should. The risks of not managing your work-life balance include:
Missing opportunities: sometimes you’re so focused on small tasks, that you fail to see more important opportunities which could bring you a lot more value
Losing the passion: if you work yourself to the bone, your business could eventually become the thing you hate
Damaging relationships: whether it’s with your partner, friends or family, working too hard means you spend less time with the people who count
Burning out: if you don’t get enough sleep and spend too long under stress, your mental and physical health could take a hit – see evidence of the impact of rest on your performance
Ways small business owners can get back their social life & balance
So, what can you do to avoid these risks and get back your work-life balance as a small business owner?
The ability to delegate tasks is essential as an entrepreneur. If your company already has some employees, you need to learn to hand over some of your work to them, allowing you to focus more time and energy on strategy. If you work alone, there are a ton of online platforms where you can search for accountants, data-entry staff or web developers. Delegating these tasks allows you to give yourself a little time to breathe and think.
2. Set aside time to exercise!
Setting aside some time to exercise during the working week is essential. If you’re getting up at 5am every day and living off a diet of coffee and snacks, you will end up sick! It’s super important to dedicate a little time to your health at least twice a week. Whether that’s going for a run, visiting your gym or taking your bike out for a ride, a good exercise session stops you from doing work at the same time, meaning your mind is totally focused on something other than work.
3. Take mini-breaks
Entrepreneurs tend to take a lot less vacation than employees. That’s no surprise – if you’re uncontactable for two weeks, a lot of your clients will potentially go elsewhere for business. Mini-breaks are a great solution here. Even if it’s just once per month, take a Friday off work and go away for the weekend. Get a change of scenery and switch off your work phone.
4. Re-evaluate your customer list
Do you know that client who calls you late at night with extra demands? The one who manages to get you to effectively give them free advice or work for less than its real value? The one who takes up all your attention? It’s time to evaluate if that customer is really worth the money they’re spending.
Many entrepreneurs have at least one customer like this, and they can be really exhausting. If the relationship just isn’t worth it for you, it might be time to ask if you’d be less stressed letting them go and working with a less demanding client.
5. Set clear boundaries
Last but not least, you need to set clear boundaries around your work time and your private time. Sure, there’s got to be some flexibility here. Nonetheless, you should set yourself rules that you stick to. Turn off your work phone after a certain time in the evening. Focus on your family (and food!) during your evening meal. Give yourself at least one day per week where you do no serious work.
Balance your work and social life like a boss
Working yourself so hard you get exhausted and disillusioned isn’t smart (a.k.a. “busy is the new stupid”). As an entrepreneur, you need to manage your time in a way that allows you to get some of those rewards of being a small business owner – using some of the money you’re earning, treating yourself, and spending more time with your loved ones.
This article was written by Amanda M. at Book Like a Boss: At Book Like a Boss, we aim to help small business owners manage their work-life balance better. Our tools take out a huge amount of the admin time entrepreneurs spend managing their client calendars, taking payments, and booking appointments. Learn more about our tools here.