One of the thing, as a founder, that I get asked a lot is ‘what about work life balance’ or ‘ ‘how do you balance work and the family’.
It’s the dream: you leave your J.O.B. (Just Over Broke according to the very great Robert Kiosaki.). The job that has you slaving away to meet the demands of The Boss. The Boss that has you answering your phone at any hour of the day - often a sense of impending doom rushing over you every time you hear it chime. The job that has you checking your emails before your first cup of coffee. The job that has you starting at the crack of dawn, working through lunch and leaving well into the evening, but still needing to finish everything on a Saturday and Sunday…
No wonder Entrepreneurship is an attractive proposition: take the plunge, break free from this life and go it alone. Yes, you’ll work hard, but you’ll work hard for yourself! And just look at Richard Branson….
The reality? Re read my first paragraph, only substitute ‘boss’ for ‘your new business baby’.
Only, it’s also often just the founder in the early years, so you don’t even have any work mates to moan with.
The idea that your new beginning as an entrepreneur will bring with it this lifestyle of late mornings, skiving off for coffee/ the pub/ a duvet day (‘your time is your own’ as it is commonly classed as) is, sadly, totally misplaced.
Work/life balance just doesn’t exist for a founder. You can never switch off, and, particularly for solo entrepreneurs, you literally just have to get the job done even if every part of you would rather be doing something else (ie, going to bed before 1am/ hanging out with your family on the beach/ going for a drink with your friends – generally doing anything other than working on your business for an hour!). My own extreme is 3 days post-partum, leaving the house (hideous enough) to drive 20 miles to our warehouse to build a pallet that a customer had ordered. My newborn daughter in the car, screaming her head off. Me trying to focussing on finishing as quickly as possible! It was completely hideous. But I had to get that pallet out, we needed to keep sale going and there was only me to make that happen.
So when I’m asked the question on work/ life balance I always say the same thing; they don’t balance, I don’t expect them to. But I also don’t see them as needing to be distinct from each other. Work – building the company – is a hugely significant part of my, and my family’s life. So why not let them coexist side by side rather than drive myself crazy seeking a balance that’s just not going to happen! The Start-up years will take all your time and all your effort. They require all the hours, all the dedication, all the mental perseverance. Maybe Tim Ferris can do it all in 4 hours a week but, despite trying, that is definitely not my lived experience…..
‘Love what you do and you’ll never work another day in your life’ so the saying goes. All the founders I know love what they do but work their socks off and endure super stressful times all in the name of doing what they love.
Work and life for a Founder are inseparable. I’m sure there is any other option really. Besides, its theses years of blood, sweat, tears, missed holidays, late nights, weekend work marathons and all the rest that will make a page turning autobiography, that obviously I’ll write from my hammock on the beach.