Let’s talk about one of the most sought-after achievements many small business owners have: a perfect work-life balance. As an entrepreneur, work-life balance is undoubtedly something you are hoping to achieve, and most likely one of the main reasons you quit (or didn’t even pursue) your 9-5 job.
When it comes to my own entrepreneurial journey, this was definitely the case! I was just starting my family and I knew that I wanted to home to watch my kids grow up and be the mom they needed as they navigated school and life. In my 15 years of experience running my wedding planning company, Blush, and this coaching business, I’ve learned a lot about what it actually means to have a work-life balance — and why the idea is often romanticized.
So, in today’s blog post, I wanted to talk about a bit of a controversial take: why entrepreneur work-life balance doesn’t exist. First, let’s take a second to talk about expectations versus reality.
It’s all too common for newer business owners to believe that entrepreneurship is the magical key that unlocks a life that’s perfectly balanced between work and family time or play. When they find out that’s not true (at least, not right away) feelings of failure can surface.
Working with dozens of creative entrepreneurs has taught me something about this phenomenon: the feelings of failure and dissatisfaction are really a result of feeling like our business runs us instead of us running our business. I don’t think I’ve ever met a business owner who said “I started my business so I could work 20 hours a day, not sleep, and feel constantly worried I’m failing”.
Let me ask you this to put things into perspective: have you ever felt like you’re juggling 150 glass bottles all at once, and if you look away for even just one second, they’ll all come crashing down around you? This is what it feels like to feel like you have no control.
I won’t sugarcoat it: starting and running a business demands a lot of energy, emotion, time, and attention. Not to mention, we all have different ideas about what our perfect schedule looks like. Some people love working and hustling, while others prefer working at a more leisurely pace. The truth is, work-life balance isn’t something that is inherently built into the role of an entrepreneur — you have to make it happen, actively, every single day, with your actions.
This is why work-life balance, in its most perfect form, can’t possibly exist. However, learning how to take control of your business instead of letting it take control of you is something that’s applicable for everyone, even when all of our thresholds are different.
You can definitely hire a team to alleviate this pressure and responsibility, but the one thing you can do right away that won’t cost you a dime that will help you achieve the closest thing to a real entrepreneur work-life balance is setting boundaries.
The truth is, most entrepreneurs are people pleasers, and we think that in order to please our clients, we need to be available 24/7 so we can answer their needs at a moment’s notice. This creates unrealistic expectations and an unsustainable schedule.
Boundaries are not only healthy, but they’re imperative to the long-term life of our business. Think about it: a burned-out and overwhelmed CEO can only run at 110% for a short period of time. At some point, you (or your family and friends) won’t be able to handle the stress and you run the risk of giving up and walking away from your business. This is something we talk about extensively in my CEO Mastermind group because it’s a very common problem! So don’t feel guilty if you tend to do this — where our boundaries lie is something we all have to learn about ourselves eventually.
So, now you know why entrepreneur work-life balance doesn’t really exist because we all have different thresholds. You also know that no matter how you like to work, it’s possible to take control of your business instead of the other way around.
Next, let’s talk about how you can transition into a mindset of taking control of your business and setting boundaries that will make you feel more positive about your business and grant more time for personal your life.
This is the first tip I give to any entrepreneur in my CEO Mastermind group or 1:1 coaching: tell everyone your office is closed on Mondays and do not, for any reason, allow meetings with employees, vendors, contractors, clients, etc.I know this feels counterintuitive because corporate work weeks start on Mondays, but as a creative business entrepreneur, your Mondays should be reserved for catching up and doing admin work, so you don’t have to try and catch up on Sunday evenings. (Sunday scaries, anyone?)You can listen to this podcast episode I did with Meghan Gillikin to learn more about why Mondays should be protected in our industry.Here’s what I reserve Mondays for, so you can get some ideas about what you can also focus on:
Now that you’ve got Mondays blocked off on your calendar, decide which one to two evenings you will allow late appointments (if applicable), and stick to this.One of the key ways to lessen frustration among clients and family is to communicate with your spouse that you’ll be working late on those evenings so it’s not a surprise.On the rest of the days of the week, log off by 5 PM and stick to that as well. I’m sure you’ve experienced the feeling of just wanting to keep going — it’s easy, especially when you work from home and there’s no authority figure telling us to go home. However, if you give yourself a set amount of time to work during the day and commit yourself to those hours, you’ll be more productive during your work hours and it’ll be easier to turn off when it’s time to leave the desk. Plus, your mental health will appreciate it too!
The last tip I have for you for taking control of your business is to recognize that you don’t have to respond to client texts and calls after work hours. To mitigate this from happening too often, be super clear about your office hours with your clients.I always tell my clients they can text me whenever they want, but I’ll respond during the next business hours. I promise you that your clients don’t need 24/7 access to you! The only exception I would make to this rule is if you’re an event planner and it’s the week of their event for any emergencies.
I hope you found a lot of value out of this blog post, and that you feel empowered to take charge of your business!
If you’re still feeling like you need a little extra help to set up your business in the way that gives you that balance you’re looking for between work and personal life, you would love my course, Time Block Your Business! In this short and fun video course, I’ll teach you how to time block your business and show you the tools you need to craft a schedule that works for you so that you can increase your productivity while improving your mental health! Click here to grab the course.
I help creative business owners sustainably scale their business so they can create a thriving career and work-life balance.
small biz coach
I have experience speaking at both live and virtual events, educating creative and wedding entrepreneurs how to step into their role as CEO. If you're looking for speakers for your next conference, workshop, event, or the next guest for your podcast, I'd love to see how we can collaborate!
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