Work/Life Balance for Entrepreneurs: Part 1

By Griffin Hill

I am currently sitting in Starbucks, frantically typing on my feather-light MacBook Air while sipping my overpriced Ethos water. I told myself I needed to buy the water; I can expense it, after all. This is business.

I get married in three short days, yet the bulk of my attention will go towards running my startup in Colorado Springs while I spend the week in Nashville. My computer is overloaded with guest lists and rehearsal dinner menus, but business calls. My fitness studio opens just a month after the honeymoon. How can I be expected to only focus on the wedding when my baby is back in Colorado?

“My baby” is a term of endearment that I often use for my business, and I feel that it is quite fitting. If I don’t nurture it, it will die. If I don’t invest in helping it grow, it will die. And, if I don’t spend 99% of the money in my bank account, it will also probably die. Those who don’t own their own company or control their own career don’t understand the pressure to constantly be attentive, even when you aren’t physically present. The problem is intensified for those of us who can work remotely. Others think distance makes us safer, more balanced, more “flexible”, but we know the truth. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, eh? Well absence also breeds panic attacks, and lots of them.

A business is indeed a baby, whether it is a 200 person corporation or a remote hacking job. It’s always ironic to me that entrepreneurs are constantly pressured to find the elusive myth of “work/life balance”, while young couples are left in peace to endure their island of isolation as new parents. No one tells parents to leave their newborn for a night out on the town. No one tells parents to take a few days off from caring for their infant because “they look like they need a break”. It’s a crime of misunderstanding between the nine to fivers of the world and the entrepreneurs. As much as we’d like a day off, we just became new parents, and those spreadsheets are crying for our attention louder than a screaming baby on a plane.

All metaphors aside, there is a difference. Businesses do have breathing room, but it’s all about time management. There may always be more work to do, but the trick is that you can decide when it gets done (outside of emergencies). The world needs to get off of our shoulders about work/life balance because our work is our life, and that is a great thing because it involves so much passion. However, planning ahead and delegating are not options, they are necessities if you want to avoid burnout. We all need a babysitter now and then.

When people congratulate me on escaping the 9 am - 5 pm grind, I retort by saying that I chose the 5 am - 9 pm route instead. Yet, I still find time to sleep and exercise and enjoy a Sunday afternoon. I am thankful for the luxury my work provides: the joys of travel and customizable schedules and open deadlines. But, I know that my work must always be done on the front-end to be successful. My vacation reminder will go on the day before my wedding and stay on throughout my honeymoon. These are times worth enjoying, even if I work down to the wire the day before to make that happen. Realize that work is your life as an entrepreneur, stop trying to split everything into compartments. You will never be able to turn one off to focus on the other because they are one in the same, and things will constantly overflow. Work/life balance is all about prioritization, not categorization.

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