Entrepreneurs are absolutely terrible case studies for work/life balance.
Well, most of the time, at least.
Some of us are so bad at not working that our personal lives and mental health deeply suffer as a result of it. Entrepreneurship is often wrapped up in our passions; if you're building a business around something that you really enjoy, it's easy to dedicate the entirety of your life to it. The lines begin to blur between your work and the rest of your life. This kind of blending can easily lead to burnout, a lack of motivation, and more.
How can entrepreneurs do a better job of creating work/life balance?
What You Do Sets the Tone
Building a business by yourself means you're entirely in charge of everything. Whether it's bookkeeping, customer service, or sales, you're the one that handles it all! That also means that you're the only person in charge of setting your schedule, deciding where you work, and everything in between. In normal corporate settings, things like your schedule, location, vacation policies, etc. are all determined by an HR department or at least by the company's policy.
Most entrepreneurs don't have these types of guidelines for their Company of One because... well, it's just you.
That means that the boundaries we typically associate with working at a larger business can go out the window when we're on our own. Who cares if I work all day from the comfort of my bed? What does it matter that I take customer calls at 9 pm on Friday nights? No one can tell you different because you're your own boss.
As your business grows, however, the habits that you set early on influence the culture that you're creating in your company. Your first employee will often take cues from your work patterns and mimic them. Your customers will expect the level of service that you've established with them to continue.
You've locked yourself into a cadence of work that may not be sustainable.
Self-awareness Makes a Difference
It seems like entrepreneurs are uniquely blind to things that will hinder them from achieving their goals. If you think about it, it makes sense! We get focused on the outcome of success and choose to do all things in our power to ensure that it comes true. We create solutions to challenges and overcome obstacles instead of quitting. Sometimes, we're not even aware of the problems we have until they're shoved in our faces.
This is why being conscious and purposeful around the way you work can help create a better work/life balance.
If you set hard boundaries around when, where, and how much you work, those same boundaries will transform into policies or the generally accepted "way we do things around here" as you begin to grow. Being aware of the way you work helps you to prevent burnout, set up yourself and your employees for success, and scale your business sustainably.
The best way to bring self-awareness is to seek feedback from other people. Whether it's a spouse, an employee, or a friend, our close relationships have an incredible ability to speak into our lives with deep knowledge! By asking other people to point out your habits or help you better understand the way you work, you'll become more aware over time.
The standards of your ideal work/life balance can change and shift with time. Your needs can also be incredibly different from other people's! As long as you continue to work towards creating a balance that works for you, allows you to continue to be effective at work, and creates a culture that is conscious of the ways you work, you're on your way.