Have You Found Balance and Freedom In Your Business?

by Kim on February 18, 2010

Balanced rocks

Being an entrepreneur is a liberating experience. You get to set your own hours. You get to work on your own terms. You get to keep all the profits.

All are fabulous reasons to work for yourself instead of trading hours for dollars in the corporate world. However, without proper boundaries, self-employment has the potential to turn into a nightmare situation. As an entrepreneur, you need to take steps to ensure that you are running your business and that it is not running you.

Create Healthy Boundaries

It is certainly true that running your own business is hard work.  You will undoubtedly put in long hours, especially at the beginning.  But, how do you know when you have crossed the line from being a hard-working entrepreneur to someone whose life is horribly out of balance?

See if any of these sound familiar…

  • Even though you promised your significant other you would spend an hour every evening with them, that time often gets eaten up by business tasks that have to get done.
  • You haven’t had a weekend off in months.
  • While watching your son or daughter’s game or recital, you are silently watching the clock, waiting to get back to work.
  • Clients call you at all hours of the day, and you feel pressure to respond immediately.
  • You are unable to sleep at night because you are so consumed by everything that needs to be done.

If any of these apply to you, then you have let your business take over your life.  It is time to find balance.

When Your Business Becomes Unbalanced…

Remember why you became an entrepreneur in the first place.  Chances are you wanted more freedom — freedom to do what you love, freedom to spend your time as you like, freedom to dictate your own destiny.

So, why are you letting yourself be shackled to your business?  It should empower you, not make you miserable.

One of my coaching clients, Linda, is a realtor.  During our coaching sessions, I began to hear more and more about Sherry (not their real names), a woman whose house Linda had recently listed.  Sherry had been referred by a previous client that Linda had especially liked.  However, Sherry was an entirely different personality.

First, she was unhappy with the photos Linda took of the house.  Then, she didn’t feel that Linda was promoting it properly.  She would show up at open houses, criticize Linda publicly and then badger potential buyers.  She would call first thing in the morning and then call back every 30 minutes until Linda was available.

Whenever Linda started talking about Sherry, her voice would tighten up.  This otherwise confident and outgoing woman would stare at her lap and twist her fingers nervously.  It quickly became apparent that Sherry had monopolized Linda’s attention to the point where other clients were being neglected.  Linda has one mission and one mission only — to sell Sherry’s house and be done with her.

The Art of Saying No

As an entrepreneur, the most important word you can learn to say is — ‘No.’

Every time you say ‘yes’ to something, you are closing the door on other opportunities.  So, by saying ‘yes’ to the demanding client, the after hour calls, and the workaholic schedule, you are saying ‘no’ to your family, your dreams, and yourself.

You must learn to respect yourself and your time.  Set established boundaries for when you are available for work and let clients know that up front.  If they continue to contact you at all hours, don’t be bullied into working on their schedule.  You are the boss — you control when business hours occur.

And, if you promise your family that you will stop working at a certain time, stick to it.  If you find that you have weekly emergencies that pull you away from family, it is time to reevaluate your business plan and figure out where it is going wrong.

As for my client Linda, she eventually told Sherry she would have to find a new realtor.  It was difficult, but in the end, Linda discovered that no amount of money was worth sacrificing her happiness and freedom.

Image via :mrMark: on Flickr

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben Weston February 18, 2010 at 10:50 am

Great tips Kim!

It is often tempting to let tasks in one’s business just slip into one’s personal life. One experiment that has worked for me has been to wake up early, and not leave my desk for anything until I have completed my most important tasks. After that, I no longer hold myself to work and am free to spend time with my girlfriend.

Take care,
Ben

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Faizal February 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Tell me about it, sometimes our personal life becomes our work life!

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Faizal February 18, 2010 at 11:33 am

Hey Kim! I think your blog post is very good. I know a business owner who works 12 hours a day and even on weekends. His wife hates it because it’s ruining their family life. I think that we should learn to take advantage of all the technology available to work more efficiently. Also, sometimes it might be worth hiring a part time employee to handle some of the tasks because to me, the money I’ll pay them is worth it if I get to balance my life and spend more time with myself, family, and friends!

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Kim February 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

Hi Faizal,

I appreciate you stopping by! Great tip on outsourcing for work / life balance. Play to our strengths, right? 🙂 I look forward to visiting your work.

See you soon,
Kim

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Kim February 18, 2010 at 11:48 am

Hi Ben,

Hats off to your discipline! Here’s to “happy fools” dancing to the beat of their favorite music 😉

Take care,
Kim

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Catrien Ross February 19, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Kim, hello and thank you. I found you through your comment on Faizal’s inspirational blog. Your post is a really important reminder to us entrepreneurs about how to reconnect with the values that inspired us in the first place. Losing our sense of empowerment and joy is a warning that we have taken a wrong turning and need to find our true path again. From my small publishing company at the foot of Mount Fuji, Japan, greetings from Energy Doorways to you. Please visit my bilingual website/blog at http://www.energydoorways.com if you have time. I hope to share perspectives with you from this part of the world – Catrien Ross.

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Kim February 19, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Hello Catrien,
I’m so happy you stopped by — thank you! I look forward to sharing and learning more about your work. I will definitely visit. Sending you positive energy from California, USA.
Warm Regards,
Kim

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ayo February 19, 2010 at 10:39 pm

hello kim,
How are you?
Found you on catriens website. It’s a great blog you have here . I’ve spent some time going through some posts,subscribing and viewing other sections of the blog. its fantastic
Concerning the post above, I think you’ve brought out some difficult but important truths and at times we fail to realise if we are down, lose relationships, get distracted etc we wouldnt be able to build a profitable business or career.
have a lovely weekend

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Kim February 20, 2010 at 7:38 am

Hello Ayo,

I’m so happy you found me. I just saw you on my FB fan page and recently on Faizal’s http://www.betrulyhappy.com I look forward to reciprocating, subscribing, and learning more about you. I’m meeting so many wonderful people in personal growth and development — people who are helping me to shape and re-shape online. I’m excited to grow and evolve together!

It’s true, every aspect of our lives is intricately woven into our whole being. If one area of our life suffers, it is inevitably reflected in all areas.

Have a joyful weekend.

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