Sunday, November 27, 2011

Entrepreneurship and Home Life

Being an entrepreneur has a direct impact on those closest to you.  Working for a company brings many advantages and disadvantages, as you have job security (in theory) but not necessarily the freedoms that come with being your own boss.   Entrepreneurship has a different impact, as work hours and security can be all over the map, while the freedoms you might expect are not always present in the early stages of starting your venture.  The responsibilities and pressures of growing a business mean that your family has to be part of your work life or they may feel squeezed out during the times when you are focused on work issues.

Your personal life can easily become intermingled with your business when you are starting or running your own company.  Regardless of is you are a solo-entrepreneur or leading a larger corporation, if you are the boss it can be difficult to have an "off-switch" when you get home.  Being self-aware of how engaged you are at home is important, as with today's technologies it is easy to always be plugged into work.

In the growth phase of a business money can be tight, which means sacrifices at home.  However, those who create successful and sustainable companies often can have financial windfalls that can more than compensate for the lean times.  But nobody enjoys sacrificing at the time, and thus a spouse and children must be included in conversations about the focus and purpose of the entrepreneurs efforts or it is easy for people to feel cheated by any hit to lifestyle.  While it can easily take three, five or ten years (or more) to realize the upside for the entrepreneur, that can feel like a lifetime for the family.

Additionally, if you make the leap from employee to entrepreneur after you have a family, it might not be the lifestyle that your spouse and children expected.  Being part of an entrepreneurial venture, even from the home-side of the fence, can be quite an experience.

Be sure sure that everyone at home understands the realities of living with an entrepreneur.  While the long hours for business can take a toll, there can also be flexibility for the entrepreneur to create a flex schedule that allows them to drive carpool, coach sports teams, and sneak away for long weekends with their spouse.  If work becomes overwhelming it is easy to let the home life responsibilities slip, but making family time a priority is the only way to keep yourself engaged in the day to day functions of a family.

Many entrepreneurs are driving by a dream, but if those around him or her do not share the dream it can make life difficult and create conflicting priorities between home and work.  Communication and clear expectations between everyone is paramount to making sure that there is not additional stress added to the home-front.

Including your family in the business is one way to make sure everyone has buy into the purpose of the entrepreneur.  This does not mean your husband or wife needs to be employed at the company, but everyone should know what is happening with growth of the organization.  Even young children will better understand when mommy or daddy are gone on a business trip when they know what it is their parent does for a living. 

There is a lot written about "Work / Life Balance", but there is never real balance.  Decisions are constantly being made in regards to where we put our attention.  Knowing our purpose at work and at home can make the tough choices easier for the entrepreneur.  Being honest with our co-workers, family and ourselves about what is needed to succeed in both areas will not solve all problems, but can moderate the misunderstandings and expectations. 

Have A Great Day.

thom singer


Marc Miller said...


I am going to use this topic in Monday's talk on the Multi-Generational workplace.

Marc Miller

Stefani said...

So true. I'm definitely living this compromise/balance. Great post.