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How to Achieve Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur

Here are two definitions worth memorizing about an entrepreneur:

  1. Enterprise   n.  An undertaking, especially one of some scope, complication, and risk.
  2. Entrepreneur  n. A person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

Based upon the common definition of enterprise, everyone’s life is one. We all deal with issues of large scope that call for complex decisions and involve potential risks. Whatever we choose to do in life, we face the constant risk of not making the best decision. In fact, life management involves more issues with lasting consequences than the largest of corporations.

Each of our lives really is an enterprise and we are all, by definition, entrepreneurs with many roles to play: CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, Human Relations Director, Maintenance Manager and more. We have a lot to look after as we plan and manage our lives. Few of us are great entrepreneurs, but we all fit the definition nonetheless. Most of us take on our roles without much awareness or thought and, as a result, fall short of living optimally rewarding lives.

Why should all of this matter to entrepreneurial business owners?  It matters for 2 important reasons.

1.     Work-Life Balance

The first and most important reason is that, as business owners, we will be better at life management if we recognize and frequently remember we each have at least two parallel enterprises to attend to.

I founded Decision Dynamics in 1966 and ran it for 32 years before I learned this. My few “vacations” were occasional weekends, and I worked out of my briefcase long after the kids were in bed. I justified my lack of balance with what seemed to be good reasons, as I looked forward to the wealth and free time my family would be able to enjoy “someday”. I did well with my business but in life management, I was miles from where I should have been.

2.     “Real” Human Resources

Secondly, as you begin to understand that your employees and stakeholders are also individuals deeply involved in life management, you will start seeing them for who they really are: vendors of services in mutual exchanges of value for greater value.

They will be more willing to devote time and talent in exchange for the worldly and inner profits that come with working in concert with others on a shared mission that they deem worthy of their participation. Seeing and treating your team this way will do wonders for the culture, morale and profits of your enterprise.

This probably sounds too philosophical and esoteric to be practical, but it is of near magical importance. We often hear that “people are our most valuable resources”.

Resources are what we use to achieve our purposes; however, people don’t like to be used. Instead, we can use what I call “real” human resources:

  • Knowledge – what people know about their organization, what their roles are within it, and how to be successful in their roles, and
  • Skills – their ability to apply what they know to be successful in their roles

When we treat all team members as service providers on a mutually rewarding journey to improvement, they will enthusiastically add their knowledge and skills to help make the mission as successful as possible.

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