Ah, the weekend. For those with "regular" jobs, it's a time to relax--a time to pursue interests outside the day-to-day grind of the working world. On the weekend, work may be the furthest thing from the minds of those who work for someone else.
Then, there are entrepreneurs.
Let's face it--when you're an entrepreneur, there really is no weekend. At least, that's true for many of us who've pursued an entrepreneurial path.
Entrepreneurs eat, sleep and dream their businesses. For them, being forced to take "downtime" on the weekend may even be viewed with disdain. But, why do weekends present such a conundrum for entrepreneurs?
1. Work is not really work
For entrepreneurs, work is life. It's their passion. There is no Monday through Friday mentality. It's not uncommon for them to stay up until the wee hours, then rise at the crack of dawn in order to get more done. They don't really see the world in terms of a work/life balance--it's all about the work.
"Weekends can suck for a multitude of reasons, but my biggest challenge is that nobody else works. As entrepreneurs there's no such thing as 9-5, so I use this fact as a competitive advantage," says Andrew Medal, founder of Agent Beta. "In an effort to recondition my mind, and break free from societal norms I force myself to work odd hours. In fact, some days I intentionally don't work during traditional hours. I'll see a movie on a Monday morning, schedule meetings on the weekends, and work late hours at night. I work way more than 40 hours per week, but that's because my work days are not just Monday through Friday 9-5. My workdays are every day of the weekend, 24-7."
Studies show that entrepreneurs can have addictive personalities. It is, in fact, possible for them to become addicted to entrepreneurship. This issue was examined in a paper published in the Journal of Business Venturing. In spite of the risks to their relationships and to their health, there are those who repeatedly pursue launching businesses. But why?
Researchers found that habitual entrepreneurs can show symptoms of behavioral addiction similar to those who gamble, for example. These can include obsessive thoughts, withdrawal-engagement cycles and guilt. So, there may actually be a valid reason why entrepreneurs have difficulty separating their work from their personal lives.
Brett Baughman, Expert NLP Trainer & Founder of the Coaching Alliance says, "There are two keys to optimizing your potential and growing your business successfully; the right plan and discipline. You have the passion, now create a plan that uses your skills intelligently and be disciplined to stick to it. When done correctly, you will have more time than you need!"
2. Decisions impact family (finances that is)
When you're an entrepreneur AND the primary breadwinner, taking weekends off may be a struggle psychologically--because downtime = less income. So, while you're out at your child's ballgame, you may worry that your business will suffer. When covering the mortgage is reliant upon whether you land that deal you've been working on for months, it stands to reason that you may struggle to decide between working--or spending time with family.
Your business is your baby--it can be all-consuming. Although there's little research on the topic of higher divorce rates among entrepreneurs, it's said to be higher than that of the general population (which hovers around 50 percent). So, while treating your business with the urgency it deserves is top of mind, you need to also balance that with the cost of not spending time with your family.
Maybe there are ways to combine both work and family time. If you need to attend a work-related event, you may be able to bring your spouse--or even the whole family, depending on what it is. The same goes for trips--there may be ways to combine business and pleasure. Look for those opportunities and try to take advantage of them when possible.
3. Anxious for progress
Of course, entrepreneurs are painfully aware of the statistics about failed businesses. Well over 50 percent of startups fail in the first four years. This drives anxiety for those striking out on their own. There's no guarantee that they'll find success.
In addition, there are at any given time numerous competitors who are willing to work as hard--or harder--than you. Naturally, this feeds anxiety for entrepreneurs, as well. Take the weekend off, and you may just wake up Monday morning to learn your competition has launched that new product or service you were planning to roll out. This may contribute to the feeling that progress can't be made if you're out golfing instead of working.
And, in a study of entrepreneurs, the only significant predictor found across the board in those whose businesses made it past eight years was conscientiousness--so, not only are entrepreneurs anxious to make progress, but their conscientious behavior lends itself to the drive to move the business forward, while also making it difficult to give themselves permission to take time off.
This type of mindset may make them so anxious for progress that they'll go to any lengths to be sure they don't fail. But, working more may not ensure progress. In fact, this mindset may be counter-productive.
Some argue that giving oneself time off can lead to faster progress. Dan Sullivan, co-author of The Laws of Lifetime Growth, says, "You can create a solution in a shorter period of time if you're rested and rejuvenated." He goes on to say that the typical entrepreneurial mentality of viewing downtime as detrimental can keep entrepreneurs from maximizing the potential of their businesses.
So, the next time you struggle to take the afternoon off on a weekend, think twice about why--and fight against your entrepreneurial nature to never look away from the business by finding a balance between taking downtime--and making progress.