We all know that launching a business is hard work. Yet so many people don't quite understand the emotional toll that starting and running a business takes on the entrepreneur. Startups take so much out of you and so often it feels like they give little in return. Part of the reason for that dynamic is because you invest so much energy and also because you allow your business to take over your world. You quickly lose perspective - and that can adversely impact your vision and your ability to lead. And to be honest, to be happy.
Here's one thing I've learned: If you don't work, your startup won't work. It does you no good if you burn out. So one remedy to maintain your health as a person is by focusing on work-life balance.
It sounds easy, yet work-life balance can be very polarizing for entrepreneurs. It can be difficult to get beyond the idea that you can't afford to set those boundaries or your startup will fail if you take your foot off the pedal - even for a moment.
Yet when you really take notice, you'll find that there are a number of wildly successful entrepreneurs who understand the importance of work-life balance - and they're successful because of it. A focus on work-life balance enhances an entrepreneur's ability to lead and instills a more positive workplace culture, which can spark morale, productivity, and retention.
Here are a number of entrepreneurs and companies honoring work-life balance side of their ambitions.
1. Change your relationship with technology
Thrive Global is a media platform founded by Arianna Huffington for the purpose of helping entrepreneurs and individuals stay sane and be more productive in their lives. The platform shares articles and tips to anyone looking to improve their productivity and have a better work-life balance.
Huffington believes that one way productivity would improve and work-life balance could be better achieved is by changing our relationships with technology. Most people have an unhealthy and unsustainable relationship with technology that, if changed, could have a positive impact. Rather than wasting time using and being consumed by technology, entrepreneurs should set boundaries.
I've incorporated this advice in 2018 and have reduced my time on social media by 66% - and I'm already seeing results.
2. Make balance a priority
Patagonia has long been the standard-bearer of strong company culture. The organization has put just as much time and care into building an internal environment that promotes balance and happiness as it has in manufacturing its collection of innovative and durable outdoor apparel.
From the beginning, Patagonia's executives recognized that they didn't want to just build a company that drove revenue. They wanted to build a workplace that actually excited people. One of the ways they have succeeded in this is by focusing on employees' families.
In addition to paid paternity and maternity leave, the company also runs an on-site childcare center that does more than simply watch children. The center is run by teachers who also provide children with learning opportunities. This is one great way to bring the importance back to our lives, not just our KPIs.
3. Focus on the Big Picture
SELECT is a chic credit card designed with millennials in mind. It transforms any existing credit or debit card into a black card that unlocks VIP perks, pricing, and experiences at thousands of premier destinations around the world. A project like this is ambitious and it certainly comes with the roadblocks, stress and dynamic pace that all startup founders experience.
SELECT's founder, Carlos Cisco, recommends that entrepreneurs always focus on the big picture of both their businesses and their lives. "The temptation is to work all the time and forego all the things that make you happy on a personal level," says Cisco. "That's what you want to avoid. You should continue to focus on and cultivate personal relationships, love, and family relationships because those things are more important in the long-run."
Now five years into my startup, I can say that this is especially true. While you must be more discerning with your energy and time, I'm happier when I prioritize my relationships.
4. Prioritize Self-Care In The Office
Azazie is an e-commerce marketplace that allows brides and their bridal parties to order custom-sized gowns. It's undoubtedly stressful while handling large bridal party orders, all the logistics that goes with fabric sourcing and production, and meeting client's extremely high expectations for this special event in their lives.
To help balance that stress, the Azazie team believes that in order for a company to thrive, self-care must be implemented from across every department. To support a collaborative, creative, and stress-free environment, the company offers in-office perks like relaxation rooms, where employees are encouraged to retreat when they need to take a break, and maybe even meditate.
5. Lead Mindfully
When Asana's co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein sat down to envision their future-focused workplace productivity company, they didn't just focus on sales goals and fundraising. They also committed themselves to building an organization steeped in mindfulness and openness - placing just as much important on those metrics as their business metrics.
The two co-founders are deliberate in their dedication to carefully designing, testing, and progressing internal culture to ensure that all employees across all levels feel supported and balanced. From surveys to one-on-one feedback meetings, Asana employees are empowered to share honest feedback as to how they feel at work and how their work-life balances can be improved.
As you can see, there's a benefit to focusing on work-life balance and on the antidotes to the stress and startup life. Not only do these five techniques make you happier, they will also help you to be better at work. When you think about it that way, you're actually optimizing your success and your happiness at the same time. That's efficient - and efficiency is worth more than gold to an entrepreneur.