I have been talking to, studying, and writing about entrepreneurs since 1981. Heck, I am even married to one.

And the fact of the matter is, after interviewing probably 4,000 entrepreneurs in my lifetime, I have come to this conclusion: If you are going to build a successful company, there is no such thing as work-life balance.

I have never met a successful entrepreneur who spends as much time on his/her personal life as he/she does on his/her professional life.

I am not judging.

I am not saying this is a good thing or a bad one.

I am just reporting.

Now, it's possible, I guess, that somewhere some entrepreneur has, indeed, achieved work-life balance. (And if you know of someone who fills the bill, please send a note.)

And I suppose you could pick nits and say, "Well, it all depends on what you mean by success." Sure, if you define success narrowly--making enough money to support your family, for example--then work-life balance is more than possible.

But if we are talking about success as we typically do, as the achievement of fairly impressive goals, then no.  I have never met an entrepreneur who has achieved work-life balance. He or she spends more time at work than anywhere else.

Now, I have heard entrepreneurs say they strive for work-life balance. They have talked to me about how they have written it into their company's mission statement; and I have heard countless stories about how they worked until the last possible minute in L.A. and then flew all night to catch their 4-year-old's dance recital or tee-ball game on the East Coast.

But would anyone--including the entrepreneurs--say his or her life is balanced?  Well, no.

Why I Am Bringing This Up

It is important to confront this issue head on, if you're building a company.

Starting a business is difficult. The list of potential headaches is endless, and the demands on your time are even worse.

It is going to be hard to be successful, even if you give the business everything you have got.

But if you are endlessly distracted--"Should I really be at work right now? Why am I at home when there is a huge problem at the office?"--it is going to be close to impossible.

Pick what is most important to you.

It could be building a successful company.

It could be spending more time with loved ones and friends.

Whatever it is, be clear in your own mind which has the priority, and know that there are going to be tradeoffs.

Things are never going to be in balance, no matter how hard you try.

Accept that, and go from there.

 

Published on: Jun 20, 2014