Just Say No: How to Maintain Work-Life Balance as a Small Business Owner Jonathan Herrick If you find yourself working at all hours of the day (and night) or scrolling through Facebook because you need human contact, something’s gotta give. Small business owners work harder than most, and it’s not always fun. Which is why setting limits for yourself is a must. Any business owner who is willing to spend countless hours on their craft must get some sort enjoyment out of it. That said, it shouldn’t be your only purpose in life or you’ll burn out while burning the midnight oil. You need work-life balance. Learn to let go. Your business’ health depends on you hiring employees. If you keep trying to do everything yourself, you will fail. You have a limited amount of energy and a limited number of hours in your day, so you need to be careful with both. As your business grows, you need to learn to delegate. If your company is not earning enough to allow you to hire but the work is too much for a one man team, you need to make a change very quickly. There are tasks that only you can do. These include business strategy, investment decisions and networking. These are the only tasks you should be spending time on because these will affect your future. Find time to plan. If you’re updating your website, writing sales material or posting on social media accounts, you’re not being the leader your business needs. None of these jobs needs your energy or vision, so find someone else to do them. Building your personal brand is another story. Identify your productive hours. If you’ve built a successful business, you clearly know yourself and your strengths very well. But it’s equally important to acknowledge your weaknesses and work on those. Understand how your mind works. If you feel most creative in the morning, spend those hours working on your business strategy and development. If you’re more of a night owl, adjust your schedule to allow a later start to your day. OR maybe you should train yourself to gradually wake up earlier, just as other successful people have. If you use your productive hours of the day for business-related tasks, you’ll get them done faster, leaving you more time for family, hobbies and exercise. Take time off. Really. When you start a business, you are the only person in it, so you do everything. We get it. The business is your baby, and it’s hard to trust others with it. Especially when you’re away from the office….for an extended period of time (sounds scary, I know). But let’s be honest, if you don’t have employees you can trust, you’ve got a bigger issue. The people you’ve hired to be part of your team are those you’ve identified as capable and cognizant of your company’s core values. Trust them. And take some time for yourself. Find a hobby. A work-life balance depends on you having other interests (which might seem difficult when you’re juggling all the tasks owning a business throws your way). Get outside of your mind and find something new that peaks your interest. It can be anything: hiking, online courses, public speaking with Toastmasters, charity work or even just spending a few extra hours with your family. Your business depends on your good health. And your mental health is a huge part of that.Take time to stimulate your mind and stretch your muscles. Your employees (and your bottom line) will thank you. Make the change. Your day is already full which means it probably seems overwhelming to add extra activities. But surely you’re not working at 100% efficiency already. Take a step back to see where you can become more efficient. You may not even realize the wasted time that you could be reclaiming or the activities you’re stealing time from. Lazy mornings in bed – Get up one hour earlier and go for a walk, do an exercise class or meditate. Or use that early morning time to answer emails before the rest of your world is awake. Rushed meals – Sit down with your family and enjoy a meal. If you’re going to make the time to do it, you should find enjoyment and slow down. It’s an important way to recharge. Any mindless activity such as watching TV – Everything you do should be as the result of a deliberate decision. Watch a movie by all means, but let it be a decision rather than the result of lethargy. Meetings – Before you schedule (or accept) that meeting invite, make sure it’s something that really needs to be scheduled. Can a few emails or a Skype knock the topic out quickly? Save everyone a wasted hour. Get a good night’s sleep – If you’re feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day, think about how much more productive you’ll be tomorrow with a good night’s sleep tonight. Instead of burning that midnight oil, get some shut eye. Tomorrow is a new day. You chose this life, but not to the exclusion of everything else that is worthwhile in your life. Is life passing you by? Your health, wealth and life depend on finding a solid work-life balance.