Stick to Your Guns
We all have that one friend who’s never available to attend any events or check out anything fun because they’re always working. You know who I’m talking about-- that person who left corporate to be their own boss and set their own hours. Yet, somehow they work more hours now than they did when someone else owned their time. You know that person, or even worse, you are that person.
It happens to the best of us, and I am willing to bet money that it's because that passionate, excited CEO fails to set (and stick to) boundaries for themselves.
Too often owners of small business find themselves working fifteen plus hours a day, seven days a week because of a false belief that they have to do so. They then mask their overworking as a celebrated hashtag- like #WorkHardPlayHard. This wouldn’t be that big a deal if they actually remembered to create a balance and fit in some of that "play hard".
Most new entrepreneurs work crazy hours and bend over backwards to accommodate their clients' schedules. This is especially common in service based companies where owners often feel like they can’t afford to turn clients away. The key to turning this imbalance around is understanding the type of clientele that will benefit more from you, than you will from them. Depending on your commodity, maintaining some type of leverage over them will allow you room to be more assertive with them, conditioning them to appreciate and work with a schedule that won't cause your business to fail, or cause you to burn out.
(This is the type of practice physicians use with patients- a physician doesn't change their schedule to see a patient, patients change their schedule to see them during designated hours.)
If you set some office hours for your own company and communicate those hours to your prospects, they will make themselves available during those hours. All you need to do is decide what hours you want to work, then stick to your guns. Your clients will respect your boundaries and stop calling you at all hours of the night and weekends because they'll know you’re not available.
Those who do not respect the new boundaries you set forth for your company will weed themselves out as clients who may not be suitable for your business. (Again, it is dependent on the commodities you offer, and the type of leverage that is available. As an entrepreneur, it is always important to keep in mind that what you offer must be of greater value in the eyes of your customer than what they pay.)
Another reason small business owners may find leisure time inaccessible, is because they fail to properly distribute the workload within the company. It is easy to want to take on as many projects as possible, especially if you are the mastermind behind each one. It is here that failure and burnout are imminent, and the importance of interns and protégés come into play.
There is a saying, "Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime". The same thing can be applied to your business. It is up to you to teach those under you the various operations of your business, or if necessary, designate one particular role for each person. Alleviate a portion of the stress of being the boss by first investing your time to train your interns or your protégés, then allocating a position for them that will be their responsibility.
At first it will still appear to be more work for you to tackle since teaching takes time and patience. Over time you will find that your new partner or employee is an amazing asset to your business, giving you opportunities to redirect your focus. It will also allow them to use their knowledge to train others in the company without putting more pressure on you.
If you can remember to measure the value of your business, the value of your time, and the value of teaching others, you will be able to remain a successful CEO, who still gets to make time for play.