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Entrepreneurhood: What Does Work-life Balance Actually Mean?

According to Google, work-life balance is “the division of one’s time and focus between working and family or leisure activities”. A lot of people have said that they’re either doing too much work, or there’s not enough free time for “me time”. They’re also the same bunch of people who complain about doing overtime, not being paid enough, and how working 8-9 hours a day is seriously “cramping their style”.

But that’s not the people we’re focusing on. We’re focusing on the people who’re starting (or looking to start) their own business. We’re focusing on the people whom the internet has collectively swept under the umbrella of “entrepreneurs”.

Is it possible for an entrepreneur to have work-life balance?

If you were to ask an entrepreneur if they felt that they were working too hard, you’d get a mixed bag of yesses and nos. Some of them will tell you that they’re doing what they’re passionate in, and that’s why even when it’s hard, it’s never too hard, because to them, it’s worth it. Some of them will tell you how this is still what they’re passionate in, but it gets really exhausting some (most) of the time.

However, if you were to ask the same entrepreneurs if they have “work-life balance”, they’d tell you there’s no such thing. Their work is their life and their life is their work. Anything else takes second place.

Forbes #1 tech and business social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk is a self-professed hustler. However, according to the workaholic, that doesn’t mean “waking up at the crack of dawn and exhausting yourself until you collapse”. It means that during the time you’re at work, you are full-on 100% committed and focused to the tasks at hand.

In the year 2011, Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg media, tweeted, “The entrepreneur’s dilemma: Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep. Pick 3.”

She was determined that you could only have 3 of the 5 choices if you wanted to do great work, but the CEO has since changed her mind about some things. She still thinks that you can only pick 3 everyday, however it doesn’t always have to be the same 3. This discovery has allowed her to keep picking 3 and have all 5 in her life.

What about work-life Integration?

The problem with the concept of work-life balance is that “equal distribution” has a different meaning for everybody. Not everyone thinks of it as 8 working hours a day, no disturbances outside them. Some people want more working hours, some want less. The equation for work-life balance is a constant recalibration of scales as priorities shift and people marry, have families, or get more invested in their career.

A new school of thought on work-life balance has been growing in traction recently: work-life integration. The idea is that instead of trying to balance your work and life, you should just fuse them together. It means involving your personal life in your work life, or combining interests with your work, or even just planning your schedules such that work and everything else go hand in hand.

For entrepreneurs, it means working with people who are also friends, whom they enjoy spending time with, and with whom they can have fun working with. It means making work an exciting place to be, where work is also play. It can even be as small as having more breaks in between work.

For some, they turn their hobbies into work. Take something you’d be happy to do for free and monetize it. You’ll have fun and earn money at the same time! Isn’t that great? …Perhaps not so for everyone, because for most of us, part of what makes hobbies fun is that you’re not obligated to them. So while this is possible for some entrepreneurs, don’t expect it to apply to everybody.

What’s your choice?

Which school of thought do you think applies to you better? Balancing your work against your personal life, or combining both? While integration seems the way to go, there are many people who prefer to separate work from personal pleasure.

What’s your preference?

7 top entrepreneurs who LOVE failure

Gary Vaynerchuk

In a post called “There’s no ‘undefeated’ in entrepreneurship”, founder of Vaynermedia Gary Vee counts 6 of his recent failures right off the bat:

“In the past year I shut down two divisions at VaynerMedia: VaynerLive (our focus on live events) and VaynerSampling (our product sampling division). I had a social network called Cork’d and a developer/designer community called Forrst. Even after doing a successful 1000 episodes of Wine Library TV, I only did Daily Grape for 84 episodes.”

However, he hasn’t allowed these failures to faze him at all. He states that he is obsessed with failure and loves mistakes. Indeed, the social media guru says that he’s always making mistakes because he can learn from them and that he is never afraid to try new ideas, even if they look like they might fail from the start.

Tony Robbins

The world’s number 1 peak performance coach who has coached both presidents and celebrities alike. A crazily successful business owner of more than 30 companies. A fulfilling and supportive marriage. Tony Robbins has it all.

But the international speaker (who has also written several bestselling books) has also made his fair share of mistakes.

He married his first wife, Rebecca “Becky” Jenkins, out of a sense of obligation and stayed in the marriage for 14 years. One of his former business partners left him to foot a $150 million bill.

But he hasn’t let any of those mistakes prevent him from moving forward. And now, he is leading an extraordinary life and teaching others how to do the same.

Cr: hitenism.com

Hiten Shah

Founder of 3 wildly successful companies, Crazy Eggs, KISSmetrics and Quick Sprout, Hiten Shah is one of the most successful internet business entrepreneurs. However, even he has made bad choices. He shared that he and his co-founder had spent $1,000,000 on a web hosting company that never launched. They were so infatuated with building the perfect web hosting company that they forgot to understand their customers’ point of view.

Now, Hiten says that “We have now learned to spend smart, optimize for learning and focus on customer delight.”

Cr: shareable.net

Robin Chase

The female American transport entrepreneur who founded GoLoco, Buzzcar and Zipcar, Robin Chase is a woman not to be underestimated. Having previously ranked in Time’s 100 Most Influential People, she is an inspiration for women all over the world.

However, when she first started GoLoco, she admitted to having “built the website first and asked our customers about it later”. This meant having to undo many of her previous assumptions once customers started giving feedback.

Cr: seroundtable.com

Rand Fishkin

The former CEO of MOZ and co-founder of Inbound.org admits that they have repeatedly made the same mistake. They built “big bang” projects that required many months of development time without much visibility into progress.

According to Rand, “It’s sad because it actually worked a number of times, before we fell flat on our faces with a recent project that started in Q4 of 2011, was initially supposed to roll out in July of 2012, and has now been delayed until (fingers crossed) September of 2013. Missing something you budget and plan for by more than a year is really bad news in the startup world.”

What has he learned from that? “Use agile development, have lots of visibility into progress, and keep your team accountable to each other.”

Cr: michaelhyatt.com

Michael S Hyatt

An author, blogger, speaker, and the former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael Hyatt has also made mistakes. His biggest? He allowed growth to exceed his ability to fund his business.

In 1992, he borrowed money to fund his growing company and unfortunately did not understand the difference between rapid growth and healthy growth. Eventually, the growth consumed his capital and the business failed.

Now, he warns others that if they are tempted to seek outside funding, it is a sign of a flawed business model.

Cr: thechronicleherald.ca

Sandi Macpherson

The founder of Quibb, a successful network that allows users to share industry news and analysis, said that she had previously spent 6 months building a product she wouldn’t use very often, in a market she wasn’t familiar with, for users she didn’t understand. That’s three big mistakes altogether.

It made it extremely difficult to figure out why things were or weren’t working, and she ended up creating a product that no one wanted.

It is an important lesson to remember: always be an expert in your product. Don’t ever be swayed by trends!

Are You REALLY Enjoying Labour Day…?

Labour Day is here…yay?

As the weekend approaches, people all over the world rejoice at getting a “long” weekend. The smarter ones have taken the 30th off so that they can enjoy a full 4 days of undisturbed rest and relaxation.

However, this applies to only regular 9 – 5 (or whatever office hours there are these days) employees.

As an entrepreneur, the entire outlook is flipped on its head, crumpled into a ball and tossed down the drain. The usual reply you would get from an entrepreneur when people mention a holiday is, “Oh, so everybody will be free to meet and discuss the business.” Or “Yeah, we’re going to launch a promo then so we’ll be up all night.”

It’s not easy to be an entrepreneur, but you already knew that.

There are many reasons why people become entrepreneurs, but it’s widely agreed that those who do go that route conform to certain personality types. They…

1. Want freedom at work

Freedom to decide how they want the job to get done, how it should look. Basically they want to have their input in whatever job you assign to them.

2. Stick their fingers in everything

EVERYTHING. If it’s an app, they’re involved in the development, the design, AND the marketing. If it’s a product, they sell it, they improve it, they stay up all night to plot out how it’s going to infiltrate the market and grow. 

3. Want the work to MEAN something

They don’t work for the money (at least it’s not the main reason) they do it because they want to give back to society, want to build something original, want to realize the vision they have in their head.

4. Are insanely competitive

They want to be the BEST, they want to EXCEED expectations, they want to be GREAT. If they’re not, you can be damn sure they’re working their way up there.

Nothing in those 4 points indicate a need for rest days. Instead, overtime is a daily occurence to entrepreneurs. They’ll kick back and rest when they die, or get old and slow down…or burn out. After all, despite the overwhelming amount of passion and energy, they are still human and sometimes (most times) passion is not enough to keep a business going.

At the end of the day, the best way…

There are ways to alleviate the stress and exhaustion, but at the end the best way is to go into things prepared for the long haul. Don’t expect the business to take off in a year like it seems every other business is on the news. Be clear that for the next 3 – 5 years of your life you will be virtually eating, drinking and sleeping your business.

Late night calls to clients because they’re in a different timezone? ✓

Staying in office 2 days straight to fix problems/complete paperwork? ✓

Flying to different countries consecutively – screwing up your biological clock in the process – to pitch to potential clients/support events/attend seminars? ✓

For the first few years, you won’t be able to go on a vacation without constantly checking in on how things are going back home. The saying that a business is like a baby is so true – if you leave it alone for even a short period of time, it will die.

Thus, if you’re looking to go into entrepreneuring…be prepared to reply “So what?” when somebody tells you it’s a holiday.

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