Being a business owner, and your own boss, is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life, but it can come with some drawbacks such as long hours, stress and a poor work/life balance.
If you’re running your own business and want to stay on top of your game for the long-term, you need to look at the way you integrate work into your life. If you work too hard, you can run yourself into the ground and actually end up damaging the business, you so desperately want to succeed.
So here are 9 thing you can do to help strike the right work/life balance while running your own business;
1. Learn to say ‘No’
When you’re growing a business it’s important that you work towards taking on new work, but taking on too much can have a detrimental effect. Simply learning to say ‘No’ is one of the most important things any professional can do.
Think about the work being done and the capacity for more; will this new work put too much strain on staff? Will it be worth it? If not, do not take on the new work.
This doesn’t always mean turning down new opportunities, as being honest about your capabilities can be the first step towards a more flexible working relationship with your clients. They may be able to change deadlines or reduce demands, if it means a greater quality product from you and your company.
2. Work on the move (if you can)
Depending on your industry and how flexible it can be, you should try to work on the move, at home, or from a location that isn’t the office.
Working like this has been shown to improve creativity and passion for work. It also means that time spent traveling on trains to meeting or conferences becomes work time rather than wasted time. This means you’ll have less to do when you return to the office.
3. Make time for yourself
Making time to pursue the things you want to outside of work will do a world of good – even if this is simply relaxing in front of the TV.
Big plans with a group of friends or your family are great ways to unwind, but don’t feel stifled if you can’t make them. You can always host a casual dinner party or have takeaway dinners. Rather than thinking about the size of your plans, simply think, ‘What do I need to do to unwind?’
One thing that can drastically change your work/life balance is banning technology in social situations. Cut out the distractions of emails and social media updates, you may be surprised how much more engaging the time you spend with others is.
4. Embrace new technologies
Learning about and investing in new technologies can revolutionise your work/life balance and help you operate much more efficiently as a business.
New software and hardware is often designed to increase workflow and reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a task. This quicker, less stressful way of working means you will have more time to do the things that are important to your wellbeing.
5. Hire employees (if you can afford it)
Working alone and managing a large amount of work is a sure fire way of creating a terrible work/life balance. If you’re finding it difficult to manage the quantity of work you have, it may be the sign to hire a new employee.
Not only will this help you reduce your personal workload but it means you might be able to change the way you work and help you to expand your business. These guides will help you with taking on staff;
- The real cost of hiring your first employee
- Taking on an employee for the first time – 4 things you must get right
- How to hire employees when you don’t have any cash
- 5 tips to help you create a great team at your start-up
6. Introduce healthier food in the workplace
Cutting out unhealthy food and drink can lead to a better work/life balance as, if your energy, concentration and focus levels are improved, then so is your ability to dedicate time to both work and play.
Cutting down on fizzy drinks – especially diet drinks – is a valuable step as most of them contain chemicals which have been shown to be affect the brain and concentration. Caffeine for one affects the central nervous system and alters brain function, including stress hormones leading to feelings of anxiety and tension in your body.
Reducing sugar intake can prevent you from “crashing” later in the day and feeling overly exhausted after the work day. In the workplace, you can do this by ordering fruit to be delivered to your office for you and your staff instead of other snacks, or by switching to drinks like green tea instead of coffee for your caffeine fix.
If you work alone, think about what you eat and drink throughout the day and consider genuinely healthier options.
7. Enforce breaks
It’s vitally important it to have regular breaks during the working day; focusing for too long, especially in front of a computer screen, can lead to sensory fatigue and cognitive fatigue. Taking breaks allows your body chance to refresh, meaning that the time you spend taking breaks is more than cancelled out by the productivity you gain.
As such, you should make sure you and your employees take the breaks you are entitled to during the work day. Let them know when they can take breaks to refresh themselves and you’ll find many will take them in order to work more effectively. It’s all about finding out how people work best, and letting them stay at the top of their game, rather than being mired down in tasks.
8. Consider flexible hours
If you choose your own hours or employ members of staff, consider introducing flexible hours. Later starting hours are sometimes a great option for parents who want to spend time with their kids, so you could offer a system that allows for parents to come in when it is more convenient for them.
Try a similar system for everyone if you think this might help, and it will show that you have an active interest in the well-being of your staff, creating a family atmosphere between all of your colleagues.
It can be tempting to power ahead and put in extra hours in the name of helping your business grow, but doing this too much can be a detriment to your social life. Everyone has their own balance, and it’s important for you to find yours in order to succeed in business. Read these guides to find out more;
- Flexible working rights for all employees – what small businesses need to know
- How businesses can encourage a healthy work/life balance and benefit from more engaged and productive employees
9. Let hobbies and interests influence your work
You’ll struggle to have a great work/life balance if you keep your interests and hobbies completely separate from your work. Instead, try to tailor projects so that they allow you to express who you are in your off-time.
If you can bring a little bit more of yourself to your business, everything will feel more personal and, ultimately more fun. This makes it even easier for you to express your passion and get a client’s buy-in during presentations and meetings as you’ll naturally get behind ideas that you have a casual interest in, as well as a professional one.
About the author
This guide has been written for ByteStart by Matt Jones, who writes about business, marketing. Matt is currently working with Mont Rose College’s student support services to provide advice on achieving a better work/life balance as a student and on into the workplace.
More on getting the best out of yourself and your team
For more tips on being effective and growing a business, try these other ByteStart guides;
- How to avoid self-destruction and achieve your business goals
- The 3 issues you’ll need to overcome if you want your start-up to reach £1m turnover
- How you can build your business in 90 minutes a day
- How finding a great mentor could help you to grow, and your business to flourish
- Barriers to growth – how to identify them and how to overcome them
- Increasing your personal efficiency – how to get more done in less time
And for ideas and techniques on how to hire, motivate and keep great staff, read these guides;
- How to motivate employees and create a loyal workforce on a budget
- Team reboot: How to achieve employee engagement
- Using staff benefits to motivate and retain employees
- A Guide to mindfulness in the workplace – how it can help staff wellbeing and productivity
- 5 ways to motivate your staff without spending a fortune
- How setting up a salary sacrifice scheme can reward staff and mean lower tax bills for employers and employees