When I started my first company, I made a vow to myself that no one would be able to “outwork” me. I believed that if I put more time into my business than my competition, it would make me successful. I became the worst workaholic you could imagine. I would actually leave church on Sunday–and then head into the office. I worked 7 days a week and I created that culture for my employees, too. You could call my office at 8pm and my assistant was still there answering the phone. Now, I always bought lunch and dinner for my staff, but I didn’t have a life and neither did they. And even though my company did well, I am not so sure it was because of all those hours at the office.
It is true that in the first couple of years your business, it really owns you. But be careful not to give all of your energy to your business and completely neglect your family and friends. Make a point to at least twice a week end your work day at a reasonable time. There are too my entrepreneurs who are divorced, because they did not make their families their #1 customer.
Here’s a small quiz that will help you figure if you are on the road to burnout in your business. Answer these questions Yes or No.
- Do work long hours = 5 or more nights a week?
- Do you prefer to be at a networking event instead of at home?
- Do you know how to relax?
- Do you still have a date night with your spouse?
- Have you recently spent time hanging out with friends?
- Do you still regularly do any of your hobbies?
- Have you recently read a book for fun?
Your answers to these questions should make you think hard about what your top priority is for your life.
So, how did I finally stop devoting every waking hour to my business?
I was forced to take it easy when I became pregnant with my son. Due to complications with my baby, I had a high risk pregnancy and was put on bed rest for 6 months. I was forced to get a smart phone, and use technology more effectively. I was really only able to work 4-5 hours a day when I felt up to it. I had to delegate more and depend on my staff much more than I ever had. Once I had my son, I never returned to my workaholic ways. I am now a family first entrepreneur. I figured out that my time is what my family needed most, if I wanted to have a family.
Are you a reformed workaholic? Tell me how you finally got your life back from your business?
For more tips on starting or growing your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog at www.succeedasyourownboss.com
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America’s leading small business experts. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of MFE Consulting LLC, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. She has been featured on NBC Nightly News, the Tavis Smiley Radio Show, in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur and Black Enterprise Magazine. She hosts #SmallBizChat weekly on Twitter for emerging entrepreneurs and publishes a resource blog www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also the author of the national bestseller Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works. (Adams Media 2010)