Start-Ups: Creating a Business Plan That Suits Your Life

Striving to create the perfect work-life balance is difficult to most and can be even harder on entrepreneurs. Building a start-up business can take an emotional toll on a person and can lead to added stress as the line between “life” and work becomes almost indistinguishable. And while the entrepreneur bears the brunt of this pressure, their friends and family suffer a great deal as well; often leading to animosity and resentment toward each other.

When it comes to building a business, most people tend to focus on the downside of entrepreneurship. Things such as losing personal time, giving up a reliable paycheck, neglecting the health of mind and body, and even losing their investor’s money. These are all valid concerns, however few small business owners think about the less tangible risks like neglecting their social or romantic relationships and disappointing friends and family due to a lack of availability and attention. If left unattended long enough, these relationships could be lost forever, whereas a lost profit in the financial realm can always be gained back.

Due to the challenges that are presented by being an entrepreneur, many people forgo marriage and having children while trying to maintain their business because they feel that it may be easier to absorb the risks, uncertainties, and stresses of owning a business. By not committing to relationships, they are effectively responsible for no one else but themselves.  While this may seem like a permanent fix to a lingering issue, it’s really not a healthy way to live. Don’t fret! There are some techniques to building your company while maintaining your personal relationships. Disclaimer: You may never strike a work-life “balance” but you can craft a “precarious relationship” between the two, one that will require constant adjustment.

First, the only way for an entrepreneur to maintain (or salvage) his or her romantic and social relationships while pursuing their business dreams is through effective communication and establishing ground rules that cannot be broken. Next, they should consider establishing a “relationship-business plan.” This plan outlines how they will maintain and grow their personal relationships while simultaneously developing their company. The plan could consist of scheduled and recurring phone calls, priority responses to personal emails, or planned social activities with their spouse, family, and friends. Most importantly, this plan should incorporate “technology-free time” — no iPhone, no computers, and no way to be reached (if only for a few minutes).

This plan is only successful if one is truly committed to abiding by their established rules and boundaries. A “work-life balance” may not be possible for entrepreneurs in the traditional sense, but with hard work, they can make a big difference in the quality of their life and in the kinds of personal relationships they allow themselves to have.

Source: Kevin Colleran for Wall Street Journal Online.