By Amanda (Contributor)
Edited by Ali Reza
The idea of being the person in charge and owning your own company is incredibly appealing to many people—especially because there is a belief that with entrepreneurship comes complete freedom. However, this idea of “freedom” is a bit ambiguous. Any person who is considering going into business for themselves must realize some startling truths—prior to cutting their corporate ties.
You Can Work Whenever You Want—All of the Time
A typical misconception about self-employment and entrepreneurship is that a person ultimately has the freedom to work whenever they want—setting their own hours and calling the shots. Now, understand that on some levels this might be true. However, when you are just starting out, the reality is that you might end up pulling some very long hours, especially as you work to establish and grow the company into something that is sustainable. “Entrepreneurs” who slack in the grassroots stages of a business oftentimes find themselves back in a corporate cubicle when their business idea crashes and burns.
At the same time, it is not a far-fetched dream to say that someday it might just be possible to work a part time schedule as the boss. Should you get into the position where you have an effective and hardworking staff who knows what is expected of them, internal processes that promote productivity, and a healthy revenue cycle, then yes, you might just end up achieving enhanced work/life balance as a business owner—but you must realize that is a goal to aim for, not one that will be automatically achieved as you just start out.
Work/Life Tips for Entrepreneurs
Therefore, it must be asked: How can an entrepreneur successfully manage their time as they ensure that their business has legs to stand on? Follow these tips to become a master of your own time:
- Recognize and respect your “prime time.” Every person has a time of day where they are most alert and most productive. This might be early morning for some people or late at night for others. One of the benefits of being an entrepreneur is having the flexibility to work when you are productive. Work around your natural highs and lows.
- Set deadlines—and stick to them. Starting out, you might have fewer deadlines on a daily basis than that which you experienced while working in a corporation. Nevertheless, don’t slack in this department. Hold yourself accountable. Being timely right now will help you establish a good reputation with your customers.
- Schedule downtime. As we noted, it can be very hard to achieve work-life balance when you are starting out. Therefore, schedule downtime into your days. If you don’t take some time to relax, you will get burned out, and your work will suffer.
- Create a “No Work Allowed Zone.” As an entrepreneur, you might spend time working from home. In this regard, it is very easy to have this work continually spill over into every facet of your personal life. Create a boundary zone where you do not respond to emails, you turn off your phone, and your files are set aside.
- Get enough sleep. It’s not necessary to elaborate on this point. Ultimately, every person needs enough sleep to be successful—entrepreneurs are no exception to this rule.
- Create a to-do list a day in advance. At the end of every day, identify what you must accomplish the next day and prioritize accordingly. Identify the phone calls you need to make, the projects you have to work on, etc. Surprisingly, people who do this at the end of a workday report less anxiety and are more likely to sleep better because they have a clear understanding of what is expected of them the next day.
- Know the value of your time and be aware of “time vampires.” Ultimately, as an entrepreneur you are in charge of your own success—you must identify what your time is worth. Moreover, be aware of people or things that encroach on and abuse that time. There is always going to be something or someone who wants your help (and your time) for free. Identify who/what these things are and devise a strategy for keeping them in check.
In closing, it is definitely a good thing to be your own boss—but you should never start your own business with the idea that you will have complete freedom. Think rationally and realistically—and always work hard. That’s the only way to ensure that you have the freedom to call the shots in your own life.