Striking a balance between work and your personal life is difficult for anyone, but it can be a nearly impossible feat for small business owners. There's just no way around it; running a business and long hours go hand-in-hand.
According to the 2013 Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, 57 percent of small business owners work at least six days per week, and more than 20 percent work every day. And even the best delegators often feel pressure to continuously monitor operations, resulting in a massive amount of gray area between being on and off the clock.
What's interesting is that most small business owners are content. A 2015 survey by Manta found that more than 90 percent are happy with business and happy with their personal lives. Perhaps they're on to something, and this gray area (like taking a call while on a vacation) doesn't have to be a negative. Maybe the success factor is a harmonious blend of both worlds vs. any kind of perfectly even balance. So, instead of battling to keep work and life in two buckets (as many of us do daily), it seems business owners have found contentment with the overlap of business and personal life.
Embrace flexibility for work and play
Technology makes getting quality work done on the go easier than ever. You can take an active role in meetings from anywhere, collaborate in real-time from different locations, and track everything from inventory to security from your couch. If approached thoughtfully, the resulting flexibility can help create a near perfect blend of business and personal time. The key is to allow yourself to take advantage of it on all fronts - not just to get more work done for your business.
I know from my own experience that it's very difficult to set aside specific hours for work -- and that's okay. An intermingling of personal business and work allows for a freedom to play all important roles -- from parent to CEO -- without always sacrificing one for the other.
Discussing dinner plans with a significant other, taking an hour to run errands when it's most convenient, or altering meeting schedules to ensure you can attend a non-work event can alleviate stress and ensure more productivity. For blending to be successful, all aspects of life and work have to receive prioritization, and viewed from a unique timetable versus trying to shove everything into the typical nine-to-five box.
Include friends and family during work time
If you're like most small business owners I know, you spend the majority of your days -- and even nights -- at work. Again, sometimes that has to be okay, but just don't let your office become a no-entry zone for friends and family. Encourage visits from those close to you and embrace these opportunities whenever possible. This doesn't mean there should be a disregard or disrespect for the work going on, but it solidifies the idea that work isn't always something that occurs in isolation. And for anyone with a family, allowing them to visit will nurture understanding for the inevitable vacation interruptions or late evening calls.
Whether you buy into this idea of blending or not, use it as inspiration to think about how to create the best scenario for you and your business. And since, as a small business owner, you most likely already love what you do, you're already one step ahead.