Best Ways to Maintain Work/Life Balance?
August 10, 2006 1:06 AM   Subscribe

AdviceFilter: I am thinking about starting a new business, but am concerned about maintaining a good work/life balance...

I have a wonderful wife and a fantastic 1 year old son. I utterly adore spending as much time as possible together as a family. We are also trying currently for our second child. I currently work as a senior-ish manager for a small software house in the UK but have always harboured entrepreneurial dreams. I am finally in a position whereby making this ambition a reality is very realistic prospect, but the thing holding me back is the possibility of compromising my quality family time.

Does anyone have any advice on how I can address this? Is it as simple as basic time management, in which case which systems would you recommend?

I really don't want to be the sort of husband and father that sees his family at mealtimes and bedtimes only....
posted by mooders to Human Relations (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You're likely to spend a lot more time working your own business than working a job especially in the early stages.

Two things will conspire to rob time from your family and my only advice is to be aware of them and strategize accordingly.

One: As owner there will be many things that no one else can do. You'll find yourself simply unable to delegate your way to a normal workload, which is the usual and correct solution for managers in established companies with too much to do.

Two: competition. Presumably you'll be competing with people who are in fact willing to sacrifice family time and work the extra long hours to win. This would be the normal situation. How do you plan to counteract that "competitive advantage"?
posted by scheptech at 1:41 AM on August 10, 2006


Harboring and even acting upon entrepreneurial dreams does not have to preclude working in your current environment.

I have recommended to people for years that they properly posture for self-employment, if that is what you are planning. If it is, then that means having a substantial pile of cash to bridge the gap between the existing job and self-employment. Logisitical details, like incorporation, insurance, required job assets, professional advisers and planned workplace, can all be arranged in advance of leaving. The most important thing to leave with is your relationship with both trusted suppliers and trusted potential customers, one of which may be your former employer if you play your cards right. The biggest things you'll miss is the inertia, community, organization and focus of working in a group. The biggest thing you'll get is self-direction on how you spend your time. Your workload will double and your stress will probably increase.

If you are considering a full-blown 'entrepreneurship', complete with venture capital, etc. there are a different set of problems. I have attempted that, and the competition for just the money for an average idea is extreme. Everyone I know who has been successful in such a setting has put in twice the effort of a normal employee with the rewards, when achieved, many, many years down the road. Not fertile territory for a new dad, IMO.

Good luck!
posted by FauxScot at 2:39 AM on August 10, 2006

"You don't own a small business; it owns you".

I'm not sure quality time and work / life balance are compatible with starting up a small business, unless you've got a very, very unique concept / product, and barriers to entry are sufficiently high to deter all competitors.
posted by Mutant at 6:18 AM on August 10, 2006

You didn't mention what it is you'd like to do -- if it's something you could do from home, mmmmaaaybe it could work. Otherwise you're looking at 12 hour days at a minimum and probably 7 days a week for the first few months at least.

As mentioned above, if you can do it part time and still work where you are now that's the way to go. Gradually grow into the business -- you'll have a chance to solidify relationships with partners and hopefully have a decent customer base when you make the leap.

Owning your own business is much less glamorous than most make it out to be.
posted by Atom12 at 6:36 AM on August 10, 2006

I was in a similar situation, and I worked on developing a home business designed to give me flexibility and time with the family. But it did require a serious downgrade of my lifestyle. When you work through the Internet, it doesn't really matter where you live, so we moved to a smaller town in Canada.

Most businesses' goal is to make as much profit as possible, but you can fine tune a business to achieve other goals, so as giving you flexibility and time.

In many cases you can start a business on the side while you're still working at your company. Dramatically reduce your living standard now, and start socking away the money. Within a couple of years you should have another savings and revenue from your side job to be able to step away from work.
posted by fcain at 8:38 AM on August 10, 2006

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