According to a study by insurance provider Simply Business, over one million hard-working small business owners compromise family and social life due to work pressures. Almost half of the 2,000 individuals surveyed cancel social plans at least once a week, a quarter take less than 10 days’ annual leave and 25 per cent have fallen ill due to stress and overwork.
Between balancing the books and establishing a reputation, starting up and running a business can throw its owner’s work-life balance seriously off-balance. Speaking to the Guardian recently, Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at mental health charity, Mind, commented:
“Having a good work-life balance, including regularly having time off, is key to staying mentally healthy… Every business owner wants to ensure their business is a success and this can mean putting in the extra hours from time to time. But consistently working long hours and managing an excessive workload can take their toll on our physical and mental health, with the potential to negatively affect business performance.”
There are ways that small business owners can address the struggle between work and leisure time, so Aldermore has sought the advice of experienced small and micro business owners who have successfully maintained a healthy work-life balance while simultaneously building a business.
Family-life and working from home
Small business owner and founder of craft company, Charlie Moo’s, Joanne Dewberry shares her advice on balancing running a business with family-life:
“I try not to work over the weekend as I believe it’s important to have a break from the business. It’s also important for me personally, as I set up the business to provide myself with an income, but I also designed it so that it would allow me to spend time with my children. I’ve never missed any school assemblies, shows or teacher talks and I’m always ready to collect the kids if they fall ill.”
Achieving an optimum work-life balance can be particularly difficult for homeworkers, with friends and family not always grasping the ‘working from home’ concept and numerous household distractions making it hard to focus on the task at hand. As a homeworker herself, Joanne also shares a top tip on how she separates her business from her home-life:
“Office Space – having somewhere where the business magic happens. That can be your dining room table but believe me from experience, sitting at a desk is far more productive than curled up on the sofa, laptop on knee and Bargain Hunt on the TV. My office space is under the stairs meaning I can walk away from the business at the end of the day and be just mum.”
Multiple micro-business owner, Tina Boden also imparts her advice on maintaining a healthy work-life balance, focusing on the importance of time management:
“Unfortunately the reality of running your own business, as many of the five million micro business owners in the UK will tell you, may not bring the work-life balance you feel it should. When given advice about starting up there are many discussions about business plans but little acknowledgement that you also need a life plan to go alongside this.
“Running your own business does certainly allow you more flexibility, especially if you are not tied to a business that has set hours that you need to be there. Picking up the children, caring for elderly relatives, going to the gym in the middle of the morning – all these things are possible but often the time needs to be made up somewhere else that day or week.
“It is important, to benefit from improved work-life balance, that you ditch the belief you have to work nine to five. It is fine that every day is a working day but take time back during the week if you worked at the weekend or in an evening. To help with this divide your diary into four sections 7.00am to 10.00am, 10.00am to 1.00pm, 1.00pm to 4.00pm and 4.00pm to 7.00pm. Ensure you only work three of those slots a day and a maximum of two slots at a weekend. If you work an additional slot make sure you take it back somewhere else. It really is that easy and with some determination can be achieved. But do remember as a micro business owner you are the head of your business and that business is like a member of your family.”
Dealing with the effects
Director of 4Hub CIC and Social Media Boom, entrepreneur, Naomi Timperley shares her experience of succumbing to an unhealthy work-life balance:
“Have I achieved a healthy work-life balance? Having worked for myself for the last 8 years I'm not sure I have yet! I was labelled as a "mumpreneur" to watch in 2008 and have been called a serial entrepreneur - none of which I would label myself. There have been certain expectations that I have had to live up to and like any entrepreneur I have had feelings of doubt and failure. All of which count towards a healthy balance in life.
“This year I was diagnosed with severe depression which has had a huge impact on my personal and professional life. I'm not ashamed of my depression and am working towards getting better but I know it will be an uphill struggle. I actually think work was a huge part in this and the pressure and expectations I set myself. It's important to have a healthy work-life balance in any role as your health and family come first.”
If you have any more tips or advice on how to achieve a healthy work-life balance as an entrepreneur, share your stories by tweeting Aldermore at @AldermoreBank.
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