Maintaining your business AND your relationship

work life balance
work vs family: road sign with business man and person with partner and child representing different priorities in life

There’s been quite a bit written recently on the psychological toll that entrepreneurship can take on business owners and their relationships. It’s probably about time too.

For far too long most media pages and sites have been devoted to everything overnight success, lifestyle and the “luxuries” that come with running your own business – especially if you’re a unicorn like Google, Facebook, Canva, etc. But let’s face it there are only 266 unicorn companies worldwide (as of 2018). And I’m going to assume that you’re not one of those.

But I’m sure, even inside those magical firms, you’d find a slew of psychological turmoil. Especially psych issues caused by tumultuous personal relationships. Why? Because it’s not just about the money; it’s never just about the money. Building a business can be hard and unforgiving. And not just for owners, but for their spouses and families too. Businesses require time and space – both of which are often taken from the entrepreneur’s family; none more so than if business and home are in the same location and under the same roof.

These days, but now more than ever, I often get calls from wives/husbands, girlfriends/boyfriends, life partners, sometimes even mums calling, fed up, on behalf of their partner/child asking how we can help solve any/all of a number of problems:

  • Overwhelming mess in the kitchen, dining room, spare room, bedroom.
  • The dog barking its head off every time a parcel is delivered (and that seems to happen a LOT).
  • A computer that’s never off, so that “one last email” can be sent at midnight.
  • “Never-ending bloody phone calls” that interrupt family time, all day, every day at all hours.

Or my favourite;

  • The angst that all the family members feel having to have a “perfect house” so that when clients come to visit, home looks pristine – “just like an office”.

There are weeks we have so many of these calls, I feel more like a counsellor than a Virtual Receptionist & Office Solutions Advisor. I kid you not. I’ve even had people cry on the phone.

If you’ve been running your small business for a while you’ve probably experienced some of the fall out from this drill. You know that your partner/kids/parent is miffed by all or any of the above. But what can you do – I mean it’s your business, right?

What can you do?

Well, at the risk of wearing my “counsellor” hat, it comes down to respect and communication. Yes, they know you’re doing your best to build your legacy, pay the bills, provide for a family, etc, but they’re also very aware, that what you do impacts, sometimes hard, upon their lives.

  • Start with a conversation with your significant other about how they’re feeling. Really listen. Don’t just have your next answer at the ready.
  • Brainstorm possible fixes – it might be as simple as having someone else (not from your family) answer your phone or agreeing that six pm (or whatever time) is the time the computer goes to sleep each night or that you’ll hold client/team, etc, meetings in a more professional space somewhere that’s not home.
  • Get them to hold you accountable. And if you stuff up – which is to be expected – apologise.
  • Carve out time and space just for them (no phones, computers or work). They’re important to you.

You might think they’re just your family or that it’s just time, but relationships are the only things that really count in life and time is the only currency you’ve got. After all, no-one ever died saying “I wish I’d worked more”.

Roland Farrugia, SOI Virtual Receptionist & Virtual Office Solutions Advisor, Serviced Offices International