~by Brandon Greene~
Many small business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals struggle with balancing their family life and achieving their career goals. Some people get frustrated and give up on their dreams altogether, while others push their families to the wayside in an effort to further their careers.
Neither one of these situations is ideal or completely beneficial in the long run. Without a balance of both family and career, you will most likely end up with one or the other — not both. I think it’s important to have both in your life in order to be truly happy and fulfilled.
Family is Important
Family is important because it’s what keeps you going. Good relationships with your spouse, kids or friends will make you happier and more productive at work than you could ever be without these relationships. I’ve always found it ironic that so many people are career driven in an effort to provide a better life for their families and end up neglecting them in the process.
This is particularly true in the industry that I am most familiar with: public accounting. Like all industries, public accounting has its slow seasons and busy seasons, but most businesses’ busy seasons don’t compare to tax season. This four-month grind of business and individual tax deadlines is enough to suck the life out of anyone.
During tax season, it wasn’t uncommon for me to work 80-90 hours per week. Couple this with an hour commute to and from work each day; it left me with little time or energy to spend with my family or maintain an actual social life. This type of schedule isn’t healthy or sustainable. This might be why the average public accounting career only lasts a few years.
After a few tax seasons of never seeing my family, it really started to wear on my attitude at work. I dreaded tax season so much that November and December turned into a count down to the end of my life instead of fun with the family around the holidays. I was less productive at work and less enjoyable to be around outside of work.
The lack of balance in my life really affected my output, creativity and motivation at work. This isn’t a phenomenon unique to public accounting though. You can experience the same thing in your business as well. A lack of balance in your life could be making you less productive and holding your business back.
Your Business is Important
Your business is important for many reasons. Obviously, it’s a means of supporting you and your family, but it is much more than that. Building a business gives you a sense of accomplishment and feeds your competitive drive. It’s also a lot of fun.
After growing tired of tax seasons, I decided to leave public accounting and start my own business. I quickly fell into the same dilemma of running my business or spending time with my family. Knowing that I didn’t want to make the same mistakes that wore me out in public accounting, I decided to implement these three practices in my business to ensure my work-life balance and grow my business.
#1 Delegate Unnecessary Tasks
Being a control freak is a recipe for stagnation and failure. Not to mention, it takes up a ton of your time. I realized very quickly that I can’t do everything and don’t want to do everything. Thus, I sat down and analyzed my business to identify the activities that didn’t really require me. Most of these were simple administrative tasks that could easily be delegated to one of my employees.
By removing unnecessary tasks from my schedule, I was able to focus on the things that mattered, and spend less time at work and more time with my family.
#2 Build Family Time into My Business
This concept sounds very unproductive, but it really isn’t. I looked at my schedule and made time to spend with my family during busy weeks. For instance, every Tuesday I meet my wife for lunch. This doesn’t take any time away from the business operations, but it helps maintain a balance in my life.
#3 Work from Home
Working from home isn’t an option for every small business owner, but I’m sure you can find some tasks that can be done from home. For instance, answering customer emails or sending out purchase orders can easily be done on the couch while watching a movie with family. You might argue that this isn’t “quality” time since I’m still working, but it does beat the alternative of me being at the office.
Both are Important
In short, both family and work are important. Having great relationships in your life will make you more productive at work and more motivated to take on the competition. On the flip side, not letting your business take over your life will allow you to make and keep great relationships. It goes full circle.
Take a look at your business and see if there are any areas that you can adjust to improve your work-life balance. It’s more than worth the effort.
Brandon is a public accounting survivor and the founder of the AIS CPA exam home. He uses his experience in accounting and knowledge of the CPA exam to help students with their certification classes and start their careers in accounting.