The Work-Life Balancing Act is at least as important among entrepreneurs today as is the concept of creating a successful business. I like to think I’m one of the Work-Life Balance pioneers, as I created a business to achieve just that in 1990, before the internet and the dot com revolution. Men and women still wore business suits to work in those days.
I started my first business when my first child was six months old. My boss, who had taught me a great deal about work, was a charismatic leader who saw life balance as a sign of weakness. After my son was born, I yearned to get home before the baby was asleep, even when there was more work to be done (and there was always more work to be done). My boss diagnosed my distracted interest in the child as a nervous breakdown. The work pressure, a deep need to spend time with my new child, plus added pressure from the stage whispered condemnation for my weakened state was too much for me. My solution? Start a business.
As the business grew, I recruited people who wanted to work hard at work and have time for their personal lives. By the time my second child was born, there were 6 people in my sun room with computers, printers, telephones and fax machines. The noise was extraordinary, but for quite some time it was worth it in order to have time with the kids. However, as the base of customers grew, background sounds of kids, the Cookie Monster and barking dogs became too much of a distraction, and I moved the business to an office building within a 10 minute drive from home. No point in losing time in a commute, I thought, and it was important to be close enough to home for the occasional emergency.
Within a decade, the business grew to 160 people who sought Work-Life Balance. We created business cases, launched new products, grew customer bases, improved customer service, reduced churn and improved profit margins for tech companies in DC, Boston and New York. Work-Life Balance did not limit our productivity, but rather enhanced it.
Just before the tech bubble burst, I sold the company to a publicly traded company. Work-Life Balance turned out to be a good choice for me.
I told this story last night to my 23 year old child, the baby who inspired me to start my first business. I admitted to him that Work-Life Balance for me had meant plenty of time away from him and his brother, leaving them to the mercy of a string of nannies, some great and some awful. That’s when I got the greatest reward of all. “You did a great job, Mom,” said my son.
Here’s to achieving Work-Life Balance in your business!