In reality, I don’t know any entrepreneur who has not, at least in the early stages, worked 60 hours a week plus – living and breathing their business virtually 24/7. I am not talking about those people who do a bit of business on the side to be creative or to bring in some extra help with the school fees (and good for them). I’m talking, instead, about us totally bug-bitten entrepreneurs, whose businesses are the totally dominant factor in our lives.
In the early years, at least, most of us put in unlimited hours regardless of remittance. Even when I wasn’t working, the business was on my brain and I could usually be found writing obscure notes to myself such as “George’s assessment due”, “new coffee maker”and “check cash flow”. Only narrowly have I resisted taking a shorthand notebook and pen to my bedside table at night.
Why do we do this” Quite simply, it’s because we are completely and utterly passionate about our businesses. It is almost always motivated by more than just making money and is a lifestyle choice – a love that rules everything we do. While others discuss sport or the theatre, we would just as happily discuss our latest sales figures.
For some, that passion remains as strong as ever as time passes. Equally, some of us get a little older and a little more tired. We start to have middle-age crises and ask meaningful questions about our lives. It is then, perhaps, only a very stubborn willpower that keeps us working 60-hour weeks. With the shaky economy stretching before us, for many of us the possibilities of huge financial gains have receded into unlikely dreams. Continual staff troubles and or endless red tape have dragged many down. The dreams have become part-disillusionment.
It is then that a much better work/life balance becomes essential. With decades of experience under our belts, sheer knowledge and experience can be applied in an effective but less emotional way.
I have to bite the bullet and admit it is also an age thing. Some of us are not the young and hungry people we once were. A well-balanced, energetic individual with all-round interests will be a great deal more creative than one haggard old exec huddled in an exhausted heap, getting more and more depressed and wondering what on earth happened to their lives.