What Is Work-Life Balance?

Why work-life balance is especially difficult for small business owners

Father holding baby daughter and working at laptop in kitchen attempting to balance home and work life.
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Work-Life Balance is the idea that a person's life outside of work is just as important as their working life. And that the time a person spends working should be balanced by time spent doing things such as spending time with friends and family, keeping fit, doing hobbies, traveling, etc.

On the plus side of work-life balance, the idea does bring attention to the fact that being a workaholic is detrimental to a person's physical and mental well-being. Socializing, physical activity, and being with friends and family are all activities that contribute to being healthier and happier.

On the minus side of work-life balance is the assumption that work is some drudgery and that the more you do of it, the worse off you will be (except, perhaps, financially). This whole 19th-century sweatshop idea of work being debilitating, grueling, and soul-destroying shortchanges the positive aspects of work, such as the satisfaction one derives from achieving goals, creating things, and exercising one's brawn and/or intellect to solve challenges.

Work-Life Balance for Small Business Owners

The positive aspects of work are one of the great things about running your own small business; you get to do these things, sometimes daily. Therefore, you may be particularly prone to spending too much time on the work side of the teeter-totter and letting your work life interfere with your family/personal life to the detriment of your relationships.

You need to guard against this by making sure that you are giving your family and friends the time and attention they need and by looking after yourself. If spending too much time working or letting work interfere with your personal life is or has been a problem, make some resolutions to improve your work-life balance.

It may even be time for you to Downsize Your Business.

Many people find that making an effort to incorporate some time management into their lives makes a considerable improvement in their work-life balance. 

Delegating or Outsourcing at Home or Work Frees Up Time

Many small business owners, particularly that have started their businesses from scratch, have a great deal of difficulty delegating even minor tasks to employees. Fear of loss of control or spending money is one of the usual reasons. 

If finances are not an issue and you have employees, sit down and make a list of minor tasks that you can delegate (if you don't have employees consider hiring on a contract or permanent basis). Examples of tasks to delegate include:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Business website design/maintenance
  • Social media postings (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Creating and sending out promotional material, newsletters, etc.
  • Customer support
  • Data Entry
  • Deliveries/Pickups
  • Invoicing
  • Filing (paper or digital)
  • Purchasing office equipment and supplies
  • Technical support
  • Paying bills
  • Making bank deposits
  • Booking flights, hotels, rental vehicles
  • Office cleaning 

The same applies to your home environment. Do you enjoy doing house and yard maintenance during your time off work? If not, consider outsourcing or engaging family members to perform some of these tasks:

  • Yard maintenance - mowing lawns, maintaining shrubs and gardens, pruning trees, etc.
  • Washing windows
  • Cleaning gutters
  • Housecleaning
  • Laundry
  • Grocery shopping
  • Painting

Your Work-Life Balance Responsibilities as an Employer

As an employer, you need to be aware of the work-life balance issues of your employees and support their efforts to reach a comfortable work-life balance in their own lives.

Example: You may find that hiring someone to help out in the business can improve work-life balance immensely.