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Build A Business That Doesn’t Eat Your Life

If you’re planning on running a small business, it’s a given that you’re going to be dealing with long hours and lots of stress. Business ownership isn’t for the faint of heart, after all – it’s a difficult, high-risk lifestyle that’ll crush you if you let it.

But for all the roadblocks you’ll face, it’ll be worth it if, at the end of the day, you’re left with a successful, thriving business…right?

Not always.

“The stories of business success have an underbelly that is rarely talked about” writes Casey Graham, founder of The Rocket Company. “With every success story, there is a backstory.”

That backstory often involves a great deal of interpersonal strife. See, as a small business owner, there are two facets of your life that can end up in ruin while you work on cultivating your new brand. The first is your own frame of mind – your own personal well being. The second is your spouse, friends, and family; your interpersonal relationships.

They’re both part of the small business story that no one likes to talk about.

“I want to be authentic here,” continues Graham. “In 2010 & 2011 when we were going through some terrible times, I didn’t blog about them.  I didn’t blog about the fact that:

  • I went 80k in debt & had to lay off people
  • I was emotionally drained & disconnecting from my wife & family
  • I felt like a failure all the time but publicly I held it all together
  • I didn’t sleep for 8 weeks & worked around the clock
  • I had a failed business partnership.”

According to Graham, that frame of mind is a lot more common than you’d think. Plenty of small business owners, entrepreneurs, and CEOs go through the exact same mental marathon Graham did – and not all of them emerge unscathed. However, there’s a ray of hope here – Graham also insists that not everyone has to go through the same stuff he did.

The question, then, is simple: how can you keep things together without letting your business fall apart?

Taking Care Of Business…In Your Own Life

Graham offers three tactics that describe how you can avoid dissolving into a total mess whilst desperately trying to make your business thrive:

  1. Don’t let your business success define who you are as a person. You have real value to your loved ones outside the walls of your venture.
  2. Stress is in the eye of the beholder – the majority of it stems from toxic, negative thinking; “living consequences that haven’t even happened yet,” as he puts it.
  3. Your business cannot be your only source of fulfillment – you need your family and friends. Don’t neglect your private life to make your public life better.

I’d like to add one more suggestion to Graham’s list, given that most small businesses aren’t one-man shows:

  1. You have co-workers and colleagues. You don’t need to shoulder the entire workload. Have them help you run the business. These are capable people, otherwise you wouldn’t be working with them.

Easy, right?

How To Show You Still Care

Now, even if you’re keeping your own head screwed on straight, that doesn’t mean your loved one’s aren’t still feeling a bit resentful towards your business. That goes double for your significant other. Here’s where the balancing act gets a little difficult.

“For entrepreneurs and small business owners, long hours can take a toll on personal relationships, leaving your partner feeling taken for granted while you focus on growing your business,” explains Entrepreneur’s Nadia Goodman, who goes on to quote marriage and family therapist Rachel Sussman:

“Partners will often say they knew what they were getting into but it’s really wearing them down.  Your partner may feel alienated from you, taken advantage of, or overburdened with an unfair share of daily chores. Those issues often come out in a fight as an explosion.”

As for how you can prevent this resentment from building, Goodman has a few suggestions, but they all boil down to one thing: communication. Involve your partner and loved ones in your business. Talk through the impact it will have on your relationship, and make as much time for the people you care about as possible. This goes a long way towards preventing any breakdowns – or break-ups.

Keep It Balanced

If you’re a small business owner, it’s a given that you’re going to be dealing with a lot of hours and a lot of stress. At the end of the day, it’s up to you how you let all that stuff impact you. Your business doesn’t need to turn into an all-consuming chimera bent on ruining your life – and it won’t if you don’t let it.

Image credit: B Rosen

Andrew Horton

Andrew Horton

Andrew Horton is Digital Media Producer for ServerMania.