Updated: Sep 17, 2019
"If startups were easy, everybody would have one!"
A colleague said this to me years ago. I was in my office on Mother’s Day making the final changes to a marketing plan that was due for presentation to an investor group the following day. I felt enormous anger over being at work when I really wanted to be home with my children.
But, did I truly want to be at home? At the time, I believed that I did.
However, I wasn’t there. I was at work. My being at work on Mother’s Day was a choice. It was a decision that I made. I could have chosen to stay home and tried to reschedule the presentation. I didn’t.
That weekend taught me a lot about the path upon which I’d embarked. Further, I learned a very important lesson!
Sure, entrepreneurship demands sacrifices — from the entrepreneur, her family, his friends, and her colleagues. The entrepreneur’s path is rocky, and very often lonely, yet the rewards in opportunity and growth can be amazing. Despite all of the challenges, I learned to be more conscious about my choices and more diligent about my priorities.
Since then, I've arranged my schedule such that neither my family nor I suffer from the potential excesses of entrepreneurial life. How did I manage it? I made several changes both in my life and in my business activities.
First, I learned to say, "No." I also changed my approach to scheduling meetings and activities by constantly asking "What is another way to approach this [meeting/activity/deadline]?"
I also started asking more questions about people's deadlines, such as:
"Is this deadline necessarily driven by another meeting (or activity) dependency?"
"What is the critical path for decision making about this matter?"
"What happens if we move this deadline to next week?"
Next, I became very conscious about managing my time. I blocked time on my calendar for all of my activities and meetings. I typically scheduled my most important deadline items in the early hours (8 to 10 am) of the morning. In addition, I set an expectation that I would be unavailable for meetings before 10:30 am. Friday afternoons were my planning time. I mapped the coming week, Monday through Friday, then.
The final change I made regarding time management was that weekends and holidays became nonnegotiable. I was not available barring a "life and death" emergency.
The following year I was at home with my children on Mother’s Day and my startup didn’t suffer one tiny bit!
Is your startup/small business taking over your life? Let's talk!