Don’t Let Your Business Ruin Your Life

Try this four-step process for finding balance.

Who is in charge of your life? You or your business?

Many times, business owners get it backward. For many entrepreneurs, their company defines not only their time and persona during the day, but also their thoughts and emotional state when not working.

Depending on where your company is on its life cycle, it may place unhealthy demands on you and create a great deal of stress in your personal life—potentially affecting your health, marriage and family.

Balancing a business with your desired lifestyle is not easy. The following four-step process, though, can help guide you toward that balance.

Take Stock of Yourself

First, you need to take time for personal ownership assessment. At minimum, you need to explore the following:

  • Personal financial goals
  • Family and health issues
  • Desired lifestyle and goals
  • Personal risk tolerance
  • Management team capability assessment and makeup

Many business owners tend to put the needs of their business ahead of personal and family issues. They sacrifice lifestyle for success. Unfortunately, there can be very bad business and personal consequences to constantly feeling overworked and stressed.

Assess Your Business

Second, you need to understand where your company lies on its life cycle. Assuming you are not in the startup or very early stage of your company, these business life-cycle stages can be defined as growth, maturity, regeneration and ownership transition. Each stage has unique challenges around:

  • Profit/value strategy
  • Reaction to the business environment
  • Resource allocation
  • Capital requirements
  • Human resource requirements
  • Product/service development
  • Systems

You may need outside help to properly assess your company. Frankly, it is very easy to be somewhat myopic when you do it yourself. Try to be very objective about creating a “report card” for your business. 

Study the Options

The third step entails using this newly developed understanding of your personal wants and needs, along with those of your business, to develop options to get these in sync.

Few business owners take enough time to properly delineate and understand their options, along with the possible ramifications. You may need to address the following areas:

  • Formalized strategic planning
  • Corporate structure
  • Tax and legal issues
  • Family management and intergenerational problems
  • Operational improvement
  • Sales and marketing enhancement
  • Profit growth
  • Acquisition/divestiture potential
  • Capital and debt restructure
  • Turnaround situations

Take Action

The fourth and final step is to determine which strategy is best for you and then make it happen. Unfortunately, inertia can rear its ugly head at this point and stop proper execution. Many times, significant changes need to be made in the company to reach your personal objectives. And as everyone knows, change is difficult.

The following are examples of some things that may need to happen to make sure your company is actually helping you reach your personal goals:

  • Ownership restructure
  • Develop and properly run an advisory board for assistance and accountability
  • Assemble appropriate management team
  • Work to educate and improve workforce capabilities
  • Obtain interim C-level management assistance or consulting if needed
  • Implement and use good financial planning and systems
  • Acquire and/or restructure your company’s capital/debt
  • Develop and execute operational and revenue improvement programs
  • If appropriate, acquire good acquisition and divestiture service assistance
  • Properly plan for and execute intergenerational transfers

It’s possible to take back charge of your life from your business. It is very understandable that, during your business’s early stages, it may more or less rule you until profitability. After a certain period of time, however, assuming some level of success, owners need to step back and make sure that their personal lives aren’t suffering.

Using the four-step process above can greatly enhance owners’ lives.


by Dave Raden