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Do you have a good work-life balance?

That’s the question I asked the audience at the BOP Entrepreneur Social this month. And you probably won’t be surprised to learn that hardly anyone raised their hand.

I was giving a presentation about my journey as a business owner and my struggle with work-life balance.  By the lack of hands raised at the question it seemed I'd chosen a hot topic.

That’s why, today, I’ve summarised the key points from my presentation. (Or, if you prefer, you can watch the video of my talk)

If you’re struggling with work-life balance you might relate and find a couple of handy tips at the end.

 

In the beginning…

My father and I started FIK Laser almost 8 years ago. We identified a gap in the market and set about building our business as a laser cutting specialist — providing accurate and precise cutting with quick turnaround.

It was epic. We were totally focused on growing the business. And to be honest, it didn’t worry me that I was spending so much time at work. It was exciting, dynamic, and fulfilling.

But over time, the hours crept up on me and the pressure grew. Pretty soon I had no time for virtually anything but work. Things that had been important to me —  family, friends, biking and the outdoors got less and less of my attention. I felt the constant pull of work. It became all-consuming.

 

Reality bites.

One day Clyde, my father, called in sick.  Long story short, he went on to have a couple of massive heart attacks, narrowly cheating death. Now that starts to put things into perspective. He was my partner in crime, we made all our business decisions together. Not only that, his illness meant we were one man down in a small tight team.

Don’t worry, he made a full recovery. But at the time it was too much to handle. My father and my business partner almost dying. One day I was at work and I simply broke down. I walked off the job and down the road.

 

The turning point.

That was the turning point. I realised something had to change. I needed some work-life balance. So with the help of my wife, Paulina, that’s what I set about doing.

 

Here’s what I learned:

While Clyde was ill and I was trying to cut back my hours and get my life back, things didn’t collapse. Quite the opposite. The team picked things up and ran the place without us. Sure, not everything was perfect but it was pretty darn good. I learned that when you have

good staff, they’ll step up when you need them to. And as the boss, you need to give them the freedom (and expectation) to do that. You need to make sure everyone is working to their full potential. You can’t be responsible for everything.

 

Here’s my advice:

Based on what I did to get my work-life balance back, these are my top five tips.

 

#1. Set goals - big ones

Striving for a work-life balance doesn’t mean slacking off. It means being laser focused. What are the important things you want to achieve for your business? Set your business goals and make them audacious. Your thinking is different when you think big. Refer back to them all the time

 

#2. Start journaling

A daily ritual starts with writing down what I need to do today to work towards the goals we’ve set. Priorities become pretty clear. And delegation is essential!

 

#3. Create a solutions culture

Now the team come to me with solutions not problems. They’re taking responsibility for stuff that previously they would have deferred to me. The key here is good two-way communication.

 

#4. Be healthy

Diet, exercise, sleep. It’s all important to ensuring when you’re at work you’re ‘ON’. For me, mountain biking is beneficial because when I’m biking it’s physical and mental. I can’t think about work when I’m hurtling down a steep track, so it’s a real release.

 

#5. Surround yourself with good people

This applies to your team, but also networks and mentors. Groups such as BOP Entrepreneur Social are fantastic at getting you to think differently and do things you didn’t know you could (like public speaking in my case).

 

Don’t wait until you reach crisis point like I did. Take some action now and start getting some work-life balance back.

And I’m always keen for a bike ride. Just give me a call!