This subject has very much been on my mind lately as we gear up for our launch at Circa. I’d love to dive in further on the topic sometime, but right now I’d just like to just kick off a few thoughts on work/life balance.
I recently read something that said that the “best” folks in the industry are the ones without a work/life balance…
…Take evenings off, take weekends, holidays off – it’s vital recharge time. The work will still be there when you get back but if all you do is your work, you might not have a life to go back to if it doesn’t work out.
This is a topic I’ve been thinking about as well. In my experience building a company, it’s unfortunately not as simple as Matt puts in his post. Starting a company takes lot of extra work. Like way more than a normal job. Sometimes you need to stay up all night long to prep for a meeting, fix a major bug, or finally finish a set of features you’ve been working on. Sometimes you need to work 16 hour days for a month straight to catch up to your self-imposed deadline. I wish I could just decide to take off evenings and weekends, but it would actually be irresponsible for me to do so given the promises I’ve made to my users, my investors, and my team. That’s startup life. If you’ve found a way around all that, please drop me a note. I’ll buy you a beer next time we’re out.
Starting a company is the very act of creating something from nothing. You’re figuratively giving birth to something that didn’t exist before you created it. Giving birth is a process that entails intense pain and suffering. (My daughter Vivian turns 1 next month.) But when you’re done with all of the pain, you’re looking at something magical that you’ve created through your own hard work (and typically several others’). As a Father (and a business owner), I can tell you that it’s worth it. The hard work and pain are absolutely worth it.
I think the advise to take off evenings and weekends focuses too much on the execution rather than the strategy. I think the bigger piece of advice here is this: Your idea and company are probably going to fail. Don’t ruin your life, relationships, and health in the process because you’ll probably need all three when that happens. It’s up to the entrepreneur in all of us to discern when it’s time to hustle and when it’s time to pull over, recharge the batteries and take in the scenery. Entrepreneurship is a process.
That said, I’ve found that taking care of yourself is a major part of being a quality founder and team leader. The long hours, missed sleep, design debates, investor relations, and customer support issues can add up quick. It’s super important to keep your head in a good place so that you can lead your team with the right attitude and a clear vision. Spending time with family, friends, or even by myself refuels my mental resources and makes me a better CEO.
Building a long-lasting, strong company that makes a difference in people’s life is one of the things I want to do while I’m on this earth. So I’m willing to put in a lot of effort to pursue that life goal. I don’t have the work-life balance thing perfected, but I think the best founders don’t see a clear distinction between the two.