Entreprenuership vs. Work Life Balance

“I’ll never know if the sacrifices of losing my first marriage was worth it.” — Daymond John

Listening to Daymond John made me think about two things:

1) That many successful entrepreneurs make extreme sacrifices to build their businesses and

2) Is it possible to maintain work-life balance when building a national or global brand?

Entrepreneurship and work-life balance have been key buzzwords in the business community. Many individuals have the goal of simply becoming a successful entrepreneur while others have goals of obtaining financial freedom and achieving a work-life balance. However, are such goals attainable for individuals or do they come at a cost?

Daymond John talks about famous celebrities like Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade, who had lost their lives at the cost of success, and how successful entrepreneurs should also be concerned with their well being and mental health. While entrepreneurship appears glamorous from the outside, many entrepreneurs are often workaholics, focusing more on their businesses than their own lives. Having suffered from cancer, Daymond states, “I’d be a workaholic whether I was working at Red Lobster or in sanitation.”

Workaholics are quite common in society. They are fiercely driven to accomplish their goals, whether it includes starting and maintaining a successful business, taking care of their family, paying off massive school loans, or any other financial goal they may have. They maybe commonly disguised as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, etc. My belief is that successful entrepreneurs have been fueled with a growth mindset and, therefore, are willing to put themselves through anything to achieve their desired results. Similar to how athletes compete in the sports world, entrepreneurs are equally competitive in the business world. On both sides, the mind and body are pushed to their limits, often having long term implications.

As aforementioned, there are entrepreneurs whose goals to attain financial success include to continuously provide monetary support to their family, friends, and to be able to live a life full of flexibility. Many have also shared their pains of being successful. I’ve attended many conferences and have heard of various successful entrepreneurs sharing humorous stories about the amount of money they are paying to their exes, and therefore continue to stay invested in their business, with the most recent public example being Jeff Bezos with Amazon.

So the question remains— can an entrepreneur successfully achieve work-life balance? Is it even possible and at what cost? Personally, I’ve been fortunate enough to build two successful businesses in my life, after having failed a few times throughout my journey as an entrepreneur. The businesses that I’ve been successful at had me committed 100%. For the ones I’ve failed at, I had taken a passive investment approach. Lately, I’ve found myself watching shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank, where I’ll sit on the couch with my phone and iPad and search each company that showcased their product or service on TV. I was amazed to find out that more than half of the companies I searched had gone out of business within five years. My assumption is, these were businesses only looking for work-life balance, or rather, letting other people do the work while they enjoyed the prestige associated with being an entrepreneur. This type of business approach does not work for everyone and often the ego destroys the chance of business survival.

Although I’m not an expert in this area, I can say that based on my knowledge and experience as an entrepreneur, if you want to become an entrepreneur you have to go all in. 100%. Almost to the point that you become a workaholic. There’s no such thing as work-life balance in the beginning. This comes with time, as you are able to create enough wealth in the business to hire proper managers and have invested a sufficient amount of time and effort in training the right people. Going into business for yourself requires some sacrifices and if you’re looking to create that work-life balance, you’re going to have to take some risks to eventually achieve it. If work-life balance is a struggle that you are currently facing, or you are trying to pursue this while running a business, I would love to hear feedback on your experiences.