Starting a business requires hard work, resilience and dedication. Anyone who has ever started their own business, or attempted to do so, will know this! Not only is this required to get your venture off the ground, but also to maintain your sanity, get the right balance and hold on to the happiness you felt when coming up with the idea in the first place.
As you make your way through the PILES AND PILES of business books available to you, you will notice that majority of them are concerned with economics, profit generation and business management when exploring entrepreneurial activity, and not sustainability, happiness and balance. While understanding those topics is important, making sure you are building your business on a more solid and meaningful foundation than pure profit generation is crucial for the sustainability of not only your venture but also your personal life, and your health and wellbeing.
And even when you are passionate about your business, and you do try to maintain some sort of balance, it’s still just hard!
The reason I believe that you need to focus on foundations other than financial gain, is that many psychologists and economists have found that the correlation between happiness and money (or other material gains) at best is weak. Once financial rewards reach a certain level (and this a quite modest one in fact), increasing it does not bring people a higher level of satisfaction or happiness.
People have to earn a living. Of cause! And as an entrepreneur, ensuring that your business is profitable is, of cause, crucial, as much for you own survival as the business. But researchers have proven that, people only really focus on external rewards, such as income, if their lifestyle is under threat and they can’t cover basic outgoings as this will cause stress and anxiety. Once your baseline is covered, your focus shifts and you need more to feel happy and satisfied. Upping your extrinsic or material awards, will therefore not cause happiness in the long run, but only give you a short glimpse.
Feeling like you work has meaning, spending time with friends and loved ones, and ensuring you take time to relax and step away from your job, is what truly makes a difference in the long run!
It’s easier to preach than to practice...
I quit my fulltime job last year, thinking that if I don’t make a move and attempt this now, it will never happen. So off I went with my resignation in hand, and I have to say, it did feel great to finally, actively take a step towards what I have been wanting to do for so long!
But... Living in London, I don’t know anyone who can just do nothing... Or do a lot, but with no pay! So... for a while now, it has been a maze of balancing part time work with different employers while also working on my own business, taking steps to grow and become financial viable, in the hopes that someday (soon, I hope) it will be able to support me entirely...
Launching my business has tested and continues to test my believes in balance, rest, productivity and happiness.
I KNOW that my work is average at best, when I work past 8 hours in a row. I KNOW that my productivity and effectiveness will increase if I take breaks and get proper night’s sleep. I KNOW that assigning time to ‘be off’ is crucial for balance and happiness and that the motivation you get from spending time with family and friends can’t be beaten by anything. I KNOW this for sure, as I spent months and months researching this very topic for my own thesis. But it’s one thing to preach and another to practice!
I try very hard to follow my own guidelines, but I still slip... But every time I do, I do try to get back on the horse straight away.
I want to have my own business, I love working and feeling like every hour is worth it, as it all comes back to me and my idea. But I also want my business to allow me to have the life I want. I want to be able to travel, to see my friends, to visit family. So I want the balance as bad as the business, and I will continue to work hard to gain it (she says, writing her blog post at 9pm, after working since 6.30am and knowing she won’t finish work will 11.30pm tonight! But hey! Tomorrow is a new day! ;-))