Business Guide: Run Your Business. Don't Let Your Business Run You.
Chapter 16

Entrepreneur - Work Life Balance

Allan says...

“Life only gives us ups and downs. In business, parenting, or friendships. Things are hardly ever stable, consistent, or fair. Those few moments of pure bliss are where the good stuff is. The moments with my kids, when they’re experiencing something amazing, the small victories in business, date nights with my wife--those are the things I look forward to. Hold onto them, because soon, something unfair and unexpected will happen to you. Be thankful for everything all the time--even when life sucks. I continue to tell myself, ‘Nothing is ever as bad or as good as it seems.’”

Thousands of Small Decisions

Steve says...

We’re in Costa Rica with our families right now (well, not RIGHT now). We’re not rich--in fact, we make less than we should. We’re able to take this extended “workation” because of all the little things we’ve done in the past years. We’ve saved, hired smart people, and built apps that make money. This experience is the culmination of thousands of small decisions that were made over the past several years.”

Celebrate The Small Victories.

The high points in life need to be remembered and celebrated, Steve and Allan go out of their way to celebrate small victories. They’ll stop and make sure that each other realizes it when they’ve hit a milestone. They’ll buy nice things for each other, or one of them will tell the other to go to dinner that night on the company. You must take a second to realize and appreciate your accomplishments...and then...get back to work.

Real Moments

The small victories in business feel so good to the ego. They stroke your ego and cause you to think you’re smarter than you really are. Business victories are won so you can do the things you really want to do. Maybe you really just want to watch your kids interact, or perhaps you do it all just to be able to have conversations with people you love.

finding time for Work Life Balance

Allan says...

“You might try to sacrifice small things to accomplish big things at a future date. I left the hotel suite to write this passage at 6 A.M. while my kids and wife were asleep--keep in mind, we’re still in Costa Rica. They’ll never notice I’m gone. I didn’t need that extra hour of sleep. I’ll steal away a bit of time and invest that into the business. I might reap the benefits of writing this passage. If I’m lucky, we might get a few book purchases, spread our message and make a couple dollars.”

Balancing Life

There’s never a work/life balance. You can strive for it, but it’s unobtainable. Allan has two small children and a beautiful, kind, selfless wife. At times, they’ve received less of his attention than they deserve. Allan wants nothing more than to just be around them. Balancing life and work is a constant battle (especially when his Dad, Uncles, Aunts and Grandfather are all entrepreneurs). Every entrepreneur is going to battle this unfortunately impossible balance.

Realizing when the balance has tilted too far, in the direction of work, is tough when you’re the one in charge. Running your own business can wreak havoc on your social life and close relationships, causing stress levels to rise, so you’ll need a plan of action to keep your life in balance. When work doesn’t seem like work, it’s easy to turn the majority of moments into work time. Loving what you do for a living is a double-edged sword.

Steve says...

“There goes the double-edged sword again...”

Work Life Balance

Because most freelancers love what they do, it can often seem acceptable to work 80+ hours in a single week. While there are times when you may really need to kick out some work, overall, it’s not a positive thing to be that unbalanced. In the past months, LessEverything has added a few company rules so that everyone can enjoy the rewards of life/work balance.

Allan says...

“Here are some things we practice in order to keep our personal lives in balance with work. We hope these help you, too:

  • No one is productive for 80+ hours a week. With very few exceptions, we’ve never seen anyone who can work more than 80 hours; besides, something isn’t right if you spend that much time working. If you can’t make a living working less than 80 hours a week, you need to change careers, and if you can’t pay your bills working 30, quit whining.
  • Around 5:00 P.M., you must be looking for a place to pause your work. Many of us have small kids that need to go to bed early. If you must finish a task--do it once they’re in bed. During evening hours, family time is number one, and work is far down the list of priorities. We usually do three to five more work hours after the kids go to sleep.
  • Dinner time is important. This follows the first rule of stopping around 5:00 P.M. Take a few hours to interact and play with your kids. Talk to your wife, your family, your parents, something, but get away from the computer, and be social with the people who are most important to you.
  • Leave the house. It’s imperative that you get out of the house/office or place where you work. I have been trying my best to go and see beautiful places--parks, lakes--any place where I can take pictures. It’sanother form of creativity that lets me free my mind. Creativity isn’t something we can turn off, but we can be creative without staring at pixels. Try to do something that gets your heart pumping so you don’t die from a blood clot.
  • I’m not the slimmest person in the world and I often feel lazy, but nonetheless, I try to ride my bike around the neighborhood while pulling my son in his baby trailer. This is a time that I can have complete silence, clear my thoughts and break a little sweat.
  • Remember that work is your tool for making money--it’s not your life. Money is only a temporary justification for not being there for the people you love. Time is fleeting and memories are priceless. Choose life over work any chance you get.”

surround yourself with these people...

Negative people and negative relationships will kill your passion. You know what that means. There’s a certain type of person that is toxic. They can suck the air out of the room. Surround yourself with people that don’t put up with your excuses. It’s like in marriage; you marry someone because they make you want to be a better person.

Be unselfish.

Unselfish love is the only love to give. Your gains from selfish love will only be temporary.

A great host cares more about his guest’s entertainment and experience than his own. A great parent cares more about her child’s well-being than her own. Hire unselfish people. Be friends with unselfish people.

Allan says...

“In baseball, these people are called ‘gamers’, you’ve heard it before: ‘ he’s a real gamer.’ Seek out these people.”

Steve says...

“Has anyone seriously ever heard that?”

Spend time with real friends.

Don’t waste your time on friendships that are not deep and meaningful. Allan’s friend, Kirk Tuck, passed away from cancer five years ago. Everyday, Allan watched him shrink away from life. He saw their friends find excuses for why they couldn’t visit him in the hospital; why they were too busy and didn’t have time. A real friend will be there when times suck, when it’s not fun, and when it doesn’t benefit them.

Have you ever been called arrogant before?

It’s painful for someone to think this of you. Should you think highly of your opinions? Hell yes. Should you feel ballsy or brave enough to do things most people are scared to do? Hell yes. Should you feel you’re better than others? No way. The human race is flawed and in need of love and forgiveness everyday. The lesson, boys and girls, is: you will be misunderstood. Get ready for it.

Handling Stress

When running a business--especially a start-up, one of the greatest challenges is simply learning how to manage all of the stress so that pressure doesn’t end up ruining your life. The stresses involved in running a business are tremendous. In addition to all the stress every working person faces-- yes, stay-at-home moms definitely count--there are always additional stress generators to deal with.

Managing stress effectively is one of the most important skills any person can learn. Sometimes a person can get so stressed out that they don’t even realize it until a friend finally points it out to them.

One of Allan’s favorite quotes is from his friend, Matt Deiters, who said, “Nothing is ever as bad, or as good as it seems.” Telling yourself this might calm you down, or deflate your ego a bit. You should try it.

Here are some things you can do to relieve stress--Interaction with a loved one, a business partner perhaps, is very helpful:

When you see your kids do something really cute, take an extra moment to pause and reflect on the wonder of the moment. Your love for your child-- these moments in life--are the only things that really matter. Try to burn it into your memory.

There you have it, a tale of two chubby guys who’ve forged the road of entrepreneurship with many mistakes and successes along the way. Although some of what we’ve shared may have been scary, we hope telling our story has given you the tools you need to succeed and re-ignited your passion. Ultimately, just be yourself, create a team that fits your goals, plan ahead, seek happiness and don’t forget who your best friends are (Steve & Allan). Thanks for reading the book and good luck!

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