Achieving a better work-life balance is often cited as one of the main drivers behind a person’s decision to invest in the franchise business ownership model. Just what is meant by work-life balance though? Is it working seventy percent of the time while having thirty percent to do as you wish with family, leisure, travel, physical fitness, etc.? Or is it the flip of that formula, or a different balance altogether?
Additionally, work-life balance is more complicated than just calculating a mix of work versus “not work.” At any given moment you may be a combination of spouse, parent, manager, worker, team member, sports fan, civic leader or friend. And facets of life important to you may include artistic expression, positive attitude, career, education, family, friends, financial freedom, physical challenge, pleasure or public service.
I advise those considering entrepreneurship and the franchise business model to first think deeply about their work-life balance now and going forward. Listed below are some ways to help you do the same.
Keys to work-life balance
Determine what work-life balance looks like to you
Begin with the end in mind. You have to decide what you want your life to look like. Plan for and see the entire vision of your life, both personal and business. Do you want to spend more time with family or vacationing? Do you want to live in a certain geographic area or acquire a different dwelling? Perhaps business ownership and franchising will be part of your vision.
Make a plan for your success
Once you have a work life vision in mind then you need to develop a plan to turn the vision into reality! Where do you want to be and how do you plan to get there? Establish a plan for success by identifying actions steps and key milestones to meet in order to achieve your vision.
If you are considering business ownership, don’t focus solely on revenue. Will the business you own allow for the work-life balance that suits you and your family? You do need to set revenue goals and timelines, of course, or your business will flounder.
Line up some mentors
Mentors like to see people succeed. They genuinely care about others and freely “pay it forward.” Mentors can be found in many places. Perhaps a friend or business acquaintance is willing to help. SCORE (previously known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives), a volunteer resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, can offer counsel. For franchise advice and counsel, there are franchise coaches (like Franchise Strategy Partners) that can help you research and explore the entire franchise ownership process.
Understand that entrepreneurship is a process
Some describe entrepreneurship as a process of giving life to an idea. You may generate the idea or buy a business, and then see yourself running that business. You evaluate options and opportunities. You make decisions and open your doors. Of course, these steps are not independent and often occur concurrently. Most importantly, you learn and adapt as you engage the process.
Be a lifetime learner
We at Franchise Strategy Partners find that small business owners who are lifetime learners adapt to change more readily and are more successful. Acknowledge your weaknesses and have the discipline and commitment to get outside help and/or learn new skills as needed.
Understand that communication is multi-dimensional
As the business owner, you are the Chief Communicator. Understand that communication travels up, down and sideways. Stay in touch with your customers, employees, vendors, support team and other stakeholders. Allow for 2-way conversations and schedule meetings as beneficial. Let everyone know how the business is doing through monthly, quarterly and/or annual performance reports.
As a business owner, your family will probably be highly intertwined with the business. Effective communication and respect for each family member is similarly important. Schedule meetings to talk about the business, your marriage and your family – as appropriate. Create an agenda and keep your family meetings separate from your family time, such as a family dinner.
Set time aside for exercise and leisure
Exercise is a proven method for handling stress. Be sure to set aside time to look after your own physical and mental health. Take 30-minute walks, use an electronic exercise calculator, swim, join and use a gym – find ways to make it painless, if not fun, to get in some exercise. Leisure, whether it’s staying in vacation destination or taking on an active travel agenda, can be a welcome way to escape the pressures of work and find true relaxation. Sharpen your saw and return to your business and life with renewed focus and enthusiasm.
If you are thinking about becoming a business owner, do take the time to proactively define your work-life vision. It’s a good practice to periodically review the balance you have between your work and your personal lives. Take time to ponder the big questions, involve your family and make a plan. It doesn’t have to be a perfect vision or a perfect plan. Perhaps business ownership will give you the lifestyle that fits you and your family. I’m convinced that by going through the process you will better manage and achieve your work-life balance, whether or not your plans include business ownership.
“For many people, work-life balance is about successfully integrating the various parts of their lives, rather than absolutely balancing them.”
Larry M Reed, President of Franchise Strategy Partners