Balancing work-life responsibilities as an entrepreneur

Growing a business has often been equated to raising a child – a 24/7 role involving countless sleepless nights and never-ending concerns about the business’ future success. While a work-life balance is always strived for by entrepreneurs, the increasing consumer, economic and societal pressures means finding this desired balance is becoming even more difficult to achieve.

Increasingly people are working harder and longer, especially small business owners, to keep up with demands and to make ends meet – both at home and in the workplace. But while entrepreneurs may believe that more work hours, equals greater success, this isn’t always the case, and rather than this having a positive outcome and generating increased input from the extra work hours, this could have the opposite intended effect.

It is therefore not surprising that with these increased pressures and a skewed focus towards work that stress levels are on the rise. While high-stress levels are not uncommon and often unavoidable component of an entrepreneur’s day, week and month, elevated levels of stress due to increased pressures and a skewed focus towards work can lead to long-lasting negative effects, on both the entrepreneur, their family, business and broader network.

During Mental Illness Awareness Month last month, it was widely reported that increased and unmanaged levels of stress is a leading contributor to a number of mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. Furthermore – highlighting the consequences of an unbalanced work-life relationship – recent figures by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) reported that 74% of South African workers reported reduced concentration and a loss of productivity due to depression.

Business owners, therefore, need to be cognisant of the role that a healthy work-life balance can play in promoting good personal and business health.

How do our 2017 finalists and winners manage the daily struggle of balance?

Willem van der Merwe, owner of Africa Biomass Company (ABC) and 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year®:

“One of greatest challenges in running your own business is balancing the various aspects of your life, but I found that by involving my family in my business from early on helped them understand the demands and pressures placed upon me as my own boss. My family is my number one priority and having their full understanding and support is vital. No family support equals no business in my mind.

“Deciding whether family or business success is any more important than the other, and making a firm decision in this regard will you help you manage your environment accordingly and enable you to achieve your desired outcome and ultimately, your desired balance.”

Joe Hamman, owner and founder of Novus Group (Pty) Ltd and 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist.

“I don’t believe that I have perfected the balance yet myself, but I do commit to a routine of leaving the office at 6pm daily and not doing any work once I get home so that I can be 100% present with my family in the evenings. I do however wake up at 2am to catch up on any work while my family is sleeping.”

Siphiwe Ngcobo, founder of iLawu Hospitality Group and 2017 Job Creator of the Year®.

“To minimise work pressures, entrepreneurs – especially those in the start-up phase – should look to create trackable systems to monitor and track the business’ operations. When I started my business, managing a work-life balance was incredibly difficult, and it had a negative effect on my personal relationships. I’ve since learnt the benefit of implementing effective systems throughout my business which has meant that I don’t have to be physically present for each process. As a result, I now also have a team of qualified and capable staff who are able to take tasks off my hands.”