How is the work life balance in your small business? Do you own your small business or does your small business own you?

Here are 5 questions to help you judge whether you’re getting the balance right.

Question 1: Are you still in control?

Not being able to influence what happens to you is stressful but sometimes it’s just because you have handed over control.

  • Take responsibility and take control back.
  • Don’t firefight, manage your workload by planning ahead.
  • Use calendars, to-do lists and other work management tools so that you don’t have to take work home in your head.
  • Practice saying ‘no’.
  • Put healthy boundaries in place for; time, places, relationships, money etc.

Question 2: Can you tell the difference between urgent and important tasks?

Often it’s the things that we believe are urgent that lead to compromise in our work life balance – irrespective of whether they are important or not.

  • Prioritise tasks on importance.
  • Don’t touch urgent tasks unless they are important.
  • Assess the consequences of not doing any ‘urgent’ task.
  • Check that any deadline is really what you have been told it is.

Question 3: How well do you know yourself?

Become an expert on you. Emotional intelligence is being increasingly recognised as being vital to a healthy and sustainable working life by many large employers. Looking after you is looking after your business.

  • Practice being more  self-aware.
  • Recognise when your emotions rather than your head are driving your actions.
  • Identify what pushes your emotional buttons so you can preempt it and react appropriately.
  • Identify the things you do that indicate your stress level.
  • Learn how to release any pressure in healthy ways.

Question 4: How are your relationships?

Whether you consider yourself a people person or not, the biggest part of your life is going to be about relationships.

  • Identify who energisers you and who drains you when you’re around them.
  • Who do you laugh with and who do you try to avoid?
  • Check that you are communicating clearly and regularly with the important people in your life.
  • Don’t just make decisions that impact others – explain why you are making them.
  • Find a ‘wing man’ to watch your back. We all have blindspots and your relationships can protect you from them.

Question 5: Is your definition of value correct?

Money is important but, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t actually make the world go round.

  • Know your personal values and stick with them. If your actions are opposite to your values you are compromised and you will end up dealing with guilt.
  • In his book ‘What got you here won’t get you there’, Marshall Goldsmith suggests imagining that you are ninety-five, on your death bed and about to take your last breath when you are given the ability to travel back in time to help your younger self live a better life. What advice would you give yourself for;  a) your personal life and, b) your professional life?
  • The advice you would give yourself reveals your real values.


Running a small business and having a life can appear at times to be incompatible however looking after you is looking after your business. By finding that ideal balancing point you can give your life and your business the best opportunity to thrive. So, set your business free!

© Business Set Free Ltd 2013


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