balancing work and family as an entrepreneur

Building a successful business is hard.

And it’s a lot harder when you have to balance the demands of entrepreneurship with the demands of a growing family.

But…it’s not impossible.

In fact, with the right strategies and systems, your family can become one of the greatest drivers of success in your business…

…Helping you unlock new levels of productivity and creativity and stopping you from falling prey to the dreaded bottle of ‘workahol’.

And in this week’s essay, I’m going to teach you step-by-step how to balance work and family as a full-time entrepreneur so you can earn more, work less, and build the life you (and your family) have always wanted.

Let’s dive in.

1. Clarify Your Non-Negotiables (and Get Accountable for Them)

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The greatest “secret” I’ve ever discovered for balancing work and family, doubling your productivity and driving huge results in every area of your life is to leverage the power of “non-negotiables” or personal rules.

Non-negotiables are, as the name implies, habits and routines in your personal life, work-life, and family life that you are committed to no matter what.

And when you get them right, they will create a virtuous cycle of success that improves every area of your life.

For example, if you set the non-negotiable that “I do not work past 6 pm”, not only will this open up time in your evening to spend with your family, but it will force you to ruthlessly automate, delegate, and eliminate distractions, temptations, and $10/hour tasks from your life.

If you spend your entire day watching NBA fails on YouTube or getting lost in unnecessary administrative work (you could pay someone else to do), you won’t be able to meet your committment…and as a result, you’re forced to be more productive and efficient during the workday.

The first step you must take to effectively balance work and family life is to get clear on the minimum standards you’ll hold yourself to…the base level non-negotiables that will guarantee progress and balance.

Specifically, you must set non-negotiables for your:

  • Personal Life: Things like exercising for 30-minutes a day, sleeping 7 hours a night, having a solid morning routine, planning out your days and weeks, taking “Thinking Time” each week.
  • Professional Life: Things like 90-minutes of daily deep work, eliminating distractions at the office, delegating administrative tasks, and hosting regular team meetings.
  • Family Life: Things like weekly date night with your spouse, reading to your kids before bed, going on weekly family outings, and prioritizing vacations.

Once you’re clear on your non-negotiables, communicate them with your family so they can hold you accountable.

When you’re on the same page, you all know what to expect every day. Your family will respect your Magic Time and make sure you have the space you need to focus on your legacy work. You’ll avoid distractions and temptations so you can make it home on time…your entire life will run smoother.

And to really make your non-negotiables stick, I encourage you to find a coach or mentor to hold you accountable for your commitments.

When you have daily accountability from someone you deeply don’t want to disappoint, success will become automatic.

2. Practice Radical Presence 

My friend Sharran Srivatsaa, one of the single most productive human beings I know, developed a “bad” habit of taking work calls on his way home from the office.

He’d pull into the driveway, still on the phone and, the second he opened the garage door, his kids would run out to greet him.

But…

Because he was finishing his calls, he’d hold up a finger to say “one second” while he finished up his conversation…and 90% of the time, “one second” turned into 15-minutes and his kids would get bored and go back inside.

This pattern repeated itself until one day, he pulled into the driveway, opened up the garage door…and no one came out to greet him.

As painful as it was, this experience helped him realize that he hadn’t been present with his family and led to him creating new rituals that would allow him to show up as the man he needed to be.

Now, whenever he comes home from work, he pulls into a cul-d-sac in his neighborhood, finishes his calls, and completes a short meditation to release the stress of the workday and get fully present before going inside

And this simple habit has made a world of difference.

I know it’s tempting to be there for every call, beep, or buzz you get, but when you’re with family, you must be fully WITH them.

No distractions, notifications, emails, or phone calls.

As the old saying goes, “Work when you work, and rest when you rest.”

You’re not doing yourself or anyone else a favor by allowing your work to run your life 24/7. And to effectively balance work and family, you must create hard boundaries and bumpers to keep you fully present for each part of your life.

Silence your phone. Leave your laptop at the office. Turn off your notifications. Don’t check your email.

Unless you’re a heart surgeon, people can probably do without you for a few hours.

Wherever you are, be there. If you’re distracted while you’re with your family, you’ll end up spending work time burdened with guilt, which will cause you to come home and be distracted with your family…and the vicious cycle will continue.

Radical presence is the key to balance.

3. Create a Consistent Cadence of Connection 

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No matter how hectic your workday or your week, to balance your work and family life you must commit to consistent connection rituals that allow you to spend quality time with the people who matter most.

First and foremost, you must have a consistent weekly date night with your spouse. Ideally two or more (admittedly, this will depend on the age and needs of your children).

Commit to this the same way you would a meeting with an important client and treat these date nights like your marriage depends on them (because it might).

Next, I encourage you to commit to specific activities with each of your children on a weekly basis.

For example, you might take your son to soccer practice every Tuesday before going out for ice cream and then take your daughter to her horseback riding classes on Thursdays before going out to dinner.

Try a family movie night where you’re all watching without any distractions. Make a pizza together on Friday nights. Whatever you do, make it fun. Make it relaxing. And most importantly, make it consistent.

A successful family requires a consistent cadence of connection. Remember… your role as a family man or woman goes beyond being a walking ATM. Your family wants to connect and spend time with you, not just use your credit card.

Creating these rituals with your family will create an emotional ‘fail-safe’ for those inevitable periods of time where your life becomes radically imbalanced because of an important project. If your family knows they can rely on certain blocks of time with you, they’ll feel less frustrated when you’re busy.

4. Create Bumpers and Boundaries to Stay Out of the Gutter

To make the most out of your work and personal time, you’ve got to create ruthless bumpers and boundaries to keep you on the right path and keep you in control of your days…

And the fastest way to get more control over your schedule and max out every working hour?

Say “No” and mean it.

Too many entrepreneurs are ‘struckling’ in their family lives…on the brink of divorce, having a nonexistent relationship with their kids, feeling isolated from the people they should be the most connected with…because they say “yes” to every opportunity.

They worry that if they say “no” to anything it might close them off from an opportunity to hit one of their big goals.

But the truth is the ONLY way to achieve your big goals, build an empire, and show up as the person your family needs you to be is to say “no” to everything that doesn’t serve your big vision.

Say no to non-urgent communication during work hours (especially if you work from home).

Say no to high-maintenance clients who eat up your time and energy.

Say no to small podcast interviews, lunches, and meetings that don’t drive profits.

Say no to anything and everything that is not aligned with your big vision.

Sure, you might upset people, but if you want to work less, accomplish more, and make time for what’s most important in your life, you have to be ruthless about eliminating obstacles and distractions. 

The key to success is not to do more things, but to focus on the few things that matter.

5. Implement Perfect Week Planning 

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Most entrepreneurs plan their weeks backward.

They start by writing down all of the meetings, interviews, sales calls, and important work tasks that need to be completed.

And only then do they try to pencil in personal and family time.

Instead, I want you to try something different.

I want you to use my “perfect week planning formula” to help you focus on the most important things each week.

Here’s how it works…

First, schedule in those non-negotiable commitments with your family and yourself that we talked about before. Schedule in date night, family movie night, yoga, your daughter’s swim meet, your gym time. Get those all out on your calendar before you even THINK about work.

Next, schedule your bedtime and your wake time. I know it might sound a little juvenile, but I promise this will significantly contribute to your productivity. Take this time also to plan when you’ll do a brain dump and weekly planning.

Then make a slot for your deep work or what I refer to as Magic Time. This is when you’ll do the work that requires the most discipline, willpower, and intention. Choose the time of day when you’re most productive when your mind runs at a quicker pace than any other time of day. 

For me, I do my deep work at 4 a.m. My friend Bedros schedules it in between 6:00-9:00 a.m. each day. 

Now, and only now, can you schedule everything else. Appointments. Sales calls. Meetings. Because you plan these things last, your non-negotiable commitments will take priority. You’ll have to cut out more of the busywork to make time for the more important stuff. 

To dive deeper into this topic, be sure to check out my article featured on Thrive Global where I dive deep into the perfect week planning formula.

6. Commit to Radical and Consistent Communication

I’m going to tell you something you already know but probably don’t think about…

You are insanely weird!

And so am I.

Entrepreneurs and high-performers are just wired differently from the rest of society. We’re all our own special kind of crazy and we all have our own unique idiosyncrasies and rituals.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

BUT… when it comes to balancing work and family, it’s easy to assume that your spouse and kids just “get it”.

…That they understand what you do, how you do it, and why you’re doing it.

But 90% of the time, they don’t.

They don’t understand why you fly across the country every other month to attend mastermind meetings or seminars.

They don’t understand why you can’t be distracted when you’re working in the morning.

They don’t understand how you operate.

And this means that you need to double down on your communication to make sure that everyone knows exactly what’s going on and why.

Here’s the thing…Even with all your careful planning and your best efforts to make consistent connections happen, you’ll drop the ball sometimes. 

It happens to the best of us.

But when this happens, you must communicate and get raw feedback so you can course-correct as needed. Ask your wife is she’s feeling neglected or left out. Talk to the kids about how busy you are and ask what you can do to help them feel more connected with you.

But if they give you feedback and there’s nothing you can do about it right now because of the obligations on your plate, don’t jump into the black hole of empty promises.

Saying something like, “I’ve got a lot going on this week, but I’ll make it up to you,” isn’t going to mean much when they’re feeling disappointed with their lack of time with you. 

Be specific. Let your family know what you’re dealing with, how long, and how you’ll make it up to them. Say something like, “I’m in the middle of a launch with two of my clients, for the next ten days. I’ll be coming home closer to 7 instead of 6, but once it’s over, we can take a long weekend and go to the mountains.” 

The more you communicate and the more your family understands what’s really going on in your world, the better you’ll be able to course correct and the more effectively you’ll all be able to get your needs met.

7. Guard Your Most Valuable Asset

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Listen…as much as you need to protect your family and your business, you won’t be able to balance it all if you’re not taking care of yourself. 

If you’re trying to balance everything else in your life at the expense of your own freedom, happiness, and health, you’re setting yourself (and your family, and employees, and clients) up for disaster.

My friend Bedros figured out the cost of neglecting self-care when he landed in the hospital with a heavy-hitting anxiety attack. He was taking care of his business and his family but pushed his own needs on the backburner. It wasn’t worth it.

Make self-care a priority. Sleep as much as you need. Eat well. Prioritize your alone time. Exercise daily. Schedule time to connect with hobbies you love. Say no to things that aren’t serving you or contributing to your big vision.

If YOU aren’t performing at the highest levels and giving yourself everything you need to succeed, none of these other tactics will matter.

Listen…when you take time to keep yourself recharged, everything else will run more smoothly. You’ll be more equipped to handle the difficulties of business and give everyone in your life more of what they need. 

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Want ALL of My Best Strategies to Build Your Perfect Weeks, Double Your Productivity, and Balance Your Work and Life?

Then click here to grab a copy of my new book The Perfect Week Formula.

I’ll teach you everything I’ve learned after 20-years of entrepreneurship and coaching hundreds of clients through the challenges of balancing work and family life…

…And give you a step-by-step blueprint to work less, earn more, and build your perfect life.

Craig Ballantyne

If you want to double your income, work less, and become the ambitious millionaire you've always wanted to be... Craig Ballantyne is the coach who will help you do it. With more than 20-years of experience as an entrepreneur and five 7-figure businesses under his belt, he specializes in helping "struckling" entrepreneurs get out of the mud and build the business of their dreams. To see if you qualify for Craig's "Millionaire Coaching Program" send an email to support@earlytorise.com with the subject line "Millionaire".