Two Ways to Have A Good Work-Life Balance

Maintaining the right kind of work-life balance, especially when you run your own businesses (but not limited to this, of course), can be hard. Whether working from home or at an office, if you are trying to combine a good work ethic with the ability to spend time with friends and family and enjoy your hobbies, you might find that you are running out of time, or that even if you do get to do everything you want to, you feel guilty because you think you should be doing something else.

When the lines between work and your personal life are blurred, things can get even more difficult, and working from home certainly doesn't help with this, even if it does mean you are technically around more.

If you're having trouble maintaining a healthy work-life balance, then here are some useful tips that might help you get control of walking that fine line.

Stick to Your Work Hours

One of the biggest problems when it comes to trying to have a good work-life balance is when you don't stick to your specific working hours. This is a problem if you work in an office, but if you work at home, it can be even more problematic. There is always going to be the temptation to sneak back onto the computer to check emails or write one last report, even when you're meant to be relaxing or spending time with your kids.

You need to work out what your working hours are and then make sure you really do stick to them. Switch your phone off, don't look at your emails, and spend some time relaxing and enjoying your life – you might want to watch a movie, go out for food, try out painting, take on a new hobby, or play a musical instrument. You have blocked out time to do this, so make sure that's what you do. Extra work is only going to make you frustrated and tired and is not a good idea.

Prioritize Your Time

When you look at your to-do list, and it is full of fifty items that all seem just as important as the next, things can feel rather overwhelming. You might feel as though you're going to have to work long hours, or, if the tasks are to do with your home life, you might think you need to take some time off work to get through them.

Ideally, you will be able to prioritize those items, whether they are work-based or more personal, so that you can deal with the most important things first and then work your way down the list. There are four categories that everything you think you have to do should fall into. These are:

  • Urgent and important
  • Urgent but not important
  • Important but not urgent
  • Neither important nor urgent

Once you have categorized everything you need to, you will be able to determine exactly what order to do things in, and you should even be able to have a better work-life balance because of it.

3 Min Read

Five Essential Lessons to Keep in Mind When You're Starting Your Own Business

"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.

Find A Need And Fill It

I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.

I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.

Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.

Have Working Capital And Credit

There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.

I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.

Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.

My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.

Know Your Product Thoroughly

I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?

My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.

My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.

Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!

More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.

Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth

I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.

I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.

Delegate From The Bottom Up

I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.

In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.