I Love my home life (family, friends and adventure). I also love my startup. Like my children it embodies the future! With all this love to spread around, there’s not enough time for everything. I’m not alone in this startup vs home life situation. One of my good startup friends is in the extremely intense phase of finishing his app, Annot8, before launch. He’s working all hours!! His kids now think his office is ‘Daddy’s house’. From all I’ve read startup, home life, and physical/mental well-being needs to be carefully balanced to help make a successful startup.
The trouble starts, as it inevitably does, when a startups becomes an obsession. Driven from a desire to succeed and too much to do, a startup can take over your entire mind. Until you think and talk of little else. You become so connected to your startup your emotions are driven by the highs and lows of the company. Obsession is not all bad. It pushes and creates. However there is a personal price to pay:
- Family life suffers – My blogger friend Giff recently talked about entrepreneurship and parenthood saying ‘young kids take a huge amount of time, require flexibility, and put a lot of constraints on a founders schedule’. His excellent point is that the only answer is ‘compromise’. Like most things in life its a balancing act. You have make time for both life’s. In Steve Blanks great post, ‘Lies Entrepreneurs Tell Themselves’ he very honestly talks about the need to be realistic why you’re starting-up. It’s often for selfish reasons and not thinking of others!
- Your body suffers – In Mark Suster’s ’The Yo-Yo life of tech entrepreneurs’ post Mark talks about how your body suffers with weight gain. You more often eat unhealthy food and may consume more alcohol. You have less time for exercise. This isn’t good. We all know exercise is great for stress relief. I’ve certainly found it challenging to keep training whilst growing our startup. Be strict and make time for your body.
- And you Mind suffers too - It seems to achieve great things one needs to leave the norm behind. ‘There is a fine line between entrepreneurship & insanity’ - Anita Roddick. To be great you have to concentrate on one thing. You can see this in any great sports person. However total concentration without any relief builds-up both physical and mental exhaustion. You ‘burn out’! The uncertainly of startups can also cause you to constantly worry. Here’s a interesting post on what a founders wife sees in her husbands start-up. Take a break from your startup and recharge your mental batteries.
When you become obsessed by your startup everything else suffers: your body, your personal relationships and ultimately your startup! The startup journey is a marathon. As founders we cannot do it on our own. We need a support mechanism. We must have help from family, friends and help ourselves. By isolating ourselves in our startup obsession we cut off the very support that can help us to succeed. Mike from crowdSPRING has some great tips on managing this difficult balancing act of life and startups.
I’ll leave you with one final thought from a great obsessive man: “If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut”. – Albert Einstein