Dear Aunty B,
I have had my IT business for over 13 years now, and work/life balance always seems to be a problem.
To counter this I hired more staff; however the extra business brought in with the staff meant that I had more backend work.
I started to delegate. I also brought on a business coach (or life coach) to assist as well. My wife was so excited, as we planned for a third child and aimed for a better lifestyle.
Customers still wanted me when they were not 100% happy with my staff. I still need to take control of payables and HR as well as general management. I am not expecting the business to run itself, but after hiring more people to do the work, it seems I am getting less time to myself and family.
I had to make a very hard decision prior Christmas. Do I shrink the company from seven staff down and just focus on a handful of contract clients, or do I grow it, with the anticipation of being able to let someone else be general manager and I become the CEO (mind you we currently only have nine staff and role-share).
I decided to grow. I’m now looking for a new premises and hiring at least another three people. I do just hope my decision was correct for my family’s and marriage’s sake (only last night my wife said to me at 1am “when will you stop working after hours!”).
In the midst of all of this, I ensure my staff do NOT work after hours and ensure they have a great lifestyle (to the best I can). I ensure they take their holidays and relax. If they want one day off at a time, I allow it. However when I take a day off, I am on call, and generally still working remotely.
The business is profitable (could be better) however I am sacrificing larger profits to have a life! It is easier said than done and my brother-in-law has paid the price with his family because of running his own business.
I just wish employees would see that the employers, especially in small business, UNDERSTAND the commitment we give to provide employment to them
Wetherill Park NSW
You are going to kill yourself!
Let me paraphrase: Your staff do not work after hours and so they have a great lifestyle.
You are forgoing larger profits (which prevents you hiring more people to assist you) in order to keep your marriage and have a life.
Do you see the problem?
Many small companies start with a great family feel. But as they grow, they need to create a culture where the cream rises to the top. The fact is some staff want to get to the top quicker than everyone else.
To do this they work longer hours, take on more responsibility and accountability. The buck then stops with them – and they report to you.
It seems to me that you are missing a step – wanting to leap straight from the start up structure and culture to a general manager.
I am sure some of your key staff right now could step up into more senior roles.
And if you do not have staff like this, then I suggest you look at getting them. You are at the stage where you need a culture where your key staff are hungry for success (for themselves and the company) – not hungry for a great lifestyle.
Mark, your key focus at present should be you. While you are focused on giving everyone a great life, you will burn out.
You can’t change your family life, but you can change your business.
Good luck! Aunty B.