Startups wear their hard work and struggle on their sleeves, and why shouldn’t they? They are cool and fun, and matters like work-life balance can seem low priority when you do all that startups do, despite being either cash- or resource-crunched at any given time.
But there’s a catch. To solve problems or to keep doing what the highs of entrepreneurship demand, founders and startup employees both need fresh perspectives, creative thinking, and constant, relentless motivation, and that is hard when you are physically and mentally exhausted.
Startup employees and founders have more to their lives than their work. But many of them prioritize it over everything else, sometimes because of all that is at stake and sometimes due to the sheer adrenaline rush of it. Most entrepreneurs will admit to being workaholics at some stage, including the likes of Elon Muskand Mark Zuckerberg. Choosing to focus on your startup over every other aspect of your life – leisure, health, family, and community – can be harmful to the pursuit of a balanced work life.
So how does one build the foundations of work-life balance in the high-stakes, high-stress environment many startups function in? Here are a few steps to get started:
Whether you’re a newbie to the startup world or a seasoned entrepreneur, it is important to remember that the first step towards a good work-life balance starts with you. There is a reason that a handful of venture capitalists around the world are now taking on the charge of encouraging work-life balance in their portfolio companies and founders. In the book Start, Love, Repeat by columnist Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, Goodwater Capital Co-founder Eric Kim says, “We want our entrepreneurs to be holistically empowered. We want them to be great leaders and great spouses.” He further explains in the book that there is often a close relationship between the personal and professional.
According to Eric, the best entrepreneur and manager is usually the best spouse and parent too. Andy Kuper, the founder and CEO of Leapfrog Investments, ensures that beyond valuation and leverage, he also speaks to his investees about what he calls “the human struggle” of building a company and its impact on personal lives and families.