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How to run a business — and keep it from running your life.

Small business ownership can bring independence, a sense of fulfillment, financial rewards — and often, long hours.

When you’re trying to launch a new company — or grow one — finding the time for lunch, let alone a week-long trip, can be hard. But those long hours can take a toll.

According to a study by Statistics Canada, four out of 10 self-employed Canadians find most days “quite” or “extremely” stressful. And taking a vacation doesn’t seem to be the solution. In fact, the same article cites a study by Ipsos®* which found that more than half (58 percent) of Canadians report feeling guilty whenever they take time off, and nearly two thirds (63 percent) report checking their phone at least once or twice a day while on vacation. Which means that even the act of taking a vacation can cause, rather than relieve, stress for many entrepreneurs.

If business is booming, but your personal life isn’t, the following 5 suggestions may help you strike a better work/life balance:

  1. First determine if you’re a workaholic: Do people say your job has taken over your life? Do you exhibit signs of chronic stress-related health issues, like an upset stomach and fatigue, or behavioral issues, like mood swings and forgetfulness? For a list of work-addiction signs, check out the Forbes®† article, The Hidden Work-Life Balance Crisis Among Entrepreneurs. If you answered yes to any of the questions, you may be working too much.
  2. Keep set hours: Entrepreneurs who field calls and emails at night, on weekends and during other off-hours may be inadvertently indicating to clients that they’re available to work 24 hours a day.
  3. Be realistic about what you can accomplish each day: Planning a too-busy workday may prevent you from dealing with issues and opportunities that arise. You may feel like you need to fit in a million things, but overbooking could actually cause you to waste time by overextending yourself.
  4. Prioritize your time: Don’t constantly check email and voicemail. Try setting an alarm to make sure you leave the office at a specific time and take breaks throughout the day — moves that can help you stay focused and prevent stress.
  5. Become as efficient as possible: Being organized can help you complete more work in less time, according to, which suggests using personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other tech devices, project management software, shared calendars and other tools to help.

Even in busy times, it’s important to try to schedule regular outside-of-work activities.

Entrepreneurs can easily go from working a 40-hour-a-week schedule to working 70 or 80 when they launch a business. So plan for family and other personal time to help ensure you get a chance to decompress.
®* Registered trademark of Ipsos
®† Registered trademark of Forbes Family Holdings Inc.
®‡ Microsoft is either a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.


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