Secrets to Work/Life Integration

Article by:
Randall Gerber EO Columbus
Randall Gerber
EO Columbus

In my 20 years as an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that one of the best ways to ensure the long-term success of your business is to develop a great communications environment at home. While we always talk about wanting balance in our lives, what most of us really want is the integration of our work life and home life. While running my company, I have observed five key stages of entrepreneurship and various ways of integrating the spousal relationship into each.

  • The Bliss Stage:
    You feel full of excitement and raw enthusiasm. You’re pouring everything into making your new venture work. How does your spouse feel? Long hours away from home, strained finances, mental distractions— all of these business challenges can make a spouse feel angry, resentful or abandoned. At this stage, integration is extremely critical, and can provide a foundation for all future stages of the business. Here’s how I went about doing this:

    • I scheduled weekly gathering time with my spouse to informally talk about the week

    • I shared business goals and strategic plans, ensuring my spouse felt included

    • We reviewed our calendars for the upcoming week and looked for those events that could cause “high highs” or “low lows”

  • The Trapped Stage:
    You begin to see how hard success can be. Your enthusiasm starts to wane, but you’re in so deep that it’s hard to back out without feeling like a failure. You’ve sunk such significant amounts of time, energy and financial resources into the business that “pressing on” feels like the only option. Here’s how I maintained my focus:

    • I stayed confident in my idea; it’s what got me where I am

    • I solicited support from my spouse and family, leaning on them for guidance

    • I maintained the level of spousal communication I started in stage one (it was important that I didn’t abandon the “information sharing” rituals we instituted at home)

  • The ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’ Stage:
    Your business is finally on level ground. Your finances improve and your enthusiasm begins to return, but things are still very, very delicate. The slightest problem could cause everything to fall apart. Here’s how I stayed the course:

    • I invested in my spouse through time, fun and focus, and was 100 percent present when we were together

    • I shared the joys of the business, not just the burdens. It was important to communicate the good things the business created for the entire family, and not just me

    • I recognized the role my spouse plays in our family and work success

  • The Acceleration Stage:
    Things begin to really take off from financial, marketing and process perspectives, and your business starts to emerge as a significant player in your industry. Here’s how I kept my spouse in the loop:

    • I maintained deliberate planning and conscious communication with my spouse. I made certain she still understood the evolution plans and strategic goals of the business

    • I shared my personal goals at this critical juncture: What do I see in our future? What does my spouse see? What are our family goals? Are these goals still compatible?

  • The Sustainable Stage:
    Financial rewards are strong and disposable time is plentiful. Processes are refined and under routine improvement. You’ve established your business as a leader in the industry. Here’s how I maintained similar success in my family life:

    • Putting in place the right people in your business can mean the difference between how much time you spend at work and at home. Ensuring I hired the right people to help run my business provided me and my family with peace of mind

    • I established joint-legacy goals (a good priority at this juncture)

    • Succession planning for your business may often include family members. As such, I discussed with my spouse how this will impact our family life, should it be the case

  • At the end of the day, integrating your
    professional and personal lives can seem like a juggling act. As one of the lucky entrepreneurs who has made it through the journey with a successful business and family intact, it was well worth the hard work, risks and rewards.

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