When a Startup Gets Hectic, Here’s How to Achieve Balance

Busy entrepreneurs need to find a happy medium

Most people think being the boss of your own company is the ideal scenario: you get to set your own hours and work on something you love. Plus, you might not even have to leave your house to do it! However, entrepreneurs will be quick to tell you that this fantasy looks a little different when you’re living it. From scaling to funding to managing a team, running a startup is hard work. We talked to Moulay Essakalli, founder of language learning platform Zid, to see just what information all founders need to know as they try to find the right work/life balance.

Forgive Yourself

Startup founders often talk about their “journey” when walking investors or customers through the company’s beginnings, the new technology they’ve adopted or the value they’ve added. However, one thing that using the phrase “journey” diminishes is just how much of a sprint the work actually is.

“Entrepreneurship is more than a marathon,” said Essakalli. “It’s like an extreme sport, a series of endless marathons! Make sure to maintain healthy habits to avoid burnout.”

While the journey mentality might be accurate for a wholesale view of your startup, part of maintaining healthy habits is to realize the scope of your work and cut yourself a break. Forgiving yourself for not answering every email or giving yourself a true weekend are healthy tactics that will help you survive another day in the life of the startup marathon.

Boundaries, but with Goals

A lot of advice for busy people centers around the fact that in order to avoid burnout, they should set boundaries about their time and commitments. While this is true, for entrepreneurs in particular, boundaries should be backed by goals. This will ensure that personal time becomes just as important as the time that you’re grinding out a new software phase or redesigning your website.

“It’s difficult to disconnect mentally from work and enjoy experiences such as devoting full attention to my family, reaching out to old and new friends, exploring places, reading a book, or doing nothing,” admitted Essakalli.

Remember, doing nothing can be just as important as doing something. Although it can feel mechanical at first, try planning out specific parts of your day that are dedicated to something other than your startup. Soon, you’ll be able to intuitively respond to your body’s cues about when you need rest and know that your boundaries are working to drive your business.

Give Up…Responsibility

When you’re an entrepreneur, you love watching your startup blossom, and putting in long hours can seem like an easy trade-off for the chance to watch your company grow. Before founders feel too attached to nurturing their business, they need to make room for delegation. In fact, hiring a team of talented, hard-working individuals that support your mission is just as important as building the product or service itself.

“Good communication is paramount to solve any problem,” said Essakalli. “I challenge folks to do their best, but do not push people beyond their limits. Have compassion, show respect and gratitude to the people who commit to working on your team.”

As you loosen your grip on the reins, you might be surprised by just how much free time you have to invest in yourself and your business. It’s only by focusing on curating the talent of others and then letting them get to work that you can achieve a balance between obligation and desire.

Of course, no startup work/life balance recommendation would be complete without a simple (quick is best!) list to keep on hand to break down the basics. Here are Essakalli’s go-to tips:

“Eat well: foods affect our energy levels,” said Essakalli. “Stay physically active, exercise, walk, do whatever you like to oxygenate your brain with a daily routine. Maintain a good sleep schedule. You can’t function at full capacity if you sleep poorly. And last but not least, treat yourself daily and do something that makes you happy!”

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