Working to be successful is the key agenda of almost all emerging entrepreneurs. But how does one know where to draw the line? The question as to whether one is working to live or living to work is always elusive.
Start-ups depend on their founders to survive in the ruthless world of modern business. Stress and health issues go hand in hand while running a venture. Heavy workloads, improper sleep and even family strife are affecting the health of young founders. The founder's inability to manage stress turns a new venture into a rudderless ship.
Working to be successful is the key agenda of almost all emerging entrepreneurs. But how does one know where to draw the line? The question as to whether one is working to live or living to work is always elusive. The bottom line is however clear. Over working or working long hours has adverse effects on the body that results in headache, upset stomach, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, indigestion, nervous tics, dizziness, etc. Apart from chronic health issues, overwork often results in chronic behavourial ailments, such as restlessness, irritability, temper outbursts, impatience, forgetfulness, difficulty in concentrating, insomnia, difficulty relaxing, boredom and mood swings.
Dr Bryan Robinson, author of Chained to the Desk, a psychotherapist, and a Professor Emeritus ESC at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte opines that workaholism is not constrained to the number of hours an entrepreneur works but what and how his relationship is with the work. Robinson’s research on the American Journal of Family Therapy shows statistics that are worth a concern.
• Workaholics are 40 per cent more likely to have marriages that end in divorce.
• The children of workaholic parents tend to show same signs as those of alchoholic parents – greater amount of depression, more stress and a belief in the fact that they are controlled by some external agents than vice versa.
• Addiction to work also results in weakening of the immune system that leads to heart ailments and often to Type II Diabetes.
On a superficial level, it might seem that entrepreneurs enjoy greater freedom as they have time flexibility. They can modify their work schedule to fulfill family commitments. Such is not the case with organisational employees. Hence, judged from a theoretical perspective, entrepreneurs undergo a lower conflict when it comes to maintaining their work-life balance. When looked at from the perspective of an entrepreneur, the same flexibility is bounded by survival and economic success of the enterprise.
According to Greenhaus, J. H., & Callanan, G. A. (1994), in Career Management Fort Worth: The Dryden Pres, “Men with flexible working hours worked longer hours, which has a negative effect on work-life balance.”Studies show that a majority of entrepreneurs carry work home and still think about work even when he or she is not in office as they bear higher responsibility towards their work.
So how to overcome these challenges so that ‘work’ do not end up in burn outs?
We spoke to few such entrepreneurs who had been on the road and have learned from their mistakes.
Smart Working or Hard Working?
For young Shekhar Badve, Founder-Director, Lokus Design Pvt Ltd, his biggest challenge was the inability to visualise the long-term repercussions of his decisions. He did not realise that his initial hunger and passion have to stand in the long run. It had to be sustainable. Now he chooses to work smart, rather than hard.
“I ensure that I segregate my time in a way that I finish my work on time. This gives me time for rejuvenation that helps me to work more efficiently the next day. When there is too much work, I take short breaks, which enables me to effectively concentrate on my work,” says Badve.
Pre-empt Your Business
With proper planning, comes the art of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. “My personal space is dear to me, hence I plan in a way that I maintain a balance between my personal and professional life. I am a part of the creative industry, which requires me to ideate, detaching myself from work and talking to people enables me to think of avenues and ideas,” says Badve.
Setting up goals that seems reasonable is one of the best ways to combat stress. Your goal should be one that is in alignment with your passion and purpose in life. There is always a reason to stay late, work through the weekends or otherwise ignore the family. The key point to remember is how to strike a balance between the two. It is best to believe in the adage that your work is dependent on your personal space. One cannot survive without the other. In this way, both will receive, if not exact, but almost an equal space in the priorities chart.
“I prioritise my work. Without priorities, the urgent will always take over and you will be left frustrated that you missed something of importance for something else that might be urgent, but less important and which in turn leads to stress. I have built up a strong team and learnt the art of delegation, instead of absorbing the stress alone,” says Rahul Walia, Chairman, CIPL.
The main factor to avoid burnouts is having clarity of thoughts so that energy could be invested in the right direction. Time management is very critical. One should very clearly understand the limitations of time and organise things accordingly. At work, success is measured by results. Some people get confused and measure their success by how much time they put in.
Set a Vision
Having a vision about the business is very important. The vision is the most crucial thing for any entrepreneur. “To combat majority of the hurdles that come as impediments during the conceptualising stage of my business, I worked upon my SWOT (Strengths, Opportunities, Weakness and Threats) analysis. Then with the help of this analysis, I moved ahead with my goal,” says Walia.
“I work on a motto – ‘Work Hard, Play Harder’ – with this motto, the work was never boring and would look to do good work during the day and party hard at night. Work that is interesting does not turn out to be stressful,” says Udit Mittal, Founder and MD, Unison International Consulting.
Make the Environment Work Friendly
A dull working environment should be changed into a colourful and innovative one. The entrepreneur should arrange activities like employee refreshment. “Nowadays, it is more about a fun loving and innovative work culture rather than monotonous working hours,” says Mittal.
The initial years for an entrepreneur are extremely difficult and a positive environment at home gives him/her the confidence that everything would be just fine.
“Without the support of family, the things, which conceptualise entrepreneurial projects, are more or less if not impossible, very difficult. Hence, to successfully start and build your own business, family support is of utmost importance,” says Premlesh Machama, MD, CareerBuilder.
Keep the Spirits Up
It is essential to keep the passion going. Even during moments of crisis, one should not stop innovating. Boost of adrenaline is good for short-term goals but must not be overused. Working from fear of failure might result in boosting adrenaline from the fight or flight response. Such working structure must be regulated.
Working with passion is what makes an entrepreneur, which however does not exclude that you will fail. Failure should not be taken as paralytic but a mobiliser so that it gives you more motivation to work harder, rather work smarter. Enjoy every moment of running a business. Avoid being wrapped up in work so much that you lose the capacity to bounce back.
“I was never stressed out as work always left me energised leaving me with more energy. Work leaves you stressed out only if it is a burden. I wholeheartedly enjoy what I do. I never had any expectation – I never followed money, money had to perforce follow me,” says Alka Gupta, MD, Bafel.