ASK THE COACH
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Your Business Is Not Your Life
By Dr. Ray Angelini
July 10, 2001
Dear Dr. Ray,
I have been successfully running my own small business for more than two years. However, I have found that due to all of the time I am devoting to my business, virtually every area of my life has suffered, especially my family life. How can I continue to own my own business and still have time for my life?
— No Life in New York
Dear No Life,
Your complaint is very common among small business owners. Many small business owners become over-identified with their business. I suspect that this must be the case with you. You need to realize that your business is not your life.
Your business and your life are totally separate. You need to change your thinking to recognize that the purpose of your life is not to serve your business, but rather the purpose if your business is to serve your life.
In a groundbreaking book, The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber talks about the significance of working "on" your business, rather than "in" it. Most small business owners believe that if they work hard enough, that their business will succeed. However, the key is not working harder — it is working smarter.
Gerber speaks of viewing your business in a radically different way. By viewing your business as a "product" rather than a "business," you can begin to attract both the customers and employees needed to support and run your business.
You need to view your business as something separate and distinct from yourself. The purpose of your business should be the creation of a vehicle that gives you more life, not less. A business should support your life, not be your life.
As a small business owner, you need to identify the specific needs your business is designed to fulfill, both for yourself and your customers. By doing this, you are taking an important step in separating your business from your life. Remember, you create a business to serve and support your life, not vice versa. Once you make this distinction, you will be well on your way to having and taking more time for your life.
The sooner you begin working "on" your business rather than "in" it, the sooner you will develop both the systems and staff necessary to run your business without you. This may sound like a difficult process, but it is easier to do than you may think. Changing the way you think, feel and work in your business can help you achieve the balance in your life that you desire. Remember, you have already begun doing business in a radically different way merely by asking the question.