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Q&A: Business vs Family: How to find balance (Includes interview)

When entrepreneurs launch their business, many are using their homes as an office. This creates family issues when there are no physical barriers between job and family, plus the excessive hours worked. Such issues continue once the business is established, taking busy people away from their families.

In the long-run, this form of working is not productive, according to attorney, entrepreneur and author Peter J. Strauss, as he tells Digital Journal.

Digital Journal: Are working hours getting longer?

Peter J. Strauss: It has been said that an Entrepreneur will work 60 hours just to avoid having to do a 40 hour week. Thus, yes, working hours are certainly getting longer. We tell our clients that we hit ground when needed and don’t leave till the job is done.

DJ: Is the need to work long hours essential for entrepreneurs?

Strauss: The need to work long hours isn’t really the question for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have a mentality, not a clock. The relentless pursuit of success knows no bounds so whether you are on your way up the success chain or trying to protect what you’ve built, you might as well get used to “always being on”.

DJ: What is the impact on family life?

Strauss: The impact on family life is often a double edge sword. I’m responding to these questions while traveling to Colorado with my three boys to snowboard with clients and their children. We are fortunate to be able to share experiences together. This on top of just attending the Super Bowl as a guest of a client with my children.

But between the weeks of fun and unique experiences, I was in Europe and due to the time zones, didn’t get any quality interaction with my children for four days. Then of course there is the semblance of normalcy that we try to keep where we just want to have dinner as a family, do homework, hear about each other’s day, tell nighttime stories and do carpool. While on one hand you want to establish structure and routine, you almost need to train your kids to think like entrepreneurs in order to roll with it.

DJ: What can business professionals do to achieve better work-life balance?

Strauss: I’ve found that peer-to-peer networking (organizations such as YPO, Tiger 21, Vistage, etc.) are incredible tools to assist in achieving better work-life balance. They often force a “timeout” of working on the business and require an introspective day of insight across health, children, finance, etc. It’s amazing how much you can reset by taking a day a month to just focus on you.

DJ: Can digital technology help with this?

Strauss: Digital technology is a blessing and a curse. When I first started practicing law, clients allowed several weeks to respond to an inquiry or to provide draft documents. Nowadays if I don’t respond to an email within two days I find myself apologizing for being late to respond and often get “reminders” to respond or follow-up emails asking if I’ve seen the previous email. The flip side being the communication, organizational, and life planning technology can really assist. Whether it’s a FaceTime call from a foreign land, to-do checklist or habit trackers, used appropriately they can be very helpful.

DJ: What are the risks of not getting the work-life balance right?

Strauss: The risk of not getting the work-life balance right would suggest that you failed on the professional or personal basis. In reality, if you don’t get the balance right, you actually risk losing both.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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