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Entrepreneur Mom

with Aliza Sherman

If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.

To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.

The Entrepreneur’s Life - Does Reality Bite?

Categories: Business Essentials, Startup Tips, Uncategorized, Work/Life

5 comments

cluttered desk

This question was recently posed to WorkItMom:

“If I am going to start a business, does it mean that I will have to work 10 hours a day from the start?”

The quick and easy answer to this question is: It depends what kind of business you want to start.

But even hearing the question makes me wonder what people think business ownership is all about.

This reminds me of my post Are You An Entrepreneur Or…?, but let’s revisit the topic, shall we?

For some reason, starting a business is one of those “Great American Dreams” next to writing the “Great American Novel” and “Buying a House with a White Picket Fence.” Since when did entrepreneurship get such fantasy treatment? Don’t get me wrong. I love love love having and running my own business. But it isn’t easy, and has been made even more difficult since I’ve had a baby.

So here’s my long answer to the question about having to work 10 hour days when you start a business.

1. You need to know why you want to be an entrepreneur. If you are asking how much time you will have to devote to your business, you might rethink whether you really want to own a business or not. Entrepreneurs don’t start businesses based on the size of the time commitment. They start businesses because they want to have a business or want to fill a need in the marketplace and think they are the ones to do it or they think they can make a difference with a business.

2. You need to know what kind of business you want to start. If you are asking how much time you will have to devote to your business day-to-day, you might want to first ask yourself what kind of business you want to start. Then you can do some research and ask other entrepreneurs in your field how much time they spend on their business.

3. You need to work a lot on a business. How much is a lot? That depends on the type of business, and your financial and business goals. If you are looking to pinpoint and limit your time commitment to your work to fit into the rest of your life, please take a part-time job with set hours.

2. You need to work when work needs to be done. If you don’t have some degree of flexibility with your time, chances are you’d be better off not starting a business. If you don’t have staff when you startup, everything rests on your shoulders, and that burden can be very heavy.

4. You need to work to have a business. Your business will not thrive if you expect it to sit around and wait for you to attend to it. No time to work? Your business probably won’t take off much less survive.

4. You can tailor your business to fit your life, but business suffers.
This is the old theory of “you can’t have it all” or “you can have it all but not all at once.” If you put your life as a priority, which by all means I encourage, then business will suffer unless you have others in place to do the work for you.

5. You can try not to tailor your life to fit your business, but your life suffers.
I don’t know any successful entrepreneur - successful in terms of profitable, in money terms - who can honestly say that their personal life or relationships have not suffered in some way or at some time because they spent more time on their business.

Bottom Line: Starting and running a business takes time and lots of it. There’s usually no way around that fact. But if you find a way, let us know!



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5 comments so far...

  • It’s true, your work hours depend on what you want to accomplish. We started Kountr with the hopes that it will allow my husband to stay home with us during the day. He has a full time job during the day and I am an at-home mom.

    The workload is getting to the point that we are no longer getting much sleep. We want to follow our business model: Kountr is for the user so, we respond and implement, if possible, all feedback within a week. It is tiring but we are having fun. We could change the time frame but we decided that immediate replies and implentation is key.

    Antoinette  |  May 7th, 2008 at 7:52 am

  • This is a great post, I have a few acquaintances that need to read this ;)

    Karrine  |  May 7th, 2008 at 4:27 pm

  • As the founder of a company, you will work, but in the beginning, if you are doing what you love, it will not be like “work” but more like a project that takes lots of time. I definitely would question the person who asks the question regarding the amount of time he/she must spend each day to get the business going. A true enrepreneur would not ask this question. The answer is always yes, despite what anyone says for any business worth it’s weight. You must be prepared for this - your family must be prepared. Furthermore, you can involve your family by including them in the “process” and letting them know step by step what you’ve accomplished and how that will translate to a future business! For example, everytime something appeared on the internet (our website, a mention on one of the franchise sites, etc) that said KidzArt, I would show my son so that he could see that our company was more than just an “idea.” It was actually becoming a real business. You might try doing a “show and tell” with your friends and family - make it fun. Use storyboards. Of course, I like to use art projects as a way to communicate, so of course my son was always involved from day one.

    KidzArt started in my office on my computer while my son was at preschool. He’s now fifteen and still works with us during the summers and when we have trainings. It’s a family affair!!!

    Shell - KidzArt Founder  |  May 7th, 2008 at 6:41 pm

  • Aliza, I really enjoyed this post and boy, does it ring true:)

    I think your last two points are so key — starting a business is tremendous work — and there is no way to have any kind of life-work balance when you do it — one will suffer at one point or another.

    Starting Work It, Mom! has been the toughest thing I’ve done, and I’ve had really tough jobs/life changes before this. I think what Shell says is right — since I am passionate about it, much of the work feels less like work. BUT this doesn’t mean that I am not working 14 hours a day (my average), not sleeping much, and having to sacrifice my own life and time with my family.

    Nataly  |  May 7th, 2008 at 7:59 pm

  • Hi Aliza,

    I agree with Nataly. The big keys seem to be in 4 & 5 and what is it we want to remember when we’re 99 years old! :)

    As always…super blog!

    ~Annemarie

    Annemarie  |  May 8th, 2008 at 6:08 am

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