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Tuesday
Oct122010

Work-Life Balance of a Multipreneur

By John F. Wonak, for DePaul University Coleman Entrepreneurship Center Blog

I’ve read a couple of articles recently about multipreneurs; those who either start up or acquire multiple businesses, and try to run them all at once.  How do they manage this?  One article gave an example of such an individual whose formula for success was to work until you drop, and he himself often works 7 days a week, sometimes getting only a few hours of sleep at night on his office floor.  Another cited an entrepreneur who advises working at home at night after the kids are asleep, from around 9 to 1 a.m., after putting in a full day’s work at the office. 

Make no mistake that this is what entrepreneurs can expect when starting up a new enterprise, for up to as long as the first 3 to 5 years of the business.  I believe in the principle that you need a certain amount of luck to be successful in business – and the harder you work, the luckier you get!  However, the articles did not give much of a counterpoint to these “formulas for success”.  I had a successful client who once told me that no one lying on their deathbed ever said, “Gosh, I wish I had worked harder during my lifetime”. 

If you are young, single, and don’t care about having any social life, then by all means, work as hard as you can at becoming successful, but be aware that you can expect diminishing returns from those long hours.  Once you get married, however, and especially after you start a family, don’t expect to continue such a work routine, or you won’t be married for very long.  Working long hours can become habit-forming or addictive.  As with most addictions, this too can be very unhealthy.  Also, be careful working from home on a regular basis.  You need a place to get away from the pressures of work to “recharge you batteries”, and your home should be that sanctuary.  There has to be a work-life balance, if you wish to enjoy the fruits of your labor. 

The most successful multipreneurs I’ve encountered didn’t start up another new business until they got the current business running smoothly and were able to delegate most of their responsibilities.  Maintaining focus on your core competency is crucial, which is hard for many entrepreneurs to do.  It also helps if the new business is somewhat related to the industry their current business is in, and if the current infrastructure can handle the new venture until it is capable of standing on its own.  It also is critical that you surround yourself with experienced advisors, and not fool yourself into believing that you know everything you need to know about business law, corporate finance, HR, etc.  Those advisors don’t come cheap, and that is why you need to be well capitalized going into a new venture.  I’ve often noticed that those business owners who need help the most tend to be the ones who can least afford it.



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