Warren Coughlin, Business Coach, Toronto, ON, warrencoughlin.com

“I want to start a business, but I really don’t want to sacrifice my work life balance.”

Variations on this sentiment are often shared among people starting new businesses, and folks in my business of coaching often spill a lot of ink advising entrepreneurs how they can accomplish this. At the risk of facing some backlash, I want to give a more harshly realistic perspective. Business is hard, especially at the beginning. That means you are going to make sacrifices, so you best be ready for it.

You need to create and package a quality product or service, figure out how to produce this reliably, get clarity on who might be interested in it, and then you have to define how you’ll communicate to them in an attractive and compelling way. You will also need to master your financials by figuring out how to price your product/service so that you make a profit while remaining competitive, develop great supplier relationships, and determine daily, weekly, quarterly and annual priorities. And so on…

You get my point, right?  There is a ton to learn and ton to do.

Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting you are destined to a life of stress, long hours and distant relationships. Although that does happen far too often to people who aren’t prepared and who never reach out for help.

What I am suggesting is a proper understanding of how balance shifts over time.  Balance does not mean an equal allocation among different areas of your life; it means the ideal allocation given your goals. If you want a lifestyle business that earns you a modest income and creates minimal growth, you’ll settle into a manageable pattern more quickly.

On the other hand, if you want to grow, have a broader impact and generate growing levels of income, you will be constantly learning and constantly facing new challenges. You must be prepared for that.

I do have clients who, after several years of hard work, are now enjoying freedom. They are making 6-7 figure incomes, and are dedicating themselves to charitable endeavors or new businesses because they have systems and second tier management in place to look after daily operations, But it took time — it took intense work and continual learning and it took a relentless desire to improve and to take action to get there.

A farmer does not create a bountiful harvest by dropping some seeds and heading out to the field when it feels right. The crops need tending. If there’s a threat to the harvest, then long, long hours for days on end will be required, but the payoff will be worth it.

It’s the same in business.

Remember this old saying about entrepreneurship: “If you’re willing to do now what others are unwilling to do, you’ll have the life tomorrow that others will never have.”

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