Work-life balance is something many entrepreneurs and small business owners struggle with.
Obtaining a better work-life balance is possible, with strategic planning.
There’s nothing more exciting than breaking free of cubicle life and starting your own business. Finally, you can be your own boss and make your own rules. You get to decide how your time is spent, who you partner with and how you go about doing business. To be sure, there are a lot of benefits to running your own company.
But there are also quite a few drawbacks to entrepreneurship.
For one, there’s no safety net – you’re putting most, if not all, of your eggs in the basket labelled “I’m going to start a business, and it’s going to be a success.”
There are stressful decisions to be made on a regular basis regarding hiring, firing, pricing, planning, partnerships and more.
The scale of work-life balance tends to tilt toward the work side (if not crash to the floor).
But how many hours per week do entrepreneurs really work? Do they take vacations and/or weekends off? How do they cope with the day-to-day stress of running a business? Are there opportunities to delegate or outsource that are being missed – and do entrepreneurs trust their employees enough to pass the work off to them? What’s the lifestyle cost of being an entrepreneur? Most importantly, is true work-life balance possible for small business owners?
We decided to survey hundreds of entrepreneurs to get answers to these questions, as well as several others.
The responses surprised us – pleasantly, in some cases. In others, not so much. Here’s what we found:
How Many Hours Are Small Business Owners REALLY Working?
When talking about work-life balance, the first question should be “how many hours per week do you work?”
So we asked, and the general response was, “a lot.”
- 19% work 60+ hours per week
- 30% work 50-59 hours per week
- 33% work 40-49 hours per week
- 14% work 30-39 hours per week
- 5% work less than 30 hours per week
Although around 1 in 5 business owners work less than the standard 40-hour work week – a major win for those who are able to achieve it – the majority are in the 40+ category. And there are still a significant number of entrepreneurs pulling 60+ hours per week.
Next, we asked the small business owners if they expected any change in the hours they would work in future. More than half said they expected no change, but one-third said they anticipated an increase in the hours they work. For 85% of entrepreneurs, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel – they’ll be working just as much, if not more, in the future.
How Many Hours Do Entrepreneurs Want to Work Each Week?
It’s difficult to tell if somebody is working too much without first knowing how many hours they prefer to work each week. Surprisingly, 1% of the business owners we surveyed actually want to work more than 60 hours per week, and 43% prefer to clock in a minimum of 40 hours each week.
By contrast, 56% want to work 39 hours or less each week.
The takeaway: although small business owners don’t mind putting in the hours to grow their companies, most are still spending more time working than they’d prefer. Although entrepreneurs are putting in a lot of hours, they agree that there are some advantages to owning your own business – like increased flexibility. Sure, some small business owners may be working 55 hours per week, but at least they have more say in exactly when those hours are.
When we asked, “Compared to your former career, does owning your own business give you more or less flexibility with pursuing outside interests?”, 73% reported in the that they do have more flexibility with their hours now than they did when they were working for somebody else.
Nearly one in ten small business owners who responded to our survey are lifelong entrepreneurs, with no other job to compare it to. There’s a hefty price tag (read: time investment) that comes along with owning your own business, but the vast majority of entrepreneurs find that it gives them the flexibility many cubicle dwellers only wish they had.
The good news here is that almost all small business owners are able to get away from their companies and recharge their batteries. The vacation days may not be in the summer – or other peak sales times – but they do exist, and almost half of entrepreneurs are able to take more than the standard two weeks off each year. Very few are working straight through the year, which can’t be sustainable for very long. On a TAB-specific note, the TAB members we surveyed take considerably more vacation days than non-members do. Again, this can largely be attributed to strategic planning.
By reading Work-Life Balance, you will:
- Learn how many hours small business owners are REALLY working.
- Find out the dilemma between delegating vs. outsourcing.
- Learn how work-life balance for entrepreneurs is possible with strategic planning.