We hear it all the time: If you’re serious about growing your company, you need to be ready to hustle and grind out 80-hour work weeks. I disagree. In fact, I believe that attracting a team of people who believe the opposite—as I do—has been one of the key drivers of rapid growth for my company.
I founded vChief, a fractional executive staffing company with a focus on the chief of staff role, in 2016. In the last four years, we’ve grown from six to eight figures in revenue and from one to 20 employees. While I’m very proud of this growth, I’m most proud of having achieved this while still maintaining a great work-life balance for myself and my employees.
I’ve built my business around three core values, and it’s resulted in a company culture that allows me and all of my team to focus on the people and passions in our lives. Here’s a look at how these core values play out in business and how you can take a similar approach:
Work is not the most important thing in our lives.
While I love my job and the business I’ve built, family and travel are my highest priorities. I’ve worked hard to build a company culture that allows my employees to also balance a rich personal life with their job duties.
The commitment to balancing work and life has led us to adopt a 32-hour work week. All of our internal staff have the option to work a four-day week or to work reduced daily hours over five days.
In my experience, working long hours under high pressure leads to unhappy, burned-out staff and doesn’t result in better work. We find the compressed workweek, which people see as a huge benefit, results in using our time more efficiently. Our overall work quality actually improves.
Our team cites our 32-hour week, unlimited PTO and remote work as some of the top perks that attracted them to vChief. I believe these employee-centric policies are the reason why we have very low turnover, which has also helped us achieve growth.
We don’t set unrealistic growth goals.
I don’t believe that employees achieve more when they’re pushed to achieve unrealistic growth goals. To me, that’s a setup for low morale. Even when targets are clearly unrealistic, and everyone knows it, people still feel a sense of failure for not achieving them. A rushed, pressured and stressed-out staff makes mistakes. It's not worth it.
That’s why I recommend launching new offerings with realistic revenue growth goals. Give yourself time to integrate changes and effectively enhance your business offerings. In other words, go slow to go fast.
I’ve seen many other companies do the exact opposite and launch a new product with huge expectations, which comes with an expectation of putting in long hours and setting aside your personal life. But I’ve learned that emotionally healthy and balanced people—the kind of employees you want to be around—don’t stay in high-pressure, high-stress environments very long.
Trust is granted rather than needing to be earned.
I trust my employees to do good work. Period. I don’t care how many hours it takes them to do it or when they do it. I believe smart people can make their own decisions—especially the ones I hire! If I’ve delegated something, I trust that person to seek out the information they need and to reach out for help when they need it.
I keep reading about new ways companies are monitoring their employees’ work—both at home and in the office. There are software products that allow employers to monitor every keystroke and web page view of their remote employees. Personally, I think that’s absurd, offensive and even creepy. It’s a violation of trust, and I’ve built my whole company around trust.
I would encourage business leaders to never monitor or spy on an employee to see what they’re doing. They’re either doing great work or they’re not and the proof will be in the outcomes they achieve.
If you want to build a business that’s still around in five or 10 years, I believe balancing your life and your work is the smartest way to grow both your impact and revenue. When you value and respect employees and allow them to develop a healthy work-life balance, you’ll attract the best and most emotionally healthy people. Those are the people who will help you grow your company in a balanced, sustainable way and stay with you for the long haul.
Running a business from the comfort of your home can be both rewarding and challenging. While a home-based business offers flexibility and convenience, it can also blur the lines between work and your personal life, leading to burnout and a lack of work-life balance.
If not managed carefully, a home-based business can quickly feel like it’s taking over your life. What’s one good way you can set boundaries between your home-based business and your home life so you can still enjoy some work-life balance?
1. Leverage the help of a housekeeper
A housekeeper is an essential ally for maintaining boundaries between your home-based business and personal life. A clean and organized home reduces distractions, helps you stay focused during work hours and increases productivity. With a housekeeper taking care of the household chores, you'll have more time to devote to your business without sacrificing your personal life. —Monica Snyder, Birdsong
2. Stick to set working hours
One good way to set boundaries between your home-based business and your personal life is to establish clear working hours and stick to them as much as possible. This means setting specific times during the day when you will be working and then communicating those hours to family members. It’s also important to avoid working outside of these designated hours and to instead focus on your family. —Eddie Lou, CodaPet
3. Create a physical space for work
Creating a physical space to work will help your brain switch from "home" to "work." You can go all out and buy new furniture or you can keep it easy by just going into a room and simply closing the door. Sometimes you need to be creative if you have a small space, so even adding a curtain to divide work from home will do. Don't be afraid to think creatively! —Shu Saito, SpiroPure
4. Keep tools and resources separate
You can better manage your home-based business without it consuming your life by investing in resources specifically for your job. For instance, I have two computers—one for work and one for my off hours. I never log in to my work accounts on my personal computer and vice versa. This strategy helps me draw a clear line between my career and personal life. —Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
5. Develop time management skills
Making things time bound helps improve work-life balance when working remotely. All you need to do is clearly estimate the time you'll require for completing a particular task, set the deadline for it, and complete it within the set time. By doing this, you'll be able to efficiently manage your time, which in turn helps you keep up with your personal and professional commitments. —Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms
6. Set boundaries with family members
One of the biggest challenges of running a business from home is ensuring everybody in the household treats it as a real job and a real business. Try to set reasonable boundaries with your family members—but, keep yourself in check too. For example, you can establish "working" hours during which you cannot be distracted, but outside of which you cannot check your phone. —Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
7. Create start and end rituals
One of the best tips is to make sure you have a go-to-work and end-of-work process. Set up a ritual that starts your workday. Mine is sitting down with a cup of coffee and opening my email. This is a trigger that it is time to work. Then, have a ritual to end your day. Mine is as simple as closing my laptop. It is my signal that my day is done. Having these triggers will create real separation in your life. —Zane Stevens, Protea Financial
8. Get out of the house
A simple solution is to take your work outside your house if possible. Going to a café or coworking space regularly will help set the boundaries needed to stay productive and maintain a good work-life balance. Experiencing a change in physical space will naturally make you less prone to distractions and procrastination while also helping your mind recharge. So, get out sometimes to manage things. —Blair Williams, MemberPress
9. Detox from the digital world
Unplug and unwind! Schedule a weekly "digital detox day" to disconnect from screens, emails, and social media. Reconnect with loved ones and enjoy some quality time for a healthy work-life balance. —Pratik Chaskar, Spectra
10. Get dressed
At the start of the day, dress for success. When you are off work, dress down into relaxed clothes (whatever suits your style). This way, you actually feel like you are getting off work. Also, put down the phone and stop checking emails. —Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
Image Credit: Photo by Pixabay
Growing a business is a top priority for entrepreneurs. However, focusing solely on your company is not the most effective way to achieve business growth. I have discovered over the past decade that working on yourself and your personal development makes a difference in every aspect of your life. Without you, your business cannot function, and if you are not striving to meet your best potential self, your business has no chance of reaching its full potential.
Working on personal development to consistently improve who you are will make you more self-aware and teach you to do what works best for you. In turn, you will put yourself in situations where you are the most efficient and effective, which will give you more time and energy to focus on your brand.
This discovery has taught me to set goals that focus on personal development, not on numerical-based achievements that are not 100% in my control. Personal development for entrepreneurs is a process that takes time and effort, not only on the good days, but on the bad days, too. Therefore, I want to share five key things you must do in order to practice and up your personal development game.
5 steps to personal development for entrepreneurs
1. Have the right mindset
First, you must have the right mindset when approaching tasks or opportunities. You need to want to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone, even if there is a possibility of failure. Being in uncomfortable situations will help you learn things about yourself that you wouldn’t have known if you were in a comfortable environment.
Here are a few ways to improve your mindset:
Having the right mindset is the most important thing you can do to improve your personal development. If you open yourself up to be in a situation of growth, the growth will happen.
2. Expand your knowledge
Next, you need to expand your knowledge base and be perpetually curious. My best advice is to read books, ones about your industry and ones that are not. Learn from the experiences of leaders and trailblazers before you. Become inspired to be like the people you read about.
The more knowledge you have, the more power you have to elevate, grow, and generate ideas. If you are not curious, you become stagnant.
3. Locate blind spots and bottlenecks
Locating blind spots and bottlenecks is an important and difficult step in the personal development process. I like to say that there are things you know that you know, things you know that you don’t know, and things you don’t even know that you don’t know.
For example, maybe you're more extroverted as a leader than you are in daily life. Maybe you have a knack for crisis management, but didn't find out until you were in a crisis situation. When practicing personal development, you start to become aware of aspects about yourself that you would have never expected to be true. Through this self-awareness, you can make adjustments and begin taking advantage of these skills and characteristics. You can use them to become a better leader, and ultimately, a better person.
4. Overcome your fears
The hardest and most introspective part of personal development is overcoming your fears. We can't move forward unless we acknowledge our fears. Being aware of what those fears are (whether it's a fear of failure or not being respected as a leader), can help us move forward. Self-awareness is necessary in order for you to grow as a person—and to grow your business.
You can read about and learn from the struggles of successful people who have overcome their fears and try to follow their example.
5. Understand your "why"
Personal development for entrepreneurs is all about understanding who you truly are and being 100% self-aware in order to grow, not only as a person, but as a leader, too. What is that "why" that keeps you moving forward? What gives you the purpose and motivation to keep trying new things and reaching for success? Your "why" is the driving force behind the decisions that you make.
As business leaders, sometimes we get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations and forget to acknowledge why we started a company in the first place. Your "why" can be anything from wanting to take care of your parents, desiring a legacy to pass on to generations after you, or giving your kids the life experiences that you maybe didn’t have.
Personal development leads to business growth
Practicing these five steps—finding your "why", overcoming your fears, locating your blind spots, being curious, and having a positive mindset—is essential to personal development for entrepreneurs. Working on yourself is the most effective way to achieve business growth.
FAQs about personal development for entrepreneurs
Below we have summarized the most important questions and answers on the subject.
Why is personal development important for entrepreneurs?
Your personal development makes a difference in every aspect of your life. Without you, your business cannot function, and if you are not striving to meet your best potential self, your business has no chance of reaching its full potential. Personal development will make you more self-aware and teach you to do what works best for you. In turn, you will put yourself in situations where you are the most efficient and effective, which will give you more time and energy to focus on your brand.
What are some ways to focus on personal development?
1. Have the right mindset
2. Expand your knowledge
3. Locate blind spots and bottlenecks
4. Overcome your fears
5. Understand your "why"
Source: AllBusiness Editors
A study by F1000Research in 2021 found that transformational entrepreneurship has an incredible effect on a leader’s personal readiness for change, psychological resilience, and employee performance.
Meanwhile, another case study from the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research gives valuable insights into how entrepreneurial firms are creating and seizing opportunities using innovative practices, digital technologies, and key organizational values.
While it is impossible for every business endeavor to be successful, the key to transforming your entrepreneurship goals into effective plans of action is to discover your genuine brand authenticity, recognize the best ways to connect with your customers, and have a strong supporting team to help you along the way.
The following books on this list will help any business leader and entrepreneur that is looking to elevate their business ideas and build a highly successful business.
1. Jeremy Delk – Without a Plan
Jeremy Delk’s Without a Plan: A Memoir of Unbound Action and Failing My Way to Success is for the entrepreneur that is looking to find personal and professional career growth by following a forward-moving approach when it comes to overcoming moments of failure, building authenticity, and finding true happiness.
It is a story of how a smart and confident man with a passion for disrupting industries has been able to navigate life’s inevitable challenges and dive headfirst into the business world. Like so many entrepreneurs, Jeremy Delk started his journey without a plan but now lights the path for Fortune 500 companies across the globe.
‘There was a pattern emerging in my life that dictated that the second I got bored, I’d make a move. Luckily, I was never short of ideas.’
Delk shows us that success can be achieved through a variety of innovations and as many ideas as possible, rather than only relying on one truly amazing concept. Despite some missteps, his businesses have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, hundreds of well-paying American jobs, and recognition as one of Inc. 500's fastest-growing companies.
2. Ben Sachs – All Rise
Ben Sachs began practicing law as a lawyer at Sidley Austin and a strategic management consultant at Storyblocks and the Boston Consulting Group. Since then, he has held the position of president of The Landing Group and taught law students at the University of Virginia School of Law. He is regarded as an authority in management, strategy, negotiation, and communications.
In his book, All Rise: Practical Tools for Building High-Performing Legal Teams, Ben explains how lawyers can advance in their careers by setting themselves apart not just through their legal work but also through their capacity to assemble outstanding legal teams.
Along with informing readers how to turn common challenges into constructive action, Ben empowers leaders to utilize ‘tools that create an environment where ownership can thrive’ to prevent the potential of ‘unraveling’ and ‘strike the right balance.’ He believes that the greatest legal professionals see the world in a different light and that the right practices and tools can make all the difference in any industry.
But this book isn’t just for legal professionals, leaders from any industry can use these practical tools for building high-performing teams. This can include trusted tools for conflict resolution, team communications, monitoring organizational health, and other implementations that allow managers to align teams beyond traditional management training. Ultimately, Ben Sachs’s book demonstrates that having the right tools in your business toolbox helps leaders align and put teams first.
3. David Allison – The Death of Demographics
When it comes to how global B2B and B2C brands can create engaging values-driven strategies, the truth is out there.
In his new book, The Death of Demographics: Valuegraphic Marketing for a Values-Driven World, David Allison provides a do-it-yourself approach to understanding what your target audience values and how you can improve marketing effectiveness with valuegraphics.
Instead of focusing on only the demographics and psychographics that influence consumer behavior, valuegraphics focuses on what drives and unites consumers on a deeper level. As the founder of the Valuegraphics Project, David argues that the traditional ways we research and define our target audiences is becoming ineffective. That instead, aligning our shared human values can be far more powerful. As a result, global companies can transform themselves into more customer-centric and values-driven organizations.
Building Highly Productive Team Takes Work
If you are looking to take the next step in your business venture or are just getting started, these books will offer any business leader or entrepreneur practical advice on how to thrive. Move forward without a plan but with positive thinking, build a highly productive team with the right internal tools, and focus on the core human values of your customers to build trust. These are the key elements that will help your company experience forward-moving growth in the new year.
Image Credit: Getty Images
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