How to Balance Family and Business — An Entrepreneur's Guide to Harmonious Living

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Along with professional dedication, entrepreneurship calls for personal sacrifice, especially when it comes to family life. For entrepreneurs, success on the home front hinges on clear communication, active family involvement and striking a balance between personal and professional commitments.

By mastering these elements, founders can create the supportive home environment necessary for success in building businesses.

Related: How to Build a Business and a Family at the Same Time

The importance of clear communication

Effective communication is vital for maintaining harmony between all the work that has to go into entrepreneurial pursuits and family life. If anything, entrepreneurs should deliberately over-communicate with their families about the demands and potential impacts of their busy schedules. By clearly outlining their tasks, commitments and the inherent uncertainties of entrepreneurship, they can manage expectations and reduce conflicts. This transparency ensures that family members are up-to-date on the entrepreneur’s availability and financial stability with the result of fostering a mutually supportive environment.

My own experience starting Dynasty Financial Partners highlights the importance of this approach. Communicating at length with my wife Mary Ann, we set realistic expectations about the challenges ahead and the sacrifices our family would have to make. By mutually adopting a policy of under-promising and over-delivering, we aligned our family’s goals with those of the business, understanding that our collective efforts could help us realize our American Dream — while taking care not to glamorize the adversity we faced. This alignment and our commitment to ongoing frankness were critical as we faced nearly three years without a paycheck. This process, which continues to this day, reinforces the importance of being united as a couple and ready — really ready — for the ride ahead.

Securing the buy-in from family members that’s so crucial to entrepreneurial success involves more than setting expectations. Involving family in the business can build an understanding of entrepreneurship and foster a sense of shared purpose. For example, I often bring my wife to final interview meetings with candidates and involve her in client events. Her insights and intuition contribute to our business decisions and strengthen our client relationships.

Integrating family into business operations

Another way to get buy-in from family is to involve your kids without pressuring them into it. As age-appropriate, allowing children to visit the office, ask questions and learn about business operations can demystify the entrepreneurial process and help children feel connected to their parent’s work. This connection should be developed without creating undue pressure for them to follow a related career path, allowing them to pursue their own passions while understanding and appreciating the family’s collective efforts.

To this end, we sometimes frame our family as “Team Penney” to reinforce the idea that we share our achievements and challenges. This team mentality extends to naming our thoroughbred racehorse stable “Team Penney Racing,” emphasizing that outcomes for the stable were results for the whole family. Team building strengthens our family bond and highlights the importance of teamwork in recreational and professional contexts alike. I’ve found that celebrating family achievements and shared successes further reinforces the benefits of collective sacrifices and strengthens the family’s support system.

“Team Penney” has helped us view our family as a cohesive unit that shares and learns from each other’s experiences. This mindset has brought us closer and established a structure for everyone in the family to contribute, learn and grow together. I recommend it, or something similar, as a way to help family feel connected to the business that, necessarily, takes up so much of your time.

Related: 6 Productivity Hacks That Help Me Balance Multiple Companies and a Family

Strategies for maintaining work-life balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is perhaps the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur. Setting clear boundaries around work and prioritizing family time are essential ingredients to professional and domestic success. I learned early that I can balance my commitments most effectively by treating my wife with the courtesy and respect I accord my very best clients and by showing up — fully present and attentive — for important family events. Taking family vacations and father-daughter trips provides opportunities to recharge and invest in our relationships, ensuring that quality time takes precedence over quantity.

It’s also important to recognize the cumulative impacts of stress and the emotional toll of entrepreneurship. Being open about challenges and checking one’s “master of the universe” ego at the door can alleviate personal pressures and foster a more supportive family environment. To my mind, prioritizing personal and mental health, including involving family in activities like workouts and meditation, is crucial for long-term success and well-being.

Outsourcing less important tasks at work and learning to delegate responsibilities to colleagues can also free up valuable time for family and personal pursuits. Surrounding yourself with competent advisors and leveraging their expertise helps entrepreneurs focus on high-priority areas, both in business and at home.

Fostering family unity for entrepreneurial success

Reflecting on our entrepreneurial journey, it becomes evident that success in business is intertwined with the support system at home. Again, enjoying wins as a family, whether small achievements or significant milestones, is a powerful reminder to loved ones of the benefits of shared sacrifice. These celebrations reinforce the collective effort and underscore the importance of family unity in achieving entrepreneurial goals.

For many, the entrepreneurial journey is fused with family life. By “over” communicating, involving family in the business, maintaining a healthy work-life balance and celebrating shared successes, entrepreneurs can set the stage for a supportive and understanding home environment. This holistic approach not only ensures personal fulfillment but also lays the foundation for sustained professional success. It is through this balance of personal and professional commitments that entrepreneurs can thrive, both at home and in their business ventures.

Related: 15 Ways to Better Manage Your Work-Life Balance as a Parent and Entrepreneur

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