Advice for business owners, from business owners, on how to succeed at work – and still have a life outside of it.
You stay late at the office, take your laptop to bed, and check your mobile constantly. You struggle to juggle the sometimes competing requirements of your business, staff and family. Your “to do” list grows by the hour. Does this sound like your typical week?
If you answered yes, your work-life balance is seriously out of whack.
And you’re not alone – the OECD’s latest Better Life Index shows that New Zealand is well below the average in overall work-life balance. In fact, we come in at a lowly 24th out of the 34 member nations. We have less leisure time and work far longer hours than those in many other parts of the world.
Here, the directors of two Kiwi companies share their hard won wisdom on how to achieve a better work-life balance.
Lindsay Breen, Managing Director, Breen Construction
Lindsay Breen runs Breen Construction, the award-winning South Island building company founded by his grandfather 75 years ago. He oversees more than 100 FTE employees. His advice:
Consider your personal needs as well as the demands of your business
It’s taken me a long time to figure out what works for me and for the company. Now, weekends are family time, with lots of kids’ sports and outdoor activities.
I grew up around this company, so I’m always thinking about what’s best for Breen, and I can do that even when I’m playing cricket or watching my wife barrel racing at rodeos.
Enjoy your work
You don’t have to love it every day, because that’s not realistic, but you should want to be there almost every day. What we do is a serious business, but we also make sure to have some fun.
Employ the right people
Then allow them to do a good job. I work 45-50 hours a week, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but with the right people in the company it’s enough.
Develop a good company culture
Part of the commitment we make as a company is being a great place to work. A genuine balance between work and family is really important for every member of staff.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff” isn’t true. The small things definitely count, but don’t let them take up too much of your time and distract you from seeing the big picture.
Sofia Ambler, Director, Heletranz
Auckland-based helicopter company Heletranz offers scenic flights and experiences, along with commercial services. Sofia Ambler and her husband John bought the business 2 years ago, and currently employ 2 pilots and 2 concierges. Sofia’s suggestions:
I used to be in fund management in Hong Kong; when you’re running your own business it takes a while to understand that you can delegate, and focus your own efforts where they add the most value.
Embrace a flexible schedule
I work around 50 hours a week, including evenings and weekends, and I need to be contactable by phone 24/7. The flip side of this is that I can tailor my day to spend time with the kids and help out at school. We always eat dinner together as a family.
Work more efficiently
I sometimes work from home, because I’ve found that the lack of office distractions keeps me 100% focused on the tasks I need to achieve for the day.
Build a network of reliable suppliers
The ones who know your business and how you operate create a true partnership where you can both succeed. With suppliers you can trust, there’s that much less for you to worry about.
Take time out
I go to the beach in any weather – for me, nothing is as relaxing. I keep my trainers in the car, because even a brisk walk provides an effective mental break. When you’re running a company, you need to recharge and reinvigorate yourself regularly.
More advice on managing a work-life balance for yourself and your employees.