The best ways to maintain work-life balance with starting a startup or small business?


Starting a business can take many forms, and not every way is best for every entrepreneur/industry/situation. We've gathered together an ever-growing list of entrepreneurs, and they have agreed to share how they maintain a work-life balance while pursuing a startup or small business.

Scale Work-Life With Your Business

Michele Smith - Better Possibilities

"There are a number of recommendations for keeping the work-life scales balanced. You most likely already have a lot on your plate, so here are just a few to get you started: Set Achievable Milestones that support your larger goals: Big dreams start with small, realistic steps. Break down that grand vision into manageable goals. Celebrate each milestone; it’s about the journey, not just the destination. This will keep you motivated. Prioritize Prioritize Prioritize: Every to do isn't a five-alarm fire. Identify what truly moves the needle and give it your all. Remember, effectiveness over busyness. Start with a solid foundation and work your way up. Non-Negotiable Downtime: Schedule time for you like you would any crucial meeting. A walk, a coffee break, a laugh with friends – this isn't slacking, it’s recharging the batteries for your next big leap! Even five minutes to breathe can make all the difference. Keep it balanced, keep it moving. Here's to building your dreams without burning out along the way!"

Build Flexibility Into Schedule

Erin Khan - Erin Khan Consulting

"One of the best ways to maintain work-life balance with starting a small business I've found is to build flexibility into your schedule, while also know when to stay rigid with certain time commitments. Using smart calendar scheduling solutions as well has been tremendously impactful will blocking out specific times for meet and greets, deep work, and personal time."

Work-Life Integration

Betsy Wuebker - Passing Thru

"I don't believe in work-life balance per se. Instead, I advocate work-life integration. When you consider work as something you do and transition it away from somewhere you go, you can incorporate all of the functions of your business irrespective of location and time. This is the freedom entrepreneurs idealize, and it can be reality."

Focus On Sleep

Darryl Lyons - Pax Financial Group

"The best way to maintain work-life balance is to focus on sleep. I know it sounds odd, but everything vibrant rests and your best creativity will come when well rested. Distractions and anxiety inhibit creative growth, so you can overcome this by focusing on the quality and time of sleep."

Clear Boundaries

Julie Griggs - Fourplay Social

"Set clear boundaries for yourself and HONOR THEM. There will always be things on the to-do list, there will always be emails to answers, and meetings to schedule, and most of it really can wait. If you can't take care of yourself and maintain a work-life balance, you will absolutely not be able to run a business successfully."

Review & Audit Your Life

Diana Chaloux-LaCerte - Hitch Fit

"Life will rarely be in complete balance, so you'll want to consistently review and audit the health of your business, your relationships, your health, your faith, and your finances. You don't want any of these areas to become "empty", so you will need to regularly shift your focus so that you can sustain a healthy level of "fullness" in each of these buckets of your life."

Be Ruthless

Erica Buyalos - Blue Planet Optics

"Ruthlessly eliminate what you don't *need* to do. There will always be things looking to eat up your time. Be ruthless in narrowing down your to-do list, and your days will feel so much more productive."

The Art of Prioritization

Ethan Berg - Agora World

"Achieving work-life balance when starting a startup or small business hinges on mastering the art of prioritization, recognizing that your time is a finite resource that must be allocated according to evolving demands and goals. It's about accepting that balance is not a static state but more like a pendulum, where some weeks will require a a business-focus, while others allow you to prioritize your personal life. The key is to remain flexible, setting clear boundaries when necessary and being willing to reassess and adjust these boundaries as your personal circumstances evolve. Ultimately, the balance is achieved over time through a consistent, mindful approach to prioritization, ensuring that neither work nor life consistently overshadows the other."

Get Into A Rhythm

Scott Beebe - Business On Purpose

"Balance is a myth...a better aim for chaotic owners is the idea of a rhythm in life. Rhythms tend to speed up and slow down throughout various seasons of life. Business owners perpetually live in the midst of persistent chaos; they are in desperate need of manufactured boundaries because boundaries bring freedom. A simple ideal weekly schedule can create an artificial set of boundaries that provide rhythms of freedom in the midst of chaos."

Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

Benoy Tamang - Tech CEO Coach

"While work-life balance is elusive, I believe what helped my sanity was to focus on "choice-management" rather than "time-management". And the most important choice I made was to get myself healthy first before business or even family. This meant that I had to sleep 8 hours, exercise, eat healthy, have a social life and make sure I was on top of my medical/dental maintenance. It's like putting on the oxygen mask first. It allows you clarity to tackle the startup life with strength and energy and from the front, instead of allows being reactive, putting out fires, and having less balance."

Block Out Time

Pincus Schiff - Friday App

"It might be controversial, but i believe in the beginning there is no work-life balance. As your company grows, slowly start blocking out times that you are outside of your business."

Not-To-Do List

Kolby Goodman - Best First Now

"While we all have a never-ending list of to-dos, I find the best back to maintain work-life balance and overall sanity in starting a business is developing a Not To-Do list. What are the things that need to be done in your business that you: don't have the time, don't have the expertise, don't have the desire, or and your time are too valuable to do. This allows you to hyper focus on the important opportunities and ensure all those important tasks are taken care of by someone else."

Focus On Prioritization

Farmon Akmalov - Milkyway Delivery

"Our startup is a year old and we have 4 co-founders and 2 external developers in our team. The prioritization is a pivotal strategy for maintaining a work-life balance and in navigating the demanding landscape of building a software company. I concentrated on identifying and focusing on the core activities that truly added unique value to our startup and drove growth. Focusing on prioritization and delegating other tasks to my co-founders allowed me to manage my time more efficiently, ensuring that both professional and personal lives received the attention they deserved. Moreover, building a culture of flexibility within our team was instrumental. By encouraging open communication and providing options for remote work or flexible hours, we were able to harmonize productivity with individual needs!" 


Find Some Else Who Is In "The Grind"

Dan Rodman - CoUnity

"A nice tip for this is to find someone who is also in "the grind". Just meeting up at coffee shops and being in proximity to each other while working can help you motivate each other. Then being strong-willed to schedule downtime. You need to make sure you pull yourself away for short periods to reflect and recharge. Otherwise, you will be thinking too much about work in the back of your head even when you are with your loved ones which isn't fair to them. You will come back much more effective!" 


Delegation & Trust

Eric Watkins - Abstrakt MG

"Achieving work-life balance has been a challenge as I've moved up through the ranks of Abstrakt. If I have to narrow it down, delegation and trust have been game-changers. We introduced regular inter department meetings and transparent dashboards (even one that gives every team member, team, and department their own A-player score), which kept us aligned and accountable. Most importantly, trusting our team, from managers to coworkers, allowed us to step back when needed, focus on bigger things, and strike the elusive balance between work and life." 


Rely On Your Calendar

Austin McCulloh - Reply Assist

"Rely heavily on your calendar to time block both work AND personal events. Many entrepreneurs/business owners often feel overwhelmed because they don't know where all of their time is going. So time blocking has been immensely beneficial & calming for me in the business world because I can SEE where every minute of my day is being spent. Plus, when you time block, you ensure that you don't "double book" tasks/events. For example, let's say you want to go to a baseball game with friends this Friday evening, and the game starts at 7:00pm. If you know that: 1. You want to arrive 30-minutes early, 1. Traveling to the game & back home is 2 total hours, and 3. The game itself lasts 3.5 hours, you can block off 6 straight hours for this event. So, from 5:30pm to 11:30pm, you shouldn't have any open availability for work. This 6-hour time slot is now allotted as your personal time. Don't be afraid to play around with both your work and personal time blocks, too. I'm about 5 years into heavily relying on my calendar to manage my entire life schedule, and yet I still adjust the hours of when I'm working vs. not working on a weekly basis. The more you experiment, the more likely you are to find the best schedule for you! Tip: In your calendar, make your personal time blocks a different color from your work time blocks. For example, I make work time blocks black and personal time blocks blue. This allows me to SEE when I'm working vs. when I am not." 


Adaptability, Flexibility, and Resourcefulness

Juana Sky - Work Flora

"As a struggling startup owner, maintaining work-life balance has been a constant challenge. However, I've learned that adaptability, flexibility, and resourcefulness are key. One effective way is to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life, even if it means working odd hours to accommodate both. Additionally, leveraging technology and automation tools on a tight budget has helped streamline tasks and save time. Above all, finding small pockets of time for self-care and relaxation is crucial to prevent burnout, even if it means stealing moments during lunch breaks or late at night." 


Invest In Yourself

Shadi Atassi - Milonga

"Running a startup is demanding, but I've found that making time for non-work activities like exercise and mindfulness practices is crucial for my overall well-being. These aren't just breaks for me; they're investments in my physical and mental resilience that make me a more effective entrepreneur. Just like I schedule important business meetings or deadlines, I make sure to block out specific times in my calendar for these healthy activities. This approach helps me maintain a more balanced life, contributing to both my personal happiness and professional success." 


Don't Quit Your Day Job

Vinny Williams - Address Me

"Don’t quit your day job. You never know how long your journey will be before you’re invested in or making sufficient income with your startup to justify not working. Structure your weekly meetings where you’ll have meeting days and also days free from meetings throughout the week to focus on the things you enjoy uninterrupted. Enjoy the journey and try not to stress about the destination." 


Take Care Of Your Team

Brett Story - Brite Horn

"I have been able to strike a great work-life balance by surrounding myself with partners who share my values and my vision for our business. High achieving business owners can often be tempted to go at it alone by wearing many different hats - and in some cases this is absolutely necessary. However, our business broke through a plateau 5 years ago when we all learned to really trust each other which brought more business success and, equally importantly, more balance to our personal lives." 


Take Care Of Your Team

Matthew Tompkins - Curiate

"I am not a good example of work life balance. I work until I can’t, but for my team, I make sure to incorporate no communication days, no work days, and I do not give big projects with deadlines on Monday. For team morale, I continuously remind our team to understand that the struggles will come so that the emotional quotient of everyone is prepared to endure the whole process. Being super encouraging always helps too. Being of service to your team really helps them to be most productive." 


Set Clear Boundaries

Chuck Leblo - Interact One

"At Interact One, we've found that the key to work-life balance when launching a startup or managing a small business is setting clear boundaries. It's essential to prioritize tasks, delegate when needed, and always allocate time for yourself and loved ones. Remember, a well-balanced entrepreneur leads to a thriving business." 


Know Your Limits

Andrew Denton - Join Prosper

"Understand what you can accomplish and what you can't. If you are overworked, you will become over stressed and unable to effectively accomplish the tasks you need to accomplish. Find ways to cut back, leverage the human capital of your team to take on responsibilities so you can focus on what you do best. If everyone is overworked and stressed out, probably a good time to bring on additional help, or raise prices." 


Schedule Time In Your Calendar

Julian Harris - Lonely At The Top

"One of the best ways to maintain work-life balance is to schedule time in your calendar for lunch (yes, really!), exercise, time to think (or “white space”, as I call it). Once scheduled, you’ve got to ruthlessly protect those boundaries. Unless it’s an emergency, do not let anyone schedule something in your calendar for when you’ve blocked it out. I see this happen so often! Learn how to say ‘no’ to your team. Your time is your most precious commodity and so you need to use it in a way which is going to serve you most effectively." 


Always More Fires

Devin Miller - Leading To You

"Each day you go into the office there are fires to put out. Many days you can't put out all the fires before the end of the day. For the days you can't put out all the fires, realized that most of those fires will still be there tomorrow for you to put out. Put out as many fires as you can each day and then at the end of the day go home and enjoy your life/spouse/family."