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10 Signs You Are Having Work-Life Balance

10 Signs You Are Having Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a struggle for many people. Yet, this concept is very new.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first known instance of the phrase only dates back to 1977. The dictionary defines the term broadly: “Of or relating to both work and personal life; designating the relationship between the two.”

Today work-life-balance is a common notion and a concept many people pursuit. Find out if you have achieved a work-life-balance here.

1. You have clear priorities for your life

Coming up with clear priorities for your life means that decisions are easier. You know who is most important to you. If you’re struggling with your priorities and values, there are several resources available to help you. I recommend Michael Hyatt’s Creating Your Life Plan ebook.

Your priorities will tend to shift and evolve over time. A newly minted lawyer in his mid 20s may accept working sixty hours per week to build experience while a senior professional often has the confidence, experience and perspective to say no.

2. You say no to others in order to protect your priorities

Saying no at work is an art. If you constantly say no to the management, your reputation will gradually erode (and your chances for better opportunities and promotions will do the same). On the other hand, a thoughtful no demonstrates that you are thinking through your priorities.

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Tip: Do you struggle saying no? There is an excellent list of ideas and suggestions on how to say no in “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less” by Greg Mckeown and in “The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness” by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher.

3. You accept that work-life-balance is not achieved every day

When you think of work-life balance, you may imagine an ideal world where you arrive at home each and every weekday at 6pm (or leave early to pick up your children from school). Unfortunately, you may not be able to achieve this every week.

For example, corporate accounting professionals often experience long hours during the month-end process. If you know that you will face greater than usual work demands at certain times of the year, plan in advance to meet those commitments. Of course, if you have just completed ten straight weeks of sixty hour work then you probably need to reassess your work habits.

4. You know that value is not measured in ‘face time’

Unless your workplace operates based on a billable hour model, simply logging more hours does not create more value. In fact, Parkinson’s Law suggests that adding time to your work day causes you to lose focus. After all, you may think that you can log in “just a few minutes” on Facebook because you can always make up the time later. In fact, you may want to learn How to Use Parkinson’s Law To Your Advantage.

Tip: Work experience, education and specialization are critical factors in attaining a high income. Simply logging more hours at the office, regardless of value, does not matter.

5. You proactively manage energy

Let me ask you two simple questions about your energy and productivity.

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On a scale of 0 to 10, how would you rate your energy and effectiveness at 10am? How does that compare to 4pm? Many people find that their energy and ability to focus gradually declines through the day. There are two work-life implications from that finding.

First, you sleep well and take use of other stress management techniques to keep your energy at a high level. Second, you keep a reserve of energy when you go home. Few spouses and children enjoy spending time with zombies.

6. You work at an organization that values work-life-balance

Some organizations have a better track record in the area of work-life balance than others. Instead of attempting to change the dysfunctional culture of a large organization by yourself, do yourself a favor and work for an organization that values work-life balance. Fortunately, more and more companies are recognizing the importance of work-life balance so you can find good options in many different industries.

Consult these resources for ideas:

7. You exercise several times per week

Some people consider exercise a luxury to be enjoyed and pursued “some time in the future.” If you are living a balanced life, you have understood the importance of getting exercise. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s physical activity guidelines, an effective exercise week includes both aerobic activity (e.g. walking, running, cycling, swimming) and muscle-strengthening activities (e.g. lifting weights and/or body weight exercises).

Without an effective exercise habit, your energy levels will decline and that will impact your ability to work and enjoy life.

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Tip: Learn how to restart your exercise habit with these 15 tips.

8. You plan one enjoyable activity each and every day

Anticipation makes life sweeter and more enjoyable. Growing up, you may have looked forward to your birthday or Christmas for weeks. Happily, you can harness that same power each and every day. It could be something like reading your current book for half an hour, attending a concert, going out with friends, opening the occasional bottle of wine, or watching Star Trek on Netflix (I enjoy all of those activities!).

Without something enjoyable to look forward to, the daily grind becomes much more challenging.

Tip: Go for active leisure activities such as learning a skill or working on a hobby.

9. You use your vacation days to relax, explore hobbies and work on your Bucket List

According to CBS News: “The average American worker is entitled to 16 days of paid leave. But the length of the average vacation lasts just over four days!”

That means 75% of paid vacation time is going to waste. Your paid vacation time is part of your compensation – failing to use it is like setting cash on fire.

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Here are five ideas on how to use vacation time to achieve better work-life-balance:

  • Save up money and finally go for that “bucket list” trip to Europe
  • Use the time to take care of a long neglected household project: painting a room is a simple and effective way to enhance it
  • Take an extended Christmas vacation: Few companies achieve much in the slow days between Christmas and New Year’s Day making it a perfect time for a vacation
  • Go to a play or sports event in the afternoon
  • Take a class or seminar (e.g. wine appreciation) to deepen your appreciation of your interests

10. You use systems to stay focused and productive

Do you have systems and habits to stay productive? That’s one of the best ways to save time so that you leave the office on time each and every day. You can start by creating some professional assets to increase your effectiveness. You can also experiement with different ways (and different times) to commute to the office. In some organizations, you can achieve a great deal before 9am because the office tends to be quiet early in the morning.

Here are two additional resources to enhance your productivity today so you can get your work done and leave the office with a smile on your face

Featured photo credit: Call Operator with Bluetooth Handsfree/VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Published on December 13, 2018

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How to Start a Company from Scratch (A Step-By-Step Guide)

If you’ve ever thought about starting and running your own business, you’re not alone. Being your own boss, having flexibility with your schedule and keeping more of the financial rewards that come with business ownership are all good reasons to own your own company.

But as you might expect, it’s not all vacations and fat bank accounts. According to the SBA, 2/3 of businesses survive at least 2 years and approximately 50% survive 5 years.[1] So why is the failure rate so high? At least for the businesses that fail early on, lack of, or poor planning can be a major factor.

So how to start a company?

Starting a business from scratch doesn’t have to be hard or complicated, but it does take planning and work. Here are the first and most important 9 steps to take when your are starting a company from scratch.

1. Do an Honest Evaluation of Yourself

Do you work better in a structured or unstructured environment? Does a daily routine reduce your anxiety? What kinds of things are you good at? Does public speaking or making presentations make you nervous? Are you good at accounting and numbers? Can you handle the rejections you’re bound to get when selling or cold calling?

These are all important questions to ask yourself, in fact it’s a good idea to get other peoples opinion about their perception of you in each of these situations.

Whatever the answers you come up with for your evaluation, remember that’s all it is, an evaluation of where you are now. Think of it as a way to identify both your areas of strength and weaknesses.

You maybe good at public speaking which can help when raising money, but bad at accounting which just means that you’ll need to find some kind of help with that area of the business.

2. Evaluate Your Idea

If your business idea involves a new product or service (or even an enhancement to an existing product or service), it needs to be evaluated. This is technically called market research.

There are firms that specialize in doing market research for new products, but if you are on a tight budget, you can do this yourself.

First, if you can build a prototype for people to use, touch and look at that’s the best option. If a prototype is not possible or it’s a service business, then offer a highly descriptive presentation of the business plan complete with it’s unique benefits and how it’s different from the competition.

Then listen! Remember that this is not about others liking your product, this is not your baby that they are talking about. You want honest market research that gives you the best chance for a successful business. Take notes, when someone tells you that they didn’t like a feature or some aspect of your idea tell them ‘Thank you”.

After several rounds of market research with different groups of people, you should see patterns emerging about things that they both liked and didn’t like. Use this information to tweak your product or service and do another round of market research.

Keep in mind that you’ll never come up with a universally loved product, your job is to produce a product or service that appeals to the broadest range of your target market.

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3. Make a Business Plan

I know, I know this isn’t the “fun” part of starting your own business, but it is an very important step in creating a successful business!

Basically, you can think of a business plan as an outline or blueprint of your business. A good business plan should have the following elements:

  • Executive Summary – This should lay out the businesses product or service and the problem that it solves for the consumer.
  • Market Evaluation – This should talk about the market you are serving. Is it an expanding market, and how does your product better fulfill the consumers in that market.
  • Market Strategies – How are you going to penetrate the market and sell your product.
  • Operational Plan – How will the company run from day to day? Who are the key employees and what are their specific rolls. Do your key players have specific goals set for them in advance?

A final word on making a business plan: while lying is never acceptable especially when you are using the business plan to raise money, it is acceptable to “put your best foot forward”.

Playing up the positives while minimizing the negatives is almost expected in a business plan.

Besides, banks as well as professional investors will both do a more in-depth analysis before investing any money into your idea.

4. Decide on a Business Structure

You have many options here, and discussing them with your accountant or financial adviser is really the only way to know what’s right for you. But just to give you a quick rundown of the types of business entities and their pros and cons we will briefly go through them:

Sole Proprietorship

This is a common way for small businesses to get started.

The pros being:

Relatively low costs to set up (usually a business license and sales tax license).Owners normally do not have to set up a special bank account, they are allowed to use their personal one. Any income earned can be offset by other losses (check with your state!). You as the sole proprietor have complete control over all decision making. 

Finally, sole proprietorship’s are relative easy to dissolve.

The cons of using a sole proprietorship include:

You as the sole proprietor can be held personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the company. Some benefits, such as health insurance premiums, are not directly deductible from business income.

If you need to raise money, you are not allowed to sell an equity stake in the company. In that same vein, hiring key people maybe more difficult because you cannot offer them an equity stake in the company.

Partnership

A partnership is formed when two or more people decide to start a business. Although there is no legal requirement for any documentation to form a partnership, it is my advice that you never enter into a partnership without having a partnership agreement. (Remember, spending $1500 now can save you $150,000 in legal fees later!).

The pros of a partnership include:

Being relatively easy and inexpensive to start. Hiring key employees can be easier as you are allowed to give equity ownership to as many partners as you want.

For tax purposes, partnerships are relative simple as any income is treated as “pass through” meaning that each partner pays tax on their individual portion of the partnerships income (As of this writing, always check with your tax adviser).

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As far as the cons go:

It can be difficult for some general partnerships to raise capitol. Because it is a partnership, the actions of one of the partners can obligate the entire organisation. All profits must be shared according to the partnership agreement regardless of the amount of work done by any single partner.

Some employee benefits may not be able to be deducted on income tax returns.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This is a very popular business entity for small to medium sized businesses. The reason for this is the cost of set up is not prohibitive and there is a separation between the owners and the company.

The pros of an LLC include:

Limited liability for the partners, unlike sole proprietorship’s and partnerships where the owners are held responsible for all of the companies debts and liabilities, an LLC provides some protection against certain debts and liabilities that are solely the companies.

Simple taxation, just like the sole proprietorship and partnerships, income is considered “pass through” and is only taxed once on an individual level.

There is no limit on the number of shareholders in an LLC. An LLC requires fewer fillings and administrative requirements than a corporation.

Corporation

A corporation is much more complex and expensive to set up. And a corporation is legally considered an independent entity that is separate from its owners.

The pros of a corporation include:

Complete separation between the owners and the company. Because the corporation is considered its own legal entity, owners can not be held personally responsible for any debts or liabilities of the company.

A corporation can raise capital much easier just by selling more shares in the company.

Cons of corporations include:

Much higher administrative costs than any other business entity. Corporations generally have a higher tax rate. Dividends are not tax deductible for corporations. Income paid in dividends is taxed twice, once by the corporation and again by the shareholder.

Again, this is just a short summary of the pros and cons, always check with your tax adviser about what will work best in your situation.

5. Address Finances

Again, not one of the “Sexier” parts of starting your business from scratch, but very important nonetheless.

So, you’ve done your business plan and an estimate of your start up funding should be included. It should include the amount of funding you’ll need to get you through your first full year of operations.

Now, how do you get that money?

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Self Funding

If possible, self funding is the easiest. You won’t have to go to banks and investors with hat in hand, or give up ownership or control of your company. But as we know, this is not a reality for most people. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of options available.

Friends and Family

They can be a good source of funding your business if they can see and understand your vision.

Remember that business plan? Pass them out to everyone you know. Then follow up, be prepared to tell them the total amount of money you expect to raise, the minimum investment you are looking for and what you will give in return for the investment.

For example, you give a friend your business plan and follow up with him/her a few days later. You can explain that you have secured funding for $80,000 of the $100,000 you need. You are selling a 2% share in the company for every $2,000 investment. How many shares would he like?

And when he/she tells you no, thank him/her and ask if he/she can think of anyone off the top of his head who might be interested? Tell him/her you really appreciate his/her time and if he/she does come across someone who might be interested to let you know.

Banks

These guys are happy to lend you money when you don’t need it, but all of the sudden they get stingy when you actually need a loan! This is where preparation comes in.

It’s a good idea to go over your business plan with an expert and maybe even have it rewritten by an expert before you approach either a bank or professional investor. Both will want to go over your business plan with a fine tooth comb, verifying all the numbers and data you provide.

You should also brush up on everything in the plan so that you can answer any questions they have with authority.

Crowdfunding

Finally, there is crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Crowdfunding helps to build interest, community spirit, and a customer base. It’s also an efficient way to raise funds. You can take a look at these tips to find out more:

6 Crowdfunding Tips To Get Your Project 100 Percent Funded

6. Register with the Government

As stated earlier, different types of business entities have different filling and administrative requirements. At the very least, you’ll probably need a business license as well as a state sales tax license.

Unless you are forming a corporation, there are many good resources on the web that will do everything for you at a minimal cost.

7. Assemble Your Team

Remember when we evaluated your strengths and weaknesses? Here is where we fill in the gaps!

Do you hate sales and cold calling? Great! There are people who love selling and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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Bored to death with accounting? There are a ton of small accounting firms out there that will take care of that for you.

What about marketing? You can hire someone in-house or out-source that too.

Your job is to keep on top of all the different aspects of the business to make sure they are all running smoothly and getting the results you need. If not, it’s your job to figure out the problem and implement a solution.

Check out this guide and learn how to delegate effectively:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

8. Buy Insurance

No matter what kind of business you start, you need insurance! Yes, I know, no one likes to buy insurance, but it can literally be the difference between having a minor inconvenience and declaring bankruptcy.

We live in a very litigious time, even a minor slip and fall at your place of business could bankrupt you without insurance. If you need help finding a good agent, check with your local trade organizations or fellow business owners.

9. Start Branding Yourself

Has anyone ever ask you for a Kleenex or a QTip? We all know what they are because of branding, Kleenex is just a brand of tissue and QTip is just a brand of cotton swab. It doesn’t have to be as widely known as Kleenex or QTip, but you can make your brand a common name within your niche.

I once owned a manufacturing company that developed a product that was so popular that my competitors started co-opting my brand name for their products.

If you aren’t sure how to kickstart branding yourself, check out these ways:

5 Ways to Build your Personal Brand & Make More Money

The Bottom Line

Starting a business from scratch can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have.

But do you know what’s even more rewarding? Having a business that succeeds, is profitable and provides a good source of income for you, your employees and their family’s.

More Resources About Entrepreneurship

Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

Reference

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