A successful corporate executive was exploring my consulting to him as he moved from the C suite into his own high-end consulting practice. He had lots of the right qualifications: expertise in a thriving market, a good network, the ability to close a deal.
As he would be foregoing his salary, and supported a family, I asked what his wife thought of this new adventure.
“She’s supportive,” he said.
“How so?” I asked.
“Well, I spend a lot of time both working and commuting, and, with the kids still in elementary school, she thinks I may have more time to be at home. So she likes that idea.”
I must admit I sputtered a bit. Unlike some of my clients, this man had never headed up a start-up venture, although he had some knowledge of how they worked. So he actually hoped his new practice would ease some of his time constraints (entrepreneurs building their start-ups never think this).
Maybe. But not likely in the first years — at least the first 3 years, is my guess. That’s a minimum time to establish any new practice (or start-up company).
And there are other ways of “not being home.” Your kids are telling you over dinner about their field trip, and you are checking your phone for an email from that client who was supposed to phone today and didn’t (and did not send an excuse either). Or your wife tells you some major repair is needed, and your Payables are not up to date, and cash has become tight, even if pending Receivables are fine. So you are not listening well.
Or, the newness of being in “freefall” — well paid but with no secure revenue flow or yet-solid pipeline — has you distracted and thinking about the business every minute, leaving no real focus on the family or the non-business parts of your life.
Of course this can be controlled. You can set boundaries on working weekends, and stick to it. You can choose to do more networking and prospecting during the day (breakfasts, lunches, daytime group networking meetings) and be home most evenings. In fact, you can learn to control your involvement and focus, but that takes guidance and time.
But you must assume that your human nature will propel you, for all good reasons, to become somewhat obsessive if you are beginning to build your practice. And, you should make certain your life-partners (mates, spouses, kids and other family members) are truly on-board with your new direction. Remember that they will take up the slack as you venture forth, in all the tasks you abandon, as well as in their aloneness while you are gone (physically or emotionally). Real support, like real balance, is more difficult to obtain than you may first think, and takes training and practice and a willingness to find it.