A life-sized business is a company that supports the life you want. A company that requires you to make lots of compromises in the way you live your life is not.
I’ve done it both ways, and can say both have their benefits. When I started my first ad agency, I was fine with letting my life play second fiddle to my business. I was younger, and could pull those 60-hour weeks without too much wear and tear. I didn’t have kids. My parents were healthy and didn’t need any help from their daughters. My husband was very focussed on his career, too. We didn’t even have a dog. I loved those years. I enjoyed the adrenaline of building a successful company from nothing, and being consumed by work I loved.
But after my son was born, I began wanting a different sort of life. I wanted to be around for him. I wanted to see sunlight more often. I wanted to feel healthier. I wanted to be more relaxed. So when I started Tribe, it was with the very clear intent that this business would fit in around my life, instead of vice versa.
Every entrepreneur’s definition of a life-sized business will be different. For most people, in most stages of their lives, it means a business that supports their life balance. It means giving you the sort of flexibility you wouldn’t have working for somebody else. It means having control over your time. It might mean being more involved with your kids. It might mean being able to train for an Ironman, take daily yoga classes or compete in ALTA tennis. It might mean running a sustainable company that gives back to the world. Or it might mean just being able to work with your dog at your feet, instead of leaving him home alone all day.
A life-sized business can also include financial benefits. There’s no reason a business has to be difficult for you to make a lot of money. Besides paying you a good salary, the company can also provide you with all sorts of perks, paid pre-tax dollars. You might want to lease yourself a nice car for business. Or hold your management meetings in a beautiful resort. Or have a healthy lunch brought in every day. I’ve done all those things at Tribe.
Other entrepreneurs care more about the pace than the perks. A public relations firm owner I know turns away some clients, just because she doesn’t want to get big enough to service them. She likes the way her company runs just fine if she goes for coffee with her husband in the mornings instead of rushing into work, or takes Friday afternoons off to ride horses.
It also helps if your company is profitable. You can’t lounge around living a life of leisure if you’re not making the income to support it. That’s not to say you have to work long hours to be successful, although sometimes that’s what it takes. What you have to do is offer something of value to people who can pay for it, and to sell enough of it to make money.
But the best part of a life-sized businesses is loving what you do. If you wake up excited about your day, whether it’s a workday or a weekend, then you’ve got a business that works for your life.