Some entrepreneurs seek to act almost as a personification of their business – think how Bill Gates is synonymous with Microsoft, how Steve Jobs embodied Apple, and how Elon Musk’s own persona is inherently interlinked with Tesla and The Boring Company.
While the above examples are undeniably successful – and it is highly likely that the blend of person and business helped to contribute to their success and media profile – for most entrepreneurs, a blurring of their individual, personal self with their business self is far from ideal. As more and more entrepreneurs begin to recognise the inherent need for a work-life balance, entrepreneurs are now seeking to create a firm dividing line between the two sides of themselves. For entrepreneurs who are ‘the face’ of their own personal brand this can be a real tricky situation. Here’s a guide to maintaining your sense of self (and sanity) as an entrepreneur…
If you have previously felt that you and your business are becoming intertwined to the point your professional life is transgressing on your personal life, there are a few simple changes that can help to create the distinction you need…
1 – Set a rigid schedule of “business” and “personal” hours
Modern technology has allowed us to be more connected than ever before, but this connectivity is responsible for some of the most concerning blurs between personal and professional lives. If you’re watching TV in the evening and your phone beeps with a business-related notification, it’s all too easy to just quickly reply, even though you’re technically supposed to be relaxing. Before you know it, you may find yourself answering work calls during social engagements or replying to emails on holiday – and every time you use personal time for business purposes, the line between “business you” and “work you” becomes a little less clear. Even as a blogger/ influencer it is imperative to separate your time to carve out much needed “offline time”.
The only way to confront this issue is to tackle it head-on; set strict rules for what is considered “business time” and “personal time”, and stick to them come what may. Set up out of office replies, voicemail messages, and away messages for texts to ensure your customers or clients are kept in the loop but, these methods aside, your personal time should always remain precisely that.
(Image: When it’s windy and you have big hair.)
2 – Obscure your personal details
Sometimes, separating your personal and business lives is more theoretical – a change in mindset or the way you approach business tasks, as we will soon discuss in more depth. However, sometimes the much-needed separation is very literal, and your personal details are a perfect example of this.
When starting a business, many entrepreneurs are working on a shoestring budget, which can lead to some compromises having to be made. One of the most common of these compromises is a blurring of personal and private details; for example, entrepreneurs have to list their personal address or telephone number as the business’ address or telephone number for early correspondence purposes. While many entrepreneurs understand that such a decision is less than ideal in terms of data security, the lack of choice dictates that needs must for the moment.
While the decision to provide your personal details as business details is understandable at the start of your business journey, it’s something that you’ll want to rectify as soon as possible – even if your business primarily operates from your home. There are a variety of ways you can do this, but using a virtual address and purchasing a cheap mobile phone and pay-as-you-go SIM card are the most cost-effective choices. With these in place, you can ensure that your personal details are truly personal, rather than shared in public, business-related spaces.
3 – Be wary of accepting praise for your business
On first inspection, the idea of being wary about accepting praise for your business sounds incredibly strange. Surely, praise is good, and you should revel in it, and use that praise to bolster your confidence for the future?
While there is something to be said for allowing yourself to bask in praise for the way your business operates, or the benefits your goods or services can provide, taking this praise personally – as an affirmation of yourself – can have extremely harmful consequences. If you enjoy a sense of personal satisfaction when your business is praised, then it naturally follows that you will experience a personal sense of upset when your business is criticised – which will inevitably happen. Many businesses owners are naturally delighted by praise, but criticism and complaints can hit them hard; the two are inextricably linked.
It’s therefore best to try and see praise and criticism as two sides of the same coin, and that coin is a reflection of your business rather than you as a person or entrepreneur. Wherever possible, it’s helpful to try and see praise through the lens of your business; if your business receives a glowing review from a customer, remind yourself the individual entity that is your business is the subject of the praise. While this can feel like you are denying yourself a sense of personal pleasure in the moment, you’ll thank yourself for this established emotional separation the next time your business receives a scathing review.
On a final note, some entrepreneurs treat their business like their “baby” – which is often thought to be a sign of an entrepreneur who is over-involved, or somehow too emotionally attached to their company. However, treating your business like a baby in literal terms is actually beneficial; babies are a reflection of their parents, but they are still their own unique little personality. If you can see your business in these terms – as something related to you, but not you exactly – then you should be able to benefit from a sense of emotional separation that will significantly benefit you throughout the course of your business career.
In conclusion: Running a business is a huge task, and one that places significant demands on you personally as the entrepreneur. However, separating your individual, personal identity from your business is crucial both for your personal safety and your sense of well-being. Hopefully, the tips above will allow your business to continue to flourish, but without infringing on your own sense of self.
“And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” -Steve Jobs