Finding Work-Life Balance as an Entreprenuer

By Mike Fraser

For the past 20 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to manage my own business as a financial advisor.  During this time, I’ve also been lucky to raise my beautiful 27-year-old daughter and my extremely energetic 9-year-old son.  Being an entrepreneur has given me a lot of flexibility in raising my family, and I feel very blessed to have been given that opportunity because, in the blink of an eye, your children go from sitting on your lap and reading books to graduating high school and college. In order to fully enjoy the time with my children from infancy and adulthood while still growing and managing my business, I’ve given a lot of thought to balancing my family life with my work life.

Although there once was a time in my life when the boundaries between home and work were fairly clear, maintaining that work/life balance over time has been quite challenging as technology and my business have evolved.  Being your own boss has many obvious rewards. My passion for what I do and the pleasure I receive from helping people and making a positive difference in their lives makes it so worthwhile. This joy for my work can also be a double-edged sword. It’s easy to get caught in the grind trying to manage deadlines and maintain client satisfaction. Also, since I enjoy what I do so much, I don’t always view it as “work.”  And this can throw the proverbial wrench into my work/life balance.

And the conflict of achieving balance between our work and our family is often exaggerated by our own perceived ideas of being the best at whatever role we’re playing…..for me, that would be the “best financial advisor,” the “best dad,” or the “best husband.”

As an entrepreneur, I mostly get to control my own schedule.  But, I have also been very fortunate to work with Interactive Financial Advisors, a financial advisory firm that understands and promotes a healthy work/life balance. That has been a huge advantage in quelling my anxieties of needing to be everything to everyone at all times.

There is a prevailing quest to find this work/life balance. Over 106 million Google search results on the topic show it’s top-of-mind. But what does it even mean? Wikipedia defines work/life balance as “a concept including proper prioritization between ‘work’ (career and ambition) and ‘lifestyle’ (health, pleasure, leisure, family, and spiritual development/meditation.”


There are consequences to having poor work/life balance.  Fatigue and burnout are at the top of the list.  When you’re tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly are compromised, which could take a toll on your professional reputation or lead to dangerous and costly mistakes.  Are you married to your work?  Not only could this lead to a lot of stress which could impact your health, but it also contributes to lost time with family, friends, and loved ones.  If you’re working too much, you might be missing important family events and milestones, such as birthdays and anniversaries.  This can often leave you feeling left out and might harm your relationships with loved ones down the road.  Working more can also lead to increased expectations.  If you regularly work extra hours, you might be given or take on more responsibility.  Now you are expected to perform at a certain level of productivity week in and week out.


So the big question is: How do we walk the very fine line of work/life balance and be successful at it?

To gauge my own work/life balance, I decided to conduct a little experiment over a two week period by tracking how much time I spent on work tasks versus family tasks.  Unfortunately, I discovered that I was way out of balance…just about 70%/30% and on the wrong side of the curve.  So I went in search of answers for this vexing challenge. And I found a lot of advice online – good and bad.

Worst Advice

  • Best selling book by Tim Ferris, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” repudiates our current society of working grueling hours and take few vacations for the majority of your life in order to save money and relax in retirement. Getting my job done in four hours a week seems pretty unrealistic.
  • Another suggestion was to work at home for the summer. Are they serious? I have a very energetic 9-year-old son home from school during the summer.  I would enjoy a lot of quality time with him, but I would not get any work done!
  • Perhaps the worst advice I found online was, “If you’re going to take the path of an entrepreneur…you have to sacrifice some stuff, which is just unfortunate.” Sometimes, that can actually be true, but the worst part of that advice went on to say that you should focus on growing your business first, and then take care of your family obligations once your business is fully up and running.  Well, no thank you!  I’ve heard of very few people on their deathbeds that wish they had worked harder and longer, but plenty that wish they had spent more time with their family and developing personal relationships.

Useful Advice

  • Begin by scheduling family obligations on your calendar first, things such as family vacations, upcoming school events, and athletic activities. Then schedule your other obligations, like client meetings and appointments, around that family time.
  • Use technology to your advantage. Find apps and programs that help you out with reminders and task organizers that will help you to more effectively use your time.
  • Set goals for time management and hold yourself accountable. Remember, what gets measured also gets done.
  • Make lists. Put family events on a weekly calendar and keep separate daily to-do lists at work and at home.  Without a plan, you can tend to be shooting at a constantly moving target and get too easily sucked into the plans and priorities of others, but having your own plan helps you maintain focus.
  • Be intentional. When you are at work, focus on work.  When you are at home, relax, play, and enjoy spending time with your family, and limit your access to your work phone or laptop.

As long as you’re working, you’re going to be challenged with juggling the demands of your career and your personal life.  After reading and researching, I started putting into practice what I learned and some new ideas. I’ve learned a lot and try to pass along my experiences.


  • Set Limits: One way that you can strike a healthier balance is to set limits. Time is our most precious commodity; you can’t manufacture it, and it’s non-renewable. If you don’t set limits, work or other obligations can leave you with no time for the activities and relationships that you enjoy.
  • Tracking: Learn to track your time and pay attention to your daily tasks, including work-related and personal activities. Decide what’s necessary and what satisfies you the most.
  • Say No: Learn to say no. Whether it’s a co-worker asking you to spearhead an extra project or your child’s teacher asking you to organize a class party, remember that it’s okay to respectfully say “no.”  When you quit accepting tasks out of guilt or a false sense of obligation, you’ll have more time for activities that are more meaningful to you.
  • Boundaries: Leave work at work. With the evolution of technology that allows us to connect with anyone at anytime from virtually anywhere, it makes it even easier to overlook the boundary between work and home, unless you create one.  Make a conscious decision to separate work time from personal time.
  • Schedule in Fun: It’s very important to make time for fun and relaxation, so try to set time aside each day for an activity that you enjoy, such as practicing yoga or reading. Better yet, discover activities that you can do with your spouse or partner, family, or friends, such as hiking, bike riding, or taking cooking classes.
  • Give Back: While it’s important not to over-schedule yourself, you may find that making time to volunteer can contribute to a greater sense of welling, connectedness to your community, sense of accomplishment and work/life balance.


Striking a healthy work/life balance isn’t a one-shot deal.  Creating work/life balance is a continuous process.  As you family, interests, and work life change, you will need to periodically examine your priorities and make changes to ensure you are staying on track.  Work/life balance also does not mean an equal balance between the two areas.  Trying to schedule an equal number of hours for each of your various work and personal activities is usually unrealistic.  Your best individual work/life balance will need to be more fluid and it is likely to vary over time, often on a daily basis.  The right balance for you today will probably be different for you tomorrow or next week.  The right balance for you when you are single will be difference when you are married, when you have children, when you start a new career, or when you are nearing retirement.

There is no perfect, one-size fits all balance that you should be striving for. One of the best measures for determining how effectively we are balancing our work and personal life is to ask our friends and family for truly constructive feedback on an ongoing basis.  Managing work/life balance will be an ongoing process that you will work at throughout your life. Hopefully the lessons learned and experiences shared can help us all along our journey.