(From Left to Right: Simona Paige, Jennifer Behar, Laura Paresky Gould)
When you are building a business, the experience can be overwhelming and work life balance is a huge challenge, according to women entrepreneurs who joined me for the Female-Powered Products Panel during Global Entrepreneurship Week at University of Miami. Three women, each who launched innovative companies in the last five years, said their business takes much more time than they ever imagined.
Simona Paige, founded Gourme Mist which sells an olive oil mister, said even when she isn't actually working on business, she's thinking about it. She says the way she finds balance is by staying organized. "Wearing every hat is difficult. Sometimes you have to delegate. You also have to make sure you aren't growing too quickly. It's about knowing your end goal and how to get there."
Simona also feels being entrepreneur and finding balance is about riding the tide. "Sometimes I'm on all the time, working to midnight, it doesn't stop. Sometimes it's a little slower.
Jennifer Behar founded Jennifer's Homemade, which sells all natural bread sticks and flatbread to large grocery chains and gourmet shops. She said, "When you are working at building a business, you're operating at a very high adrenaline level, but you can't do it forever. You have to find balance because it's easy to lose yourself."
In Jennifer's case, she took a step back when she realized her life had become too much about business. "I take an hour for myself to exercise. If I'm not healthy, it isn't good for my family or my business." A single mom, Jennifer says her daughter has a desk at her workplace where she does her homework after school. "When you start a business, you have to make sure you are all in."
Laura Paresky Gould started Alphabet Goods, which sells personalized products for kids from its website, alphabetplates.com. Her big advantage is no overhead -- she works from home and doesn't have inventory. Her adorable products, such as personalized placemats, feature words in many languages, giving her a worldwide customer base. Laura says balance is a big issue for her. She's trying to do most of her business tasks while her kids are at school or at night from 8 to 11 p.m. "Success for me is a balance of business and spending time with my kids."
During the "Questions From The Audience" part of our discussion, one woman noted that she was an entrepreneur who burned out. She ran a business for six years, put in seven days a week, and never took a day off. She sold her business for $1 million but says she was so stressed when she sold that she has done nothing for the last two years.
Her message rang clear: there is a point which is crossed when the thing you are most passionate about becomes an addiction. To be truly successful, you have to take time off from work to gain clarity.
If you are an entrepreneur, what techniques do you find useful for adding more balance?