I met with a friend this week who has a job. He’s working on a side project with a friend. They both hope to leave their jobs in the near future to work on this new side project full time.
Both partners in this side project have kids, young families. One of the questions he asked me was around fund raising. Specifically the concern that raising funds from institutional investors or angels may put them in a position where they’re being forced to work more than the 60 to 70 hours they’re currently working. Ultimately the concern being that they’ve seen people lives ripped apart by this.
My response was reasonably simple. Product based businesses can, and likely will, consume you and everything in your life. Services based businesses are a lot of work, products are all consuming. If your personal relationships and your support systems aren’t strong, they will get ripped apart. You can’t blame that on investors or entreprenership.
Now for the good news. If your project does not consume you then you have the wrong project. Drop it and move onto the next one or go ask for your job back. Investors won’t force you to work long hours. If they need to, wrong project, drop it, move on.
I’ve said this before, I don’t believe in the myth of work-life separation. In fact, anyone who brings it up with me, I immediately know they have a job they don’t like. Work-life separation was born of the industrial revolution. You need it to shield that crappy job from your life. Now, full disclosure, I’m drafting this post at 4:21am while you’re cozy in bed. People often use that measure “are you excited to get out of bed and get to work in the morning?”. I use the measure, if you’re sleeping well every night then you may have a job.
My work is my life. My life is my work. I bring all of me to both. Work makes my family stronger, it makes my relationships with my kids stronger, they all feed off each other. The last time I had a corporate gig, my family suffered. That’s just me, I’m not suggesting it’s you.
If you have a great work-life separation today, I’m not advocating you change anything. If, however, you want to work for yourself someday then it’s time to start tearing down that divider. Start by bringing more of you into your work and more of your work home. Don’t worry about losing it or maintaining that barrier, start destroying it. It’s the only chance you have of success out there.