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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Just how much work brings a business idea to life? Many new business owners today assume unrealistically that no amount of work is enough. Following the initial exuberance of a spark of inspiration, some may see creating and managing their vision from the outset as not full-time job, but an all-time commitment. Life comes first, and when the stress of their own perceived obligations runs a manager down, a small business could stay down with them until their own welfare becomes a priority.

Business owners should manage their priorities wisely. The first such priority is health. Excessive overtime does no favors for either a service-provider or their clients. Sluggish thinking tends to prevail when overwork is the norm. Such thinking leads to mistakes, numbs innovation, and creates apathy. Many a medical resident or air traffic controller has learned this lesson the hard way. No business owner benefits from 12 hours a day hustling for work that may not exist.  Small business owners need to work smart instead of long and this is good advice.

The owner’s commitment should therefore match the realistic scale of the enterprise. Early in the history of a business, the time-commitment may in fact be minimal. A new business owner may in fact need to feel out the scope of demand for their services before planning for a larger, more sophisticated organization.

Often for a brand-new entrepreneur, the most exciting aspects of the business may in fact provide the greatest rewards. In other words, dry planning for infrastructure development may for some hinder rather than help development. Such development may not end up a great fit for the needs of a new business.

Perhaps later, business may grow.  The necessities of a new enterprise may change. A sole proprietor often must direct every function of their enterprise. A larger organization tends to rely on specialists. Any mid-size or large corporation likely has several departments, such as Human Resources, Legal, or Marketing. As a sole proprietor develops their new business, they often must assume each function simultaneously and wear many hats.

The direct needs of the business could more directly impact the proprietor. The more demanding a business becomes, the more carefully we should balance the needs of the business with our own capacity to function in a healthy, productive manner.

A 2012 Slate article, “Bring Back the 40-hour Work Week,” noted that for most of the 20th century, business leaders such as Henry Ford noted the deleterious effects of overwork for their employees, as well as presumably themselves. The current ethos of overwork in many sectors does nothing to improve on these sentiments.

Those who run a business should have a sense of their own proclivities. Consider those habits that may sharpen your senses and increase your enthusiasm, as opposed to those that leave you exhausted and sluggish. For example, some people work best in the mornings, while others need time to adjust and plan their day. Breaktimes and lunch may provide opportunities to get to know your healthiest, most productive, and happiest routine. Additionally, managers should know how to mesh work life with down-time and recreation.

Generally, those who deliver vibrance to their own business creations are fonts of life themselves. Your own inner world dictates the energy you radiate. Self-care and mindfulness about your own well-being colors the life of those within your sphere. Hence, consider the dangers of the cult of overwork, and remember that the management of your own well-being matters as much as management of your business.

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