Balancing Act: Work-Life Balance Tips for Small Business Owners


As an entrepreneur, it’s nearly impossible not to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of making your small business a success. However, working long hours has downsides that can negatively affect your personal and professional life.

Evidence suggests working long hours may impair your health, jeopardize safety and increase stress, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Better Life Index’s examination of global work-life balance trends. In the United States, 10% of employees put in very long hours of 50 hours or more per week in paid work, according to the organization.

While finding a suitable balance between work and our personal lives is a challenge all of us face, there are many approaches small business owners can take to keep their business running while reducing stress and making time for family and leisure activities.

Why Should I Evaluate My Work-Life Balance?

It’s a simple equation — the more you work, the less time you have for the people and things that matter most. Regularly bowing out of family events, such as birthdays and recitals, can create tension at home, increasing the amount of stress you’re already under. Taking the time to reevaluate your relationship with your small business isn’t just beneficial for your familial relationships and mental health — it can also significantly impact your physical health.

In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) published the first-ever global analysis of loss of life and health associated with working long hours. It estimates that in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart disease as a result of working at least 55 hours per week. The study found that of those individuals, 72% of deaths occurred among males.

The study, which examined survey data in 154 countries from 1970–2018, concluded that working 55 or more hours per week is associated with an estimated 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working what many consider the standard 35–40 hours a week.

What Can I Do To Improve My Work-Life Balance?

As studies show, working long hours can put you at risk for serious health complications. Here are some tips to help you bring your work life and personal life back into balance:

  • Delegate tasks – As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to feel like the success of your small business rests entirely on your shoulders. This feeling may drive you to take on every task, even the minor ones, because you know how to do it quickly and “the right way.” Instead of piling on responsibilities — and increasing the stress you’re under — pick and choose the items that genuinely need your attention and delegate the others to your employees. In a Harvard Business School article, they opine that delegation is an important management skill that empowers employees and boosts morale while freeing up your time so you can focus on high-value activities. Read their article for tips on how to delegate tasks effectively.
  • Set clearly-defined work hours – It can be incredibly tempting to accept that call from an employee or customer while you’re home or away from your company on a personal trip. Regularly taking on work outside of work hours can erode the barriers between your work life and home life. Without a safe place to retreat from the stresses of work, you can make it more difficult for yourself to find relief and even worsen those negative feelings over time. Instead, keep employees informed of your work schedule. They should not contact you outside work hours unless it’s an emergency. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers materials designed to help small business owners manage time effectively so you can make the most of your workday.
  • Make moments for yourself – Do you regularly eat at your desk or skip meals and other necessary breaks to meet deadlines and ensure your business runs smoothly? Going without food and breaks can make you snappish and irritable, compounding the stress and anxiety you’re already feeling. Instead, enjoy your lunch in the breakroom or take it with you on a walk to a nearby park. These small actions can help improve your mood, organize your thoughts and give you the necessary fuel to get through the workday.
  • Be flexible – With the work-from-home shift in the country’s workforce, many employers and employees are realizing the benefits of workplace flexibility. Whether your small business can accommodate you working from home for a relaxing change in scenery, finding flexibility in your work arrangements can help you avoid missing out on important family events.

With these tips, small business owners can establish a healthy work-life balance — reducing stress, rekindling meaningful connections and setting a powerful example for employees and colleagues. For more information and resources designed to meet the unique needs of small business owners, visit