It has become commonly accepted that entrepreneurs spend more time working after hours than conventional employees who work the standard 9-to-5 job. The fact that the small and medium business sector contributes approximately R530 billion to the South African economy through working beyond the standard business hours - according to a global survey by Sage in 2015 - is proof that entrepreneurs are not afraid to put in the extra hours.
David Morobe, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), says that while such dedication to a business is somewhat inherent to entrepreneurs, they need to strive to strike a balance between work and personal time in order to ensure sustainable success in their business.
The survey revealed that 26% of South African business owners have taken less than five days holiday a year, and 44% have opted to choose their work over family time. “While dedicating large amounts of extra hours to a business can be vital for future success, especially in new businesses, there are also a number of things business owners should be doing after hours that focus on self-development.”
“It all comes down to a good plan and system,” says Morobe, who explains that when running your own business, it is important to strive for an efficient system that can free you up to deal with the unique problems; and not just with the mundane issues which invariably arise daily.
Morobe shares his top five after-hours tips for entrepreneurs and their self-development:
- Clear your mind: Whether it’s a run or walk before or after the work day, or a session at the gym, time spent getting some fresh air or doing some exercise is one of the best remedies for entrepreneurs to maintain balance amid a chaotic business schedule. The human body is not designed to remain inactive for hours on end and by keeping a regular exercise regime, both the mind and body are kept healthy, which ensures entrepreneurs continue to perform at the top of their game.
- No man is an island: Especially true for entrepreneurs, keeping healthy relationships – both personal and professional – is vital to success. Entrepreneurs regularly rely on their networks to build their brand and business and, as such, they need to make a conscious effort to build and maintain these networks – either through social media, regular socialising or professional networking at industry events and talks. There is no limit to the value that networked relationships can bring to the business.
- Stay grounded with family: As highlighted above, family time is often the first thing to be sacrificed when faced with limited available time in a day, when in fact, entrepreneurs need to prioritise this time. At work, an entrepreneur is always having to be “the boss” and the pressures of this role can be overwhelming at times, whereas at home, entrepreneurs have the opportunity to be removed from this role. Family can play a vital role in being an entrepreneur’s rock and their consistent honest feedback is often an underrated asset of an entrepreneur.
- Relax, reflect and read: Entrepreneurs can use the hours after normal business operations have closed for the day to further their self-development, by committing to read at least one chapter or article, on topics outside of their general business interests. These can be books, journals or industry publications, new perspectives or marketing approaches, or different skills like how to use a new software that the entrepreneur wishes to learn.
- Plan and systemise: One of the best ways an entrepreneur can strive for efficiency is to systemise the business as much as possible so as to free up time to deal with the unique problems; and not be tied down with the mundane run of the mill issues which arise on a regular basis and take up an inordinate amount of time. Many entrepreneurs credit their productivity and efficiency in the office to this activity, which to some forms the backbone of their day.
Morobe concludes by pointing to the survey once more, which showed that 77% of small business owners say that working after hours in order to make their business successful is worth it. “In a highly competitive economy where entrepreneurs need to be extra diligent about the time they dedicate to business operations in order to be successful, it is also increasingly important for entrepreneurs to plan their daily routine to incorporate balance, and avoid burn-out.”