Small-business Owners Struggle With ‘Work-Life Balance’


Small-business Owners Struggle With ‘Work-Life Balance’

January 9, 2006

Small-business owners daily walk a fine line dividing their time between the demands of work and personal life. Often times, work wins out.

From paying the bills to managing employees, the daily operations of running a business can be overwhelming.

“So many small-business owners get caught in the ‘as soon as’ trap,” said Jim Bird, CEO of in Atlanta.

They think “‘as soon as I finish up this order, or as soon as I wrap up this client’s work, then I’ll take some time for myself,’ ” he said. “And they never escape that because there’s always something else.” A former small-business owner, Bird now consults with businesses nationwide on the importance of achieving a work-life balance.

At the end of a long day “the entrepreneur or small-business owner, they don’t have anyone to pat themselves on the back,” he said.

The responsibility falls on them to reaffirm their work and acknowledge their personal achievements — even if it was just getting through the day.

Work-life balance, Bird explained, is the fusion of achievement and enjoyment. It’s accomplishing your goals, and still finding time to enjoy the process. A key to that is taking time for yourself.

“If you don’t take that time, you get stressed. You get irritable,” Bird said. “You become a pain I to be around.” But efforts to achieve a steady work-life balance are further complicated when the owner is also the sole employee.

“Work-life balance is keeping my work life separate,” said Jamie Becker, owner of Guardian Nannies LLC in Tucson. It’s “having some down time, but making sure my business is growing and my customers are happy.” In the summer of 2004, the 26-year old Becker started the nanny recruitment and referral service with then-business partner Elizabeth Pearson.

The additional body helped to distribute the workload, which was especially helpful in the business’ startup phase, Becker said.

But the arrangement wasn’t permanent and, after graduating from college, Pearson left to pursue another career.

As the owner and manager, Becker coordinates schedules for about 20 nannies in temporary positions. Monthly, she also facilitates the placement of a permanent nanny for an average of seven families.

Those responsibilities are in addition to her roles as the company’s human-resources director, marketing manager and customer service representative.

Payroll administration, however, is outsourced and she rents space in an office building at 5151 E. Broadway. Employees there take messages and handle reception duties, while the building provides her with space to meet with families.

“I’m pretty much the only person running the business,” Becker said, though she added she’s planning on hiring more help this year and may outsource more administrative functions.

Though the concept of work-life balance appears self-explanatory, there is no across-the-board definition of what it means to the small-business owner.

“It is to each his own,” said business and life coach Cheryl Vallejos of Tucson. “It really depends on the client and what’s going to be the best for them.” Consultants generally express work-life balance as the point at which an individual achieves his own highest level of satisfaction in several aspects of life.

In her work with clients, Vallejos uses the image of a wheel where the spokes are represented by eight different areas including work, family, friends, personal enrichment, and health.

If one area, or spoke, doesn’t rate as high as the others, the uneven shape of the wheel throws the whole balance off.

There’s typically a process involved in setting that balance right, and both Vallejos and Bird suggest starting with a serious examination of the areas in your life most important to you and prioritizing your time accordingly.

Becker is pretty certain what those areas are to her — family, friends, her puppy and her, she says.

“I think I’m able to keep a pretty good balance,” she added. “I don’t stress about it on a daily basis. It usually seems to work out in the end.”


We hope you found this article about “Small-business Owners Struggle With ‘Work-Life Balance’” helpful.  If you have questions or need expert tax or family office advice that’s refreshingly objective (we never sell investments), please contact us or visit our Family office page  or our website at  Unfortunately, we no longer give advice to other tax professionals gratis.

To receive our free newsletter, contact us here.

Subscribe our YouTube Channel for more updates.

Alan Olsen, CPA

Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of  GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.


Alan L. Olsen, CPA, Wikipedia Bio is a proud sponsor of The American Dreams Show.



The American Dreams show was the brainchild of Alan Olsen, CPA, MBA. It was originally created to fill a specific need; often inexperienced entrepreneurs lacked basic information about raising capital and how to successfully start a business.

Alan sincerely wanted to respond to the many requests from aspiring entrepreneurs asking for the information and introductions they needed. But he had to find a way to help in which his venture capital clients and friends would not mind.

The American Dreams show became the solution, first as a radio show and now with YouTube videos as well. Always respectful of interview guest’s time, he’s able to give access to individuals information and inspiration previously inaccessible to the first-time entrepreneurs who need it most.

They can listen to venture capitalists and successful business people explain first-hand, how they got to where they are, how to start a company, how to overcome challenges, how they see the future evolving, opportunities, work-life balance and so much more..

American Dreams discusses many topics from some of the world’s most successful individuals about their secrets to life’s success. Topics from guest have included:

Creating purpose in life / Building a foundation for their life / Solving problems / Finding fulfillment through philanthropy and service / Becoming self-reliant / Enhancing effective leadership / Balancing family and work…

Untitled_Artwork copy 4 (Also sponsored by GROCO) provides free access to content and world-class entrepreneurs, influencers and thought leaders’ personal success stories. To help you find your path in life to true, sustainable success & happiness.  It’s mission statement:

In an increasingly complex and difficult world, we hope to help you find your personal path in life and build a strong foundation by learning how others found success and happiness. True and sustainable success and happiness are different for each one of us but possible, often despite significant challenges.

Our mission at is to provide resources and firsthand accounts of how others found their paths in life, so you can do the same.

Posted in
Heroes and Horses veteran care

Heroes and Horses: Challenging the Status Quo of Veteran Care

Introduction: In this interview, Alan Olsen, CPA and featured guest Micah Fink discuss how Horses and Heroes use horses to aid veteran care and much more. Transcript: Alan Olsen Welcome to American Dreams. My guest today is Micah Fink, CEO and founder of Heroes and Horses. Micah, welcome to today’s show. Micah Fink Alan, thank…

Balancing IPOs, Ledgers & Fatherhood, A Moment with Travis Combs

Balancing IPOs, Ledgers & Fatherhood, A Moment with Travis Combs

Introduction: Two dad’s discussing life balance in the hectic world of IPOs with featured guest, Travis Combs, Managing Director at the Effectus Group. In this interview, Alan Olsen, CPA, MBA and Travis address family, faith, career, client’s best interest, and trying to strike a balance. Transcript: Alan Olsen Welcome to American Dreams. My guest today is…

A Deep Dive into Investment Banking and Philanthropy with Michael Bennett

A Deep Dive into Investment Banking and Philanthropy with Michael Bennett

Introduction: A candid discussion about investment banking and philanthropy with Mike Bennett, Managing Partner of Crewe Capital. In this interview, Alan Olsen, CPA, MBA and Mr. Bennett open a window into his Crewe Capital‘s early beginnings the connection between investment banking and philanthropy. Transcript: Alan Olsen  0:01 Welcome to American Dreams. My guest today is…

Teaching Business Success with Dr. Frumi Rachel Barr

Teaching Business Success with Dr. Frumi Rachel Barr

Introduction (teaching business success at Barr Business School) In this interview, Alan Olsen, CPA, MBA discusses teaching business success with Dr. Frumi Rachel Barr. Dr. Frumi Rachel Barr is the Founder and Chief Mentor at the Barr Business School. Transcript: Alan Olsen Hi, this is Alan Olsen and welcome to American Dreams. My guest today is…