How can we balance life and work?

November 25, 2008: 10:21 AM ET

Experts share tips and tricks to prevent work from eating family time.

Claudino Petruccelli, Owner, Petruccelli Pasta, Ridgewood, N.J.
My wife and I are selling our food business. Although we're exhausted emotionally and physically, we want to start another company - but not to the detriment of our three young children. How do successful owners manage their businesses without wrecking their home lives?

By Lenora Chu, Fortune Small Business contributor
Your question addresses an ongoing challenge for most business owners. "As entrepreneurs, we tend to take the world on our shoulders to make our businesses succeed, but success can come at the expense of our personal and family lives," says Jennifer Tyler, co-owner of the Los Angeles branch of OneCoach, a national small-business growth services consultancy. The major difference between entrepreneurs who manage to have it all (or come reasonably close) and those who don't, is how they work, Tyler says.

Start by identifying the tasks that you're naturally good at, Tyler suggests. Leave the chores that don't readily fall within your capabilities to smart, experienced hired hands. They'll produce results in half the time. In other words, delegate. To whom? Your resources can include part-time employees, consultants, or even virtual assistants.

It's also important to maintain a separation between work life and family life, says small-business consultant Doug Williams, based in Vancouver, Wash. Determine how you'll establish and maintain that separation before launching your new business. For example, tell clients they can reach you only during certain hours of the day, and when they do, give them your undivided attention. "It's amazing how much respect you'll get from clients once you set that boundary," Williams says. "Without it, you'll be receiving calls during dinner and on holidays - and families suffer."

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