Many people leave the corporate ranks in order to start their own business with visions of grandeur and unlimited free time in their heads. Yet, anyone who runs a successful business that doesn’t fall into that horrible failure rate knows that it takes a big time Entrepreneurial Trapinvestment to get things up, running, and sustainable. Even if you go the Tim Ferriss route of efficiency and minimum work time, you still need to actively and consciously create what you want. Even he admits he didn’t start out working four hours a week.

In the July 30 issue of Time Magazine, the author explores this very question: “You quit the corporate rat race for your own shop. But how do you stop running?”

With only 1 in 5 new businesses around after five years, the pressure is great to panic and throw all your efforts into the many demands of running a business. As a result, many business owners find themselves working exponentially more than they did when they were in the corporate rat race. Instead of being paranoid about the axe falling at work they go paranoid about prospects and revenue drying up or never showing up in the first place. Now that sort of defeats the whole purpose of breaking free, doesn’t it?

And in my personal opinion I think the fact that people devote 110% of their efforts to the exclusion of their own self-care and personal life in the first few years is part of the reason the businesses actually fail. It just isn’t sustainable. You wouldn’t think of running your car full out for years on end without maintenance and down time would you? Well, our bodies, minds, and spirits need a lot more tending to than a car, so you can imagine how this workaholic frenzy plays out…

In the Time article, David Newton, professor of entrepreneurial finance at Westmont College in Santa Barbara says:

“The hardest thing for entrepreneurs to do is to set parameters. They feel so vested that their venture becomes a direct reflection of who they are, and anything short of wild success is perceived as a character flaw.”

As a coach I see red flags waving whenever I hear statements like “character flaw” or “identity”. If your entire sense of identity is wrapped up in your career whether entrepreneurial or corporate, you are in trouble. We are more than our jobs, people! It is only one role, one aspect of who you are and it is very important to keep this perspective at all stages of your career. Once you adopt this mindset it becomes easier to set parameters. It isn’t always easy to enforce them when something crops up, but if you stay focused on your commitment to yourself and your business success you start to come from a place where your career feeds your life and vice versa.


Paula Gregorowicz is the Comfortable in Your Own Skin(tm) Coach and you can learn more at her website and blog .