Getting A Life

Overdoing It

"This problem of overextending yourself is particularly an issue with entrepreneurs because they're the boss and [the business is] their baby," says Beverly Potter, a Berkeley, California, psychologist specializing in workplace issues. "You need to know when to say no, what to say no to and what to say yes to. That's the critical thing--and the difficult thing."

It certainly is--especially for an entrepreneur with a newly formed business to launch. What do you do when every invitation to a charity fund-raiser reads like a golden opportunity to rub elbows and--not incidentally--do some civic good? "There are so many different organizations," says Williams. "There are so many different causes."

And, unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day. You need to clearly identify those activities that will most benefit your business and most closely adhere to the long-term mission you've set for yourself, stresses Potter. "There's [an idea] that if you work harder and longer, that that's the key to success. Wrong," she says. "The key to success is doing the right thing at the right time. It's doing the key activity that gives you the most mileage."

It's learning, in essence, how to say no when the time calls for it. "You don't have to take every opportunity that comes up," assures Williams, who has since significantly reduced her networking load. "Be as visible as you can--but set those boundaries as early on as possible."

Williams expects her more manageable schedule to allow her to quadruple On Track's 1996 sales of $250,000 this year. Perhaps even better, Williams now has a life again. She takes three-day weekends, works out and enthusiastically watches football games on television. Laughs the recovering networkaholic, "I even know what movies are in the theaters now!"

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This article was originally published in the September 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Getting A Life.

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