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The Delicate Balance of Work and Family

Don't go walking out onto that start-up tightrope without the support of loved ones to steer you in the right direction.

With another holiday season behind us, many of you will be jumping back into your start-up plans-jotting down brainstormed ideas on a cocktail napkin, making phone calls, hitting the streets in search of potential customers. This is a good time to do it, before the January blahs have a chance to set in and suck away all your creative energy. At the same time, this is also the perfect time to remember the time you just spent with friends and family over the holidays-because whether or not you realize it, you're about to have a tremendous impact on their lives.

When you're starting a business, you put much thought into things like raising money, locating a target market, creating a marketing campaign and a business plan and talking with advisors. In that shuffle, friends and family sometimes get forgotten, when in fact they really should be at the top of your list of concerns. Your friends and family are going to be greatly impacted by your new business, regardless of whether they're directly involved-i.e., lending you money-or whether they're simply offering you moral support. As such, they deserve as much attention as that business plan you're laboring over.

That doesn't mean you have to tell them everything that's going on in your business, and of course you'll take greater care with the people you see every day (such as your spouse) than those you only see over the holidays (such as Great Aunt Mildred). The idea is simply to discuss your impending plans with the people you're close to and involve them in an appropriate way. If you know your Dad offers good advice, tell him about your idea-he might have some valuable insights. If you know your Mom likes to call you every Saturday morning and that's the one time you've set aside to work on that big investor presentation coming up, tell her about it rather than hurrying her along when she does call. Above all, take the time to explain to your loved ones that even though you won't have as much time to devote to them as you start and grow your business, you still love them and need their support.

Throughout your life as an entrepreneur, time won't be on your side very much. There will be days when you're working into the night, wondering what you're doing, cursing yourself for giving up that desk job where you got to go home every day at 5 p.m. Those are the days when your friends and family will remind you what a great job you're doing-and remind you that you hated that desk job so much, it made your hair turn gray. So don't forget them as you throw yourself into this new year with visions of start-up dancing in your head. Chances are, you'll need them.

Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.

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