From the July 2002 issue of Startups

There's often a fine line between working hard and being overworked. As a start-up entrepreneur, you might not have discovered yet where exactly that line is. When you're putting in long days, devoting most of your waking hours to your business, you can't help but think that's a good thing--you're doing something positive for your future, and you're doing it to the extreme. What could be wrong with that?

What's wrong with that might not be immediately apparent. But over time, it will be. If you keep running on empty, never pausing to take a break, not only will you eventually lose all your stamina, but you might also miss out on some of the most important experiences of your start-up life.

What I mean is, if you are constantly driving forward full-throttle, you will likely miss out on the scenery along the side of the road. Tunnel vision has a way of doing that. Think of yourself on one, long road trip. And on road trips, isn't at least half the enjoyment the experiences and people you encounter along the way? No one sets out on a long road trip for the sole purpose of reaching a destination.

So as you work hard on making your business a success, don't forget to notice what's around you. There are people who can help you on your journey--mentors, teachers, parents, friends, family, strangers. Listen to what they have to say, whether it's business-related or not. Sometimes you learn the most from just opening your ears.

There are also many experiences that will enrich your life as a start-up entrepreneur. If you have children, for instance, spend time with them as much as you can. Put yourself on "time out" if you have to, because it will help you rejuvenate yourself and prepare for the next workday ahead.

In this journey we call entrepreneurship, there are many bumps along the way. But they become much more manageable when you know your next stop is just a few miles down the road.