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How to Get Off the Hamster Wheel

To be truly successful, you have to take time off.

This story appears in the September 2010 issue of Start Up.

Starting a business is a little like having a baby: at the beginning, your life revolves around figuring out how to help it survive. Everything else--family, friends, health, hobbies, even sleep--takes second place. For first-time entrepreneurs with no previous practice in raising a business to maturity, the experience can be even more overwhelming. They can be so passionate about the company that they can't bear to step away for a moment--or so terrified about financial doom that they don't dare to. And that's where they get in trouble.

Five Steps to Achieving Balance

Don't just hope for time away from work. Build it into your schedule from the start. "The more you can make choices because you have time to be thoughtful and responsive, the more successful you're going to be," says DeGroot.

Delegate to partners and assistants to free your time for tasks only you can do, DeGroot advises.

If you can't grow by hiring more people, find other ways to reduce your workload, such as raising your fees or developing a source of passive income, says Caligiuri.

Make the race for profitability less frantic by finding frugal ways to meet basic business needs, like virtual assistants and shared office space, says DeGroot.

If you enjoy your new company so much that you lose track of time when you work, congratulations! You've achieved the coveted state of flow. "If you're doing what you truly love, time is far less relevant," Caligiuri says, "because the demands on you don't feel overwhelming."

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