When to Bring the Office Home
Work and personal life are inherently intermeshed. This is so true that for many entrepreneurs it's hard to distinguish which is which. For those who successfully maintain some semblance of non-work related activities and relationships, business mentality can infiltrate personal matters for both good and bad.
As entrepreneurs, it's important that we're intentional about which business practices we bring into our personal lives and this starts as early as choosing a field that allows us to maintain the personal traits we hold dear and then actively evaluating which business practices make us better and which we should leave in the office.
In college I was recruited to join a specialty private security firm. The relatively high pay and immersive training enticed me, so I went in for an interview. Sitting in his beautiful office, the recruiter bragged that this job would change my whole outlook on life. I would suspect everyone, he said. I would know my exit before I entered, memorize faces and patterns. I'm a naturally observant person so they thought I would be well suited for this role. But I politely declined and have never regretted walking away.
Suspicious isn't who I am or who I want to be. I like my trusting nature, and it's proven valuable in later years. There is no argument that I would've learned some useful skills as an investigator and security specialist, but they made clear that in this immersive profession I would not be able to leave those skills when I clocked out.
Being a successful businessperson means understanding how to collaborate with others, adapt to changing environments and hold yourself accountable. These are traits that are highly coveted in strong interpersonal relationships as well. But we must distinguish between these business practices and those that could be harmful in personal life.
Since starting CoCo & Co I've found myself bringing cost-benefit analyses into activities where those business tools don't belong. Running a food business, it's important to know that we use the highest-quality ingredients and packaging. Our compostable straws, from the amazing Susty Party, are a few pennies each. That's expensive, but worth it for the environment and our green brand. Having fully compostable packaging has allowed us to participate in earth-friendly festivals where we've sent 20k straws to decompose instead of clog up our trash system, which our customers appreciate. Weighing the cost/benefit of each and every business purchase has been vital to our success.
On the flip side, however, I stop myself when I begin making similar calculations at home. I found myself thinking about the longevity of my $40 pan over dishes a few nights ago. I started dwelling on how many total uses I got out of it before the surface aged and the handle became too loose. Would I get it fixed or buy a new one? On such a small scale, this attitude becomes obsessive. These are not the concerns that one should have in their personal life. And I decided to lose it!
You will pick up all sorts of habits as you build a business, and some of them will be helpful in other areas of your life. But know where to draw the line. After all, the most happily balanced entrepreneurs I know are focused not only what they are building, but also the person building it.
Which business practices do you enjoy incorporating into your personal life? And which do you feel are best left at work? Comment below.