Finding balance is the never-ending quest of busy people, particularly women entrepreneurs who often handle the "multiple caretaker" role. How do women business owners make time for themselves?
Kristi Hedges, 32, and Elizabeth Shea, 37, co-founders and principals, The SheaHedges Group, a McLean, Virginia, company that provides strategic marketing and public relations to technology companies (Sales: $2 million):
"Elizabeth and I have partnered in our business to help one another achieve a work/life balance not often possible with sole entrepreneurs. Although we have different lifestyles and personalities, we approach the business the same way and thus, can cover the work for each other when we need to get away. As an example, Elizabeth is a morning person, participating in a rugged boot-camp exercise program in the a.m., whereas I work out with a trainer during the evenings."
Landon Slane, 36, co-owner/designer, Slane & Slane Designers LLC, a New York City company that designs sterling silver and gold jewelry for men and women (Sales: $2.2 million plus):
"The companionship of Daisy, my springer spaniel, helps me maintain a balance in my life when it would be so easy to be a workaholic otherwise. As I walk Daisy at the dog park or to work, we interact with other people and their pets, which takes my mind off business concerns for the moment. Daisy comes with me to the Slane & Slane offices almost daily, and her presence serves as a replenishing reminder of the importance of balance."
Andrea Edmunds, 35, president and co-founder, PoshTots.com, a Richmond, Virginia, retailer of upscale nursery and children's furnishings (Sales: almost $3 million):
"I prepare meals for my family most evenings, and I admit, the value of a crock pot and a convection oven should never be underestimated. Now four months pregnant, I treat myself to sharing mint chocolate chip ice cream with my girls after dinner. By 9:30 p.m., I'm ready for eight hours of sleep, which gives me the energy to run a company and a family."
Claire Lewis Arnold, 55, CEO, Leapfrog Services Inc., an Atlanta company that manages computer networks over the Internet (Sales: $2 million):
"Because I have an extraordinary amount of inborn energy, I have to constantly vary my activities to stay mentally balanced. Periodically, I make time for bikram yoga or a video workout to help me achieve physical balance, but what really feeds my soul is being in touch with the people I love. There are also times when reading quietly at the end of the day without the obligation of conversation is what nurtures me."
Julie Floyd, 39, owner, Classic Kids, a Winnetka, Illinois, company that specializes in creating black-and-white and hand-tinted photography of children and their families (Sales: $2.5 million):
"I finally realized I could hire people to do many things I used to do myself, allowing me to leave work every day at 3 o'clock and freeing up more of my time for my kids. I stay balanced by keeping my kids balanced. For all they know, I'm a stay-at-home mom, dropping them off at school at 9 a.m. and picking them up at 3 p.m."
Janine Gordon, 50, president, Margeotes/Fertitta & Gordon Public Relations, a New York City public relations agency (Sales: $1.5 million):
"My philosophy is 'Push for perfection, but don't forget to pet the pony.' 'Push for perfection' sums up my drive for clients and for myself. But I also own a horse, which I ride on weekends. 'Pet the pony' embodies the nurturing I give myself through my animals. [Riding my horse in] the country gives me a way to balance a business and a social life by living life in slow motion, often outdoors."
Whatever your philosophy, finding balance is a constant quest, and only you can decide what is right for you.
Aliza Pilar Sherman is an Internet pioneer, netpreneur, speaker and author of the book PowerTools for Women in Business: 10 Ways to Succeed in Life and Work(Entrepreneur Press).