20 Questions

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

There is no one right way to find it.
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them
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Entrepreneur Staff
Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.
19 min read

Work-life balance is something that we are all seeking, and sometimes it can feel like how you actually achieve it is one of the biggest mysteries the world has to offer.

There is no perfect formula to figure out how to allocate equal time to your career, your friends and family.

For the 35 entrepreneurs we spoke with, that isn't always the goal -- in fact, some readily admit it's impossible. That's okay.

Launching a company can be all-consuming, but no matter what kind of backgrounds they had or industries that they are in, these successful founders agreed that it is essential to make time in your busy schedule to do the things that you love.

 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Make sure you feel positive about your commitments.

Make sure you feel positive about your commitments.
Image credit: Lyft

Name: John Zimmer
Company: Lyft
Work-life balance philosophy: It's a combination of finding work that you are passionate about so you feel good about committing the time, as well as making the physical and mental time and space to be the with the people most important in your life.

Read more about Zimmer: Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer: 'You Should Never Veer Off the Path of Your Own Values'
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Simply do what you love.

Simply do what you love.
Image credit: Duolingo

Name: Luis von Ahn
Company: Duolingo
Work-life balance philosophy: I don't understand the meaning of that. I don't burn out, because my work is my hobby. I do this because it's what I love to do. That's not a big issue for me.

Read more about von Ahn: Why This Founder Says the Worst Advice He Ever Got Was to Listen to His Users
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Work with people you enjoy spending time with.

Work with people you enjoy spending time with.
Image credit: Box

Name: Aaron Levie
Company: Box
Work-life balance philosophy: I think in my case work is so exciting that it is life to me; it is what I enjoy doing. Every day I show up to work, I get to work with my best friends. It's not something that I need to counterbalance with anything.

Read more about Levie: Why This Founder Says You Shouldn't Be Afraid to Go Big
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Not about balance, but about fit.

Not about balance, but about fit.
Image credit: Brit + Co

Name: Brit Morin
Company: Brit + Co
Work-life balance philosophy: I think more than work-life balance, it's about work-life fit. To me, that means figuring out the best way to spend time with my husband and children and also run my business without feeling like I'm compromising on either. Sometimes that means catching up on podcasts while I run, and sometimes it means leaving the office at 5 pm, so that I can be there for bath time. The hardest part of this balance -- especially as a working mom of two -- is finding time for friends. That's something I hope to continue focusing on over the next year.

Read more about Morin: This Founder Shares the Secret to How to Make Your Business Last

 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Be in control of your time and schedule.

Be in control of your time and schedule.
Image credit: RewardStyle

Name: Amber Venz
Company: RewardStyle
Work-life balance philosophy: It's just living intentionally. It's just feeling I'm in control of my own time. I think it comes down to calendaring things and feeling at the end of the week I was actually in control of what happened and where my time was invested.

Read more about Venz: This Founder Shares the Mindset That Helps Her Stay On Track

 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Look to the grounding presence in your life.

Look to the grounding presence in your life.
Image credit: David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Name: Bastian Lehmann
Company: Postmates
Work-life balance philosophy: You can only be at your best if you have something that grounds you. It can be friends, a partner, a hobby, just something else that you do. It's so important that one finds a balance.

Read more about Lehmann: This Founder Shares the One Trait He Looks for in Every Hire

 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Be present wherever you are.

Be present wherever you are.
Image credit: Pure Barre

Name: Carrie Dorr
Company: Pure Barre
Work-life balance philosophy: I don't believe work-life balance exists the way society has been describing it. I'd love to help shift how we describe it, because it puts an unrealistic burden and expectation on women. I want to redefine what it looks like. I believe in quality time, not quantity. So I'm fully present with my kids, with my husband, my friends, and the same when I'm at work. It requires us to accept that there is usually not a day where you get an A-plus in every category. It's looking at it as a whole rather than trying to make your day look so perfectly categorized. Otherwise I think that's a recipe for disaster.

Read more about Dorr: This Founder Shares How to Tailor Your Schedule to Fit Your Brain

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Finding joy will make you the most productive.

Finding joy will make you the most productive.
Image credit: BloomThat

Name: David Bladow
Company: BloomThat
Work-life balance philosophy: To me it's having enough time outside your daily work to find center and find joy. If it's cooking, spending time with my wife or going skiing on a weekend, it is being able to set aside time that's not work. Being an entrepreneur it's easy to lose track of that, and you are working harder, but you're not being productive. It's addition by subtraction. If you can find that time to relax, you will be more effective with the time you devote to work.

Read more about Bladow: This Founder Has 3 Simple Tips to Achieve Maximum Productivity

 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Make time to laugh every day.

Make time to laugh every day.
Image credit: Lucky Iron Fish

Name: Gavin Armstrong
Company: Lucky Iron Fish
Work-life balance philosophy: For me, it is an ideal that I'll have one day. I think it's important to make time for yourself, because it is very easy to burn out. I always try my best to make time for my friends, even if we're in different places.They keep me grounded and keep me sane. It can be difficult, but I'm trying to do a better job of staying engaged and making time for them. It's as simple as sending silly photos and jokes back and forth just to laugh. I think it's important to laugh every day.

Read more about Armstrong: This CEO Has Helped Thousands -- and He's Just Getting Started

 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Focus on the things that you are passionate about.

Focus on the things that you are passionate about.
Image credit: Gusto

Name: Josh Reeves
Company: Gusto
Work-life balance philosophy: Work-life balance implies to me a zero-sum game, and it's not. If work is better, life doesn't suck and if life is better, work doesn't suck. Work can and should be a part of life. Work-life as a part of living is making sure that I spend time on things I want to do, and I'm passionate about. Making sure I'm doing what's important to me and making sure how I spend my time matches what is important to me.

Read more about Reeves: The CEO of Billion-Dollar Startup Gusto Believes Passion Should Come Before Revenue

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Time spent outside of work is precious, so bring those elements into the office.

Time spent outside of work is precious, so bring those elements into the office.
Image credit: Eventbrite

Name: Julia Hartz
Company: Eventbrite
Work-life balance philosophy: Finding balance is an ongoing challenge, which requires constant attention and dedication. My life is extremely binary -- my passion is in Eventbrite and my love is in my family. The nature of business today is that the lines of "work" and "life" are a little more blurred. Time spent outside of the office or with family is sacred, so we try our best to bring many things that happen outside into the office.

Read more about Hartz: The Day This Eventbrite Co-Founder Learned When to Speak Up
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Every day doesn’t have to be perfectly balanced.

Every day doesn’t have to be perfectly balanced.
Image credit: Randi Zuckerberg

Name: Randi Zuckerberg
Company: Zuckerberg Media
Work-life balance philosophy: To me, it's a long-term goal. A lot of people put pressure on themselves to make it a short-term, everyday goal. I like to give myself permission to be lopsided on a given day.

Read more about Zuckerberg: Why Everyone Can Use Randi Zuckerberg's Number One Focus Tip

 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Be the best version of yourself.

Be the best version of yourself.
Image credit: GitHub

Name: Chris Wanstrath
Company: GitHub
Work-life balance philosophy: You are able to be the version of yourself you want to be at both work and home, and you do not let one situation negatively impact the other.

It's harder to quantify, but I think everyone knows that people who are happy and have that balance do better work. If you feel like you one activity is being negatively impacted by another that's a sign of work-life balance not being in check.

Read more about Wanstrath: This Founder Believes He Found the Answer for Burnout
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Quality, not quantity.

Quality, not quantity.
Image credit: Nerdwallet

Name: Tim Chen
Company: Nerdwallet
Work-life balance philosophy: There are two modes of operation: highly analytical and a daydream mode. I think the right balance is a mix of those two. Work is a social purpose, and the two feed off each other well.

Read more about Chen: Nerdwallet's Founder Shares the Worst Advice He Ever Got
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Protect your relaxation time through scheduling.

Protect your relaxation time through scheduling.
Image credit: Zocdoc

Name: Oliver Kharraz
Company: Zocdoc
Work-life balance philosophy: My way of dealing with that is to protect my weekends as much as I can, and get most of my work done during the week.

Read more about Kharraz: This Founder Says to Succeed You Need to Question Everything
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Have an element of flexibility

Have an element of flexibility
Image credit: BaubleBar

Name: Daniella Yacobovsky
Company: BaubleBar
Work-life balance philosophy: It comes down to is having an understanding of what it is you need to accomplish, having a timeline and the flexibility to set your path. Work-life balance for us means that if I have an important dinner I want to go to with friends I am leaving a little bit earlier than I normally would, I have the flexibility to do that. I know what needs to get done, I know that I am going to do it, and I can set that pace and tone. I think there is a nice element to that flexibility with startups. I also think it's about figuring out what's important to you and how do you create space in your life.

Read more about Yacobovsky: This Co-Founder of BaubleBar's Secret for Inspiration? Always 'Keep Your Eyes Peeled.'

 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Don’t build a wall between the two -- it’s impossible to maintain.

Don’t build a wall between the two -- it’s impossible to maintain.
Image credit: Food52

Name: Merrill Stubbs
Company: Food52
Work-life balance philosophy: It's all about having perspective. It doesn't mean erecting a wall between the two; that's unrealistic. It means trying to stay in the moment and being engaged in whatever it is I'm doing, trying not to let other things creep in and decrease my productivity or my enjoyment of that moment.

Read more about Stubbs: The Life-Changing Book That Helps This Entrepreneur Think Big

 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Constantly reassess to find the balance that works for you.

Constantly reassess to find the balance that works for you.
Image credit: Nicole Franzen

Name: Jenny Ripps
Company: Owl's Brew
Organizational tool: It means constantly prioritizing and making choices. Most of those choices should lead to me getting home on time to put my kids to bed. But it also means assessing where I need to be and knowing there are multiple things that I care about, including my family, marriage and work.

Read more about Ripps: The One Thing This Entrepreneur Does Each Day to Stay Productive
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Family is what is important in the long run.

Family is what is important in the long run.
Image credit: Talkspace

Name: Oren Frank
Company: Talkspace
Work-life balance philosophy: I think the concept is mistaken. I think work is work and life is life. and I think that anyone that has a real discussion with themselves whether they should spend more time working or more time with their family or loved ones is making a huge mistake. Hopefully, they will learn to regret and repair.

Read more about Frank: This CEO's Favorite Productivity Tips Are Surprisingly Simple

 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

It’s all about choice and every day is different.

It’s all about choice and every day is different.
Image credit: ThirdLove

Name: Heidi Zak
Company: ThirdLove
Work-life balance philosophy: I don't think there is such a thing. Every day you choose something to prioritize, especially as a working mom. Sometimes I stay late to work or leave early to go to my daughter's preschool. Every once in awhile I squeeze in something for myself. You're always picking and choosing, and hopefully, it's balancing out over the week or month.

Read more about Zak: What This Founder Learned at a Farmstand Helped Her Bra Startup

 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Reframe it as work-life choice

Reframe it as work-life choice
Image credit: Angie Hicks

Name: Angie Hicks
Company: Angie's List
Work-life balance philosophy: I don't believe in work-life balance, I believe in work-life choice, No one is superhuman, you can't do everything. It's about making the right choices for you at the right time. I made a commitment a long time ago, I'm at home for dinner with my family. We may not have good food, we might be having carryout, but it's important that we're together.

Somebody once told me, no matter how much your boss cares about you, no matter who they are, they are never going to ask you if you are at your kid's orchestra concert. You have to remember to make those choices and make sure those things are a priority for you.

Read more about Hicks: This Introvert Founder Swears by This Management Tip

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Get your quality time

Get your quality time
Image credit: Kara Goldin

Name: Kara Goldin
Company: Hint
Work-life balance philosophy: Making time for physical activity and exercise as well as quality time with family and friends. Since my husband also works at Hint as COO our work and home life are extremely integrated, which works for us because we love what we do, and it's such a big part of our life.

That said, I'm a mother of four and I value quality time with my kids that doesn't revolve around work. I also love to travel, so one of my favorite ways to make sure our family gets quality time together is with family trips.

Read more about Goldin: The Entrepreneur Behind a $90 Million Company Shares How You Can Get Past the Naysayers to Build a Successful Business

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Chart your accomplishments

Chart your accomplishments
Image credit: Stephanie Geddes

Name: Alex Friedman
Company: Lola
Work-life balance philosophy: It means feeling in control of both my personal and professional life, That can be measured by saying what I want to do a week in advance and then accomplishing that. Of course there are times when the balance gets out of whack, and I spend a lot of time on one. Over the course of time, if I can course correct and am able to balance the aspects of my life, I'm good.

Read more about Friedman: How You Can Use Your Computer Password to Make Your Aspirations a Reality
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Don’t separate the two.

Don’t separate the two.
Image credit: G Adventures

Name: Bruce Poon Tip
Company: G Adventures
Work-life balance philosophy: I don't think it exists. I don't think you can separate between home and work. I think that's a horrible way to live. I think it's really important that everything lives in the same space. I need to be influenced by what I do outside of work to do my best work, and so those things need to blend together.

If you feel that those things can't live in the same place, I think you should change one of them so they can.

Read more about Poon Tip: I Was About to Shut Down My Business but I Changed My Mind. Here's Why.
 
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Regret nothing.

Regret nothing.
Image credit: Boxed

Name: Chieh Huang
Company: Boxed
Work-life balance philosophy: It means that you're not having regrets on either front. You got to this point where you're not worrying about what you should have done with your job or your family.

I'm not perfect and sometimes I do have regrets, but that is what it means to me overall: getting to that place where you don't have them.

Read more about Huang: The Surprising Reason Why This Founder Says Not to Be Afraid of the Competition

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Monitor yourself.

Monitor yourself.
Image credit: Casper

Name: Jeff Chapin
Company: Casper
Work-life balance philosophy: I have a good signal for whether or not I'm doing good at this or not. If I go to bed and I'm not thinking about work, then I'm doing OK in the work-life balance. It's about being able to shut off work at certain times.

Read more about Chapin: Behind a $100 Million Mattress Startup, Casper Co-Founder Shares Advice on Finding Success as an Entrepreneur

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Set aside time, especially if you work with family.

Set aside time, especially if you work with family.
Image credit: Brooklinen

Name: Vicki Fulop
Company: Brooklinen
Work-life balance philosophy: Work-life balance to me means spending time with friends and family -- be it hanging out on the couch, going to an exhibit or flea market or something. Also, cutting off work at a certain time. My husband runs the company with me. We set up a time where we don't work -- we just do our regular couple stuff, like binge watch TV or go for a walk or cook together.

Read more about Fulop: Use This Founder's Simple Email Strategy to Keep Burnout at Bay

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Know you’ll never get 50/50.

Know you’ll never get 50/50.
Image credit: Nirav Tolia

Name: Nirav Tolia
Company: Nextdoor
Work-life balance philosophy: I am a big fan of reframing work-life balance into work-life alignment. I don't believe that there's some magical percentage of 50 percent work and 50 percent life. I think it's a false dichotomy. I think the world doesn't give you an opportunity to make this clean cut between work and life. Sometimes work is going to take all of your time and sometimes the most important thing is things in your life. I think it's all about aligning the two in a way that you feel doesn't ultimately cheat you out of one or the other..

Read more about Tolia: This Successful Entrepreneur Shares How You Can Build A High-Performing Company While Staying True to Your Values

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Trust that you and your employees will get it done.

Trust that you and your employees will get it done.
Image credit: Jennifer Hyman

Name: Jennifer Hyman
Company: Rent the Runway
Work-life balance philosophy: I've honestly never struggled with work-life balance. I am completely in love with my job at Rent the Runway. It's my passion and being around my team energizes me. I also love being at home with my husband and daughter. I think about my life with flexibility. We've created a culture at Rent the Runway that trusts our employees and their decisions as to how they spend their time. This means that if I want to take my daughter to a music class in the middle of the day, I do that. If I have a work meeting over brunch on a Sunday, I do that. If I've been travelling for work for a few days and haven't been at home, I'll come in late the following day to work. This strategy involves working at a company that trusts great employees will do a great job no matter where they are.

Read more about Hyman: Rent the Runway's Jennifer Hyman Shares Her Worst Advice Ever: 'Shut Up and Act Sweet'

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Make sure your work nourishes you.

Make sure your work nourishes you.
Image credit: Frankie Marin

Make sure your work nourishes you.
Name: Christene Barberich
Company: Refinery29
Work-life balance philosophy: I don't mind working long hours, especially if I feel the work is feeding me in return. I think what most people crave is having that feeling that their work is adding to their lives, not just taking from them. When a job distances you from these fundamental beliefs you have in life, that's where the imbalance comes from. It's hard for a lot of people to find work that is always creatively or professionally stimulating, but I think you have to be able to find aspects of the work that really do provide that kind of support and satisfaction. If there really isn't anything, it's an unhealthy situation to be in.

Read more about Barberich: Why Your Done List is Just as Important as Your To-Do List
35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Bring people into your process.

Bring people into your process.
Image credit: Sarah Kauss

Name: Sarah Kauss
Company: S'well
Work-life balance philosophy: I've sort of given up on the idea of balance. The balance part is really tipped more for work. For me, it's making sure that those who are most important to me understand that this is just what I'm doing right now. I invite them into the ups and downs and the joys and the struggles that are my days as an entrepreneur.

Read more about Kauss: This Successful Entrepreneur Shares Why You Should Do The Thing You Dread Most First Thing Every Day

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Make time for your passions

Make time for your passions
Image credit: Payal Kadakia

Name: Payal Kadakia
Company: ClassPass
Work-life balance philosophy: I look at work-life balance as the ability to to carve out time for both your passions and your work. Your passions may include your family, but they also may include your love of theater or music or, in my case, dancing. As adults it’s easy to get so caught up in our many day-to-day obligations that we lose sight of those activities that fuel our soul.

Early in my career, I felt that way, too. There was this tension between my love of dance and my desire to have a successful career. I felt like I had to choose one or the other.  Seeking that balance -- for myself and others -- motivated me to create ClassPass. In seeking to fuse my passions for dance and entrepreneurship, I created a company that helps others find the time in their busy lives to nurture their passions.

Read more about Kadakia: This Successful Entrepreneur Explains Why You Can't Succeed Unless You Invest in Yourself

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Delegate and then enjoy yourself.

Delegate and then enjoy yourself.
Image credit: Barbara Corcoran

Name: Barbara Corcoran
Company: Forefront Venture Partners
Work-life balance philosophy: It doesn't exist. I think the best you can do is delegate your time exclusively to work and delegate your time exclusively to the rest of your life -- your kids, your family life, your friends, your joy.

Read more about Corcoran: Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran Explains Why You Must Make Time in Your Schedule For Fun

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Make sure your values are consistent across the board.

Make sure your values are consistent across the board.
Image credit: Tristan Walker

Name: Tristan Walker
Company: Walker & Company
Work-life balance philosophy: I don't think about that; I just think about what's important to me. I like to say there are only three things [important to me]: my faith, my family and my work. That's all the time that I have to actually contribute. I think the wonderful thing about all of it is my faith, my family and my work all share the same values. So this idea of work-life balance is somewhat meaningless to me because there's no separation of those three things for me.

Read more about Walker: This Successful Entrepreneur Explains Why You Don't Need Billions to Build a Brand That Hits Home

35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them

Build a strong network.

Build a strong network.
Image credit: Melanie Perkins

Name: Melanie Perkins
Company: Canva
Work-life balance philosophy: We are what we repeatedly do, and being consistent with perseverance and hardwork have seen me from being a 14-year-old starting my first business of selling handmade scarves, to a 19-year-old starting Fusion Books, to where I am with Canva is today. I feel very lucky to have such a supportive network around me, and I try to dedicate as much time as I can for personal relationships.

Rad more about Perkins: She Was Told 'No' 100 Times. Now This 30-Year-Old Female Founder Runs a $1 Billion Business.

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  • 35 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Work-Life Balance Means to Them
  • Make sure you feel positive about your commitments.
  • Simply do what you love.
  • Work with people you enjoy spending time with.
  • Not about balance, but about fit.
  • Be in control of your time and schedule.
  • Look to the grounding presence in your life.
  • Be present wherever you are.
  • Finding joy will make you the most productive.
  • Make time to laugh every day.
  • Focus on the things that you are passionate about.
  • Time spent outside of work is precious, so bring those elements into the office.
  • Every day doesn’t have to be perfectly balanced.
  • Be the best version of yourself.
  • Quality, not quantity.
  • Protect your relaxation time through scheduling.
  • Have an element of flexibility
  • Don’t build a wall between the two -- it’s impossible to maintain.
  • Constantly reassess to find the balance that works for you.
  • Family is what is important in the long run.
  • It’s all about choice and every day is different.
  • Reframe it as work-life choice
  • Get your quality time
  • Chart your accomplishments
  • Don’t separate the two.
  • Regret nothing.
  • Monitor yourself.
  • Set aside time, especially if you work with family.
  • Know you’ll never get 50/50.
  • Trust that you and your employees will get it done.
  • Make sure your work nourishes you.
  • Bring people into your process.
  • Make time for your passions
  • Delegate and then enjoy yourself.
  • Make sure your values are consistent across the board.
  • Build a strong network.
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