Did you watch the last series of The Apprentice?
If you did, you may remember one of the two finalists, Helen, who conducted herself brilliantly in the final set of interviews. She came across as professional, competent and capable while some of the other finalists showed themselves to be full of clichés or a bit too naïve to go in to business with Lord Alan Sugar.
Helen was one of the favourites to win from the start, because of her professionalism and dedication to her career.
Why Helen Didn’t Win
However, there was one aspect of her personality which jarred with me, and many other people commented on it as a possible reason why she didn’t win in the end.
When Helen was interviewed, she stated that she didn’t have a personal life – that work was her entire world, and she had no real interests, personal relationships or hobbies other than work.
For me, this showed a certain desperation to succeed that potentially made Helen very single-minded and not very interesting. In business, we need to bring a wealth of skills gleaned for real life situations – the ability to build relationships, establish rapport with people and hold conversations.
If we have made work our entire focus for existence, are we at risk of becoming one-dimensional and lacking some of the basic human attributes that we need for business success?
The phrase ‘work-life balance’ has become overused and a bit of a buzz word over the past few years, but it’s an important consideration for anyone who is in a relationship.
We always joke about people who are extremely dedicated – the man who works in the same company, for example, who arrives at work at seven each morning and then stays until nine at night, slaving away on his PC long after everyone else has disappeared to the pub for some healthy socializing.
However, this dedication to your job can become obsessive or unhealthy, as the workaholic pushes themselves to extremes in order to do an outstanding job.
Anyone who works for themselves will probably be familiar with the pressure that sometimes builds when you are focused on work, and your partner or spouse wants you to spend time with them.
Anniversaries, birthdays or other scheduled outings may need to be cancelled at the last minute, leading to frustration and a growing resentment.
If you have a home office while your partner works, you may feel sometimes that you are expected to do too many things by way of domestic chores during the day, as your proximity to the dishwasher and washing machine mean that it’s simple for you to throw yourself in to cleaning or laundry when you should be concentrating on work.
Because of this, a relationship needs to be a great system of give and take.
If your partner understands that you can’t attend to household tasks while you are slogging away at work, equally you need to make sure that you don’t let your business come in the way when you need to spend time with your family.
Having a set routine is really important when you work for yourself, so that the boundaries between work and personal life don’t get smudged. Make sure that you are able to compromise when it’s time to switch the PC off and spend time with your partner, or he or she may end up feeling like a small business widow while you sweat tasks out in the office!
Running a business from home should be no different in many ways to working in a corporate environment.
Clock in, in the morning, do a good day of work, and then ‘come back home’ to spend time with your partner.