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A Fatal Mistake that Can Cost You Your Business ? And More

Whether you're a new business owner or if you have been running your business for several years, one of the biggest challenges you face at one point in time or another is overwhelm and imbalance.

How many nights have you dragged your weary body to bed only to lie awake for hours with nagging thoughts of what you haven't done or don't have answers to?

How many of your children's' ball games and school functions were missed because you had business commitments?

How many evenings did your partner spend alone because you were burning the midnight oil by speaking on the telephone or hovering over your keyboard, workbench or reference materials?

Was this because you loved what you were doing so much that nothing else mattered, or was it because you felt you had to do everything alone?

One of the biggest mistakes small and home-based business owners make is assuming they have to become the chief, cook and bottle washer and perform all of their related tasks flawlessly and concurrently.

I know many entrepreneurs who suffered failed relationships and experienced great loss because they over-committed themselves to their businesses and let everything else important to them fall by the wayside.

Many of today's most renowned entrepreneurs and success stories will tell you of losses they experienced because they didn't know how to do things right the first time or how to balance their priorities.

I was one of those people.

When I was building my first business in my 20's, I locked myself in my office for days on end. I would pour over books trying to learn business skills. I would be on the phone trying to drum up customers using painfully ineffective sales techniques I made up myself.

I created my chart of accounts, set up my bookkeeping system and decorated my office. I made flyers and pinned them up around town. Then I went home and waited for the phone to ring while I studied my product literature and organized and created and collected endless sources of information I thought were necessary for business success.

My partner spent many of his evenings and weekends alone. He would make dinner. I would join him once in a while, then head back into my office.

I wanted to succeed. I wanted to be my own boss and earn my own way and thought if I could invest every possible waking minute of my life to learning about business and acquiring all of the skills necessary, I would create the success and freedom I desperately sought.

Unfortunately, the biggest lesson I learned was, if you lock yourself in an office for two years straight, there probably won't be anyone waiting for you when you come out.

I learned that I had been completely unrealistic and selfish in my thinking.

No successful businessperson has made it entirely on his or her own. If there is an exception to this statement, the success probably came at a terribly high price, and in the end, would you call that success?

What is important to understand firstly, is you must have a product or service that provides significant and perceived value for the customer.

What you also need to understand is you don't need to be an IT specialist, sales or marketing expert, professional copywriter, or have an accounting designation to be a successful entrepreneur (unless of course it is the service you offer!)

You do, however, need to surround yourself with trusted people who are skilled and knowledgeable in the areas you aren't.

It's all about creating a success team and leveraging your time so you are focusing on what is most important and on what you do best.

You've probably heard this many times over, but you need to work "on" your business and not "in" it.

You have the vision of where you want to take your business and the future you want to create, so don't allow yourself to get bogged down by the tasks that take you away from your big picture.

I learned how to do things differently after what some may call dismal failures. (I prefer to call them valuable learning experiences.) I became wiser and put my ego on the shelf.

I understood that working alone and trying to be and do everything was foolish and counterproductive. It didn't mean I was weak or lacking in any way.

I learned how to create a success team and a mastermind group. I surrounded (and continue to surround) myself with mentors, coaches and people who are always a step or two ahead of me on the life and business success ladders.

I have a Sales Coach who constantly challenges me to expand my thinking, and a Marketing Genius as my mentor who bestows his infinite wisdom on me, and moves me to higher and higher levels of development and achievement.

I have a mastermind group I speak with bi-weekly who share in my wins, explore ideas and opportunities with me, help me analyze results, and hold me accountable to remain in balanced action. I provide the same support for them.

Surrounding yourself with people who are as committed to your success as you are and who not only fill the gaps, but continuously push and pull you forward is absolutely necessary if you want to achieve business success without paying a heavy price.

This week, take an inventory of where you are allocating your time.

Have you created a healthy balance between life and work to the point you are fulfilled in both areas?

If the balance is tipped, what activities can be discontinued, delegated or leveraged to regain stability?

What type of people do you need to surround yourself with to ensure smooth, continuous progress without placing the entire burden on yourself?

Spend time on these questions. Be honest with yourself and responsible in your answers.

If you acknowledge that change is required in the way you operate your business, take action to make the change necessary, always keeping your best interests and those of your business in mind.

Laurie Hayes works with small and home-based business owners who are struggling to maintain a healthy work/life balance. To receive valuable tips, strategies and techniques designed to grow a successful business without sacrificing quality of life, subscribe to her free bi-weekly newsletter at

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