My next caution as you start a business, is to leave behind the rigidity of a corporate time schedule. Be sure to leave time for things that are important to you!

Many people go into entrepreneurship to give themselves more freedom to choose their lifestyle. However, they frequently end up manufacturing the exact problems they were trying to escape.

I live in a beautiful small town that is experiencing a growth spurt. There are countless new move-ins who sold their high-value homes in congested cities to live in a more laid-back atmosphere. Upon arriving, these same folks begin complaining about the lack of shopping outlets, social amenities, and malls. They seem to forget that people move to small towns because they are small towns.

These people initially like the slower pace, lack of traffic, and actually getting to know a neighbor or two. But then the memory of convenient shopping and a wide range of restaurants comes back and wins out. This attitude is turning our small town into the congested city those people were trying to escape. Be careful lest you experience the same phenomenon in your business: don’t create what you left behind.

One reason that I wanted to get out of corporate America was that I wanted to spend more quality time with my family. I wanted control over when I vacationed, when I worked, and when I took off to attend my children’s activities. However, starting a small business takes a lot of time and energy.

I realized this one day when I was dashing out the door and my wife handed me a glass of milk for breakfast. I popped a vitamin in my mouth and washed it down with one large gulp. I was gagging on the pill and coughing as my 7:45 a.m. conference call rang on my cell phone. As I started to jump into my car, my wife yelled after me: “Honey, please make sure you are there for Timmy’s program. He is so looking forward to performing for you.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I quickly said, dropping into the car and shutting the door. Then I hit the green “talk” button on my phone. Still on the conference call when I got to the office, I whispered to my admin to give me a 10:20 reminder to leave for my son’s performance.

Where do the mornings go? After ten minutes of prodding, I jetted out the door at 10:30 and headed for the elementary school. It hit me.

I’m going to be late.

Cell phone stuck to my ear on another conference call, I swerved through traffic like Jeff Gordon threading competition at Daytona. Ending the call as I entered the west entrance of Timmy’s school, I pasted a calm smile on my face and looked for my wife. The kids had just started singing. As I walked in, my beautiful, amazing wife gave me that look a man can only interpret if he has been with a woman for twenty years: a combination of “thank heavens you’re here—where were you?” coupled with “You know I would have killed you.”

At that moment, the bright eyes of my happy, yellow-haired Timothy caught mine and simply sparkled. They said to me, “You made it! It makes me so happy you are here. I am going to put on this show just for you, Dad.” His look made me avert mine, and I thought, “Boy, am I glad I did not blow this one.”

Too frequently, we allow ourselves to get caught up in both the whirlwind and the grind of our business adventures. Invariably, the drama of those adventures tends to muffle our inner voice of reason. It seems to mask the urgency of the truly valuable events in life. Too often we rush from task to task without really making significant contributions. We miss the really important things—the sweet things, the rewarding things—the lasting things of our lives.

Likely, I will always struggle with the tugging lure of a successful business and a balanced life, but it is a tug-of-war worth the fight. I do not embrace being my own boss to work less, but to be flexible enough to adjust my work to allow for the weightier matters of life. Weightier matters, like seeing my five-year-old dressed up as the Yellow-Bellied Bluebird in the school play.

Porter’s Points – Don’t Destroy What You Want to Create

• Many people go into business for themselves to have a more flexibility to do the things they love. Sometimes, what they love trumps flexibility. Don’t lock yourself into a corporate scheduling model that you’ve worked so hard to get out of.
• Live the rules that you set regarding family, time, and financial boundaries. The fastest way to kill your dream is to go at it regardless of the rules you set.
• You will never perfectly walk the tightrope in your venture. Getting the right mindset is the first step, though, and will keep you from destroying what you set out to create.

Next week we’ll travel back in time with an insight from a popular rock song, “Hold on Loosely, But Don’t Let Go.”