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Published on October 24th, 2010 | by thevyne

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Smallbizlady’s 12 Step Program to Cure Work Addiction

By Melinda Emerson

Starting a small business is a great way to become a raging workaholic. As a reformed workaholic, I have developed a 12 Step program so that you can run your business and have a life. If you start your business with the knowledge of how it can easily become all consuming—hopefully you will make a point to avoid work addiction. Seek balance early on in your business.

1) Cook dinner at least twice a week Eating out is expensive and fattening.  Cook your own food as often as you can.  If you have a family, having dinner together is a great way to keep your family together and spend quality time. Remember your family spells love T-I-M-E.

2) Keep in touch with your friends Often times as entrepreneurs we end up with a bunch of friends just like us– other small business owners. If you have other friends that are not in your business circle, make a point of keeping in touch with them and making time for them no matter how busy you are with your business.

3) Play with your kid(s) or your sister’s kids Spending time with your kids is a great way to detox from your business. Sometimes I pick my son up from school and we just go to the park and play. He loves it and so do I.

4) Exercise Working out is good for the mind and the body.  It’s also a great way to blow off steam, think through a critical issue in your business and stay in shape. We all spend too much time in front of computers.  Walk it out—you and your business will be better for it.

5) Set regular hours When you are an entrepreneur, particularly if you work at home it’s easy to work all the time. Set regular work hours for yourself, so that you don’t feel like you are a slave to your business. Sometimes I just cut the monitor off on my computer so that I won’t be drawn to checking email one more time.

6) Take one day off per week Have one day a week when you do not work. For me that day is Sunday. I also try not to work on Saturday too, but as a professional speaker there are weekend events and conferences that require that I work.  In light of this I try not to do it three weekends in a row, so I can still be a soccer mom.

7) Have a niche As a small business owner, you have limited time and resources. You will have an easier time running your business if you are specific about who your client is and what problem you are solving.  Do not spend your time chasing everyone you think has money.

8) Take real lunch breaks Bringing your sandwich back and sitting in front of your computer so you can work while eating is not a real lunch break. You need to remove yourself from the work environment even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Your eyes and your mind need a real break.

9) Join a group that has nothing to do with work Have an interest outside of work.  I am active with charities that support organ donation.  You might want to consider joining a women’s group such as the Junior League or the Coalition of 100 Black Women. Men may want to join their college alumni association, fraternity group, the men ministry at church, and everyone can do board service. Consider being a volunteer.

10) Develop a hobby I got to point where I didn’t know how to relax, so I re-engaged with some hobbies that I enjoyed back when my life was not so complicated. I do gardening, yoga and I sing in my church choir.  What hobbies have you put on the back burner?

11) Hang out with your buds One of the things that can get lost when you start your business is your relationships with your close friends.  I am a busy lady, but I make a point of seeing my closest friends in person a few times a year.  I also have a party at my house every New Year’s day for my girlfriends I never get to see. I invite the same 15 women every year, and it’s one of my favorite holiday traditions.

12) Hire help The best way to keep perspective on your business is to get some help.  Whether you start with interns or engage part-timers or a virtual assistant. One of the best ways to stop feeling overwhelmed in your business is to focus on your strengths so that you can make enough money to hire the help you need.

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