Meeting both business and personal demands has long been a juggling act for women entrepreneurs. Between the long hours, travel, meetings and employee and customer challenges, there’s little time left for personal needs. Still, leading a rich, well-rounded life is as essential to your business success as it is to your sanity.
We ask Canada’s leading businesswomen to tell us how they effectively manage work/life balance. Each issue we’ll bring you the tactics and strategies that help women grow their companies and careers, while still finding a little “me” time to help deal with the personal commitments of life.
THIS ISSUE: Carrie Rowan, president of Absolute Recruitment Inc., a staffing agency in Mississauga, Ont. Rowan founded her firm in 2000 when she was just 22. In eight years, Rowan has added offices in Toronto, Mississauga and Vancouver–and grown Absolute Recruitment’s annual revenue to $6 million.
“When I started this business, there was no space for a marriage, no space for a family,” says Rowan. Working seven days a week at full tilt, sometimes until nine or ten at night, was what was required to get the business off the ground. But as the firm has matured, she says, “I’m finding room for new and interesting transitions.”
Rowan, now 29, married last year and finds starting a family on her mind lately. So she’s starting now to work out a plan to integrate life as an entrepreneur with life as a mother. “I definitely don’t have it figured out yet,” she admits.
What Rowan does know is that similar to entrepreneurs who must plan for retirement or other extended absences from their company, she has to ensure that her business can function and thrive without her.
To that end, Rowan no longer shoulders the burden of running her company alone. Instead she relies on her two most senior executives for help. “By having the three of us back each other up, we can make sure the workload is covered and that there’s some stability and continuity here,” she says. “I’m showing them the inner workings of the company. I’m also planning long-term to have them involved in more of our strategic plans for the present and the future. I’m involving them in all our key hiring decisions so that they’ll have a team in place that they can rely on and build.”
She’s also cut down on her in-office time, working Monday through Wednesday. On Thursday Rowan works from home, and Friday is reserved as “my emotional and physical balancing day, a day that’s completely for me,” she says. The schedule allows Rowan to gain some balance and also signals she trusts her team to run things day to day when she’s not in the office. At the same time, “it’s also for me to wean myself off of [work], because entrepreneurialism is kind of like a drug.”
So far, she says the new schedule is working, allowing her to start her week refreshed, focused and productive. “It’s created a real divide between my home life and my work life, and allowed me to balance myself between the two,” she says. Not only is that healthy for her business, but “I think that’s good for my marriage, and I think that’s also good for me as a future mother.”