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: Nancy Adamo, president of Hockley Valley Resort in Orangeville, Ont. In 1985, Adamo purchased the property and embarked on a $20-million revitalization program that transformed it from a bankrupt 28-room inn into a landmark 104-room conference centre and recreation facility featuring golfing, skiing and snowboarding. Recent include a full-service spa. The company’s 2006 revenue reached $17.4 million.
Adamo was driving home through a wild thunderstorm one night when she reached her breaking point. She was tired, overworked and stressed to the max. One thing suddenly became clear: if she didn’t make a change toward a balanced lifestyle she would risk not only her personal well-being, but her business as well.
At the time, she was working 16 hours a day, seven days a week. “I came so close to a nervous breakdown,” she says. “When you’re close to having no life — leaving your kids sleeping in the morning and coming home when they’re sleeping at night — there’s a life realization: what am I doing this for? And where am I going?”
Driving through that storm, she also realized that taking on too much responsibility was threatening her company. “God forbid, if I get hit by a car on the way home, nobody knows what’s going on [at work] except me. How dangerous is that for the business?” she recalls thinking. “If I was to evaluate my success, I’d have to give myself a minus.”
Desperate, she knew she couldn’t run the company alone anymore. “I had to learn very quickly to delegate and trust and literally let go.” That’s easier said than done, she admits. “One of the toughest challenges that entrepreneurs (and women in particular) have is thinking they have to do everything because no one else can do it as good as them,” she says. “I felt like that at one time, but if that’s the way you think, you’re going to be very limited in your growth.” In fact, if you don’t learn to trust and delegate and coach people enough to understand what your philosophies are, she says, you’ll never grow a business beyond sales of one- to two-million dollars a year.
These days, 59-year-old Adamo says she’s found balance, which she defines as “doing the things you love to do, and having the freedom to be able to do them when you want to.” She works a maximum of fifty hours a week, because “I want to have dinner with my husband every night. I want to go home at a reasonable hour. I want to spend time with my family — that’s very important to me. I have a brand new granddaughter and I love to spend time with her. I love to go away with my friends, with my husband, with my family.”
She’s even found a way to relax while at work: she indulges in Hockley’s spa treatments once a week, but “I do evaluation at the same time!”
Achieving balance is an ongoing but essential process that Adamo sees too many entrepreneurs ignore. “It may be tough, but unless you love you first, and are good to yourself first, you can’t be good to anybody else,” she says. “I’ve been there. And it’s not a fun place.”