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Separating your business life from your personal life: The startup's dilemma

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Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2012 8:00 pm

Congratulations! You've developed your business plan, and it's time to start working. As you most likely know, creating a small business from scratch and running it smoothly can be a 24/7, uphill battle. You may still be working at 10 p.m., whereas your friends are out having a few drinks. Thus is the difficult path to forming a successful startup. However, when the fine line between your business life and personal life begin to blur together, both worlds begin to suffer. Creating a plan to keep your business and personal lives balanced can grant you success in both areas.

When your startup venture begins, differentiate your marketing materials right away. One of the most common mistakes startups make is to use one set of business materials for everything. For example, having a discernible set of address labels is crucial for your small business's marketing appearance. However, when you put a business label on a personal letter, you're labeling your personal life with your business. By using a set personal address labels, you keep your original identity instead of replacing it with your business and vice-versa. And remember, marketing materials include social media networks, so try to keep your personal and business networks separate.

In order to avoid "becoming" your business, create a schedule that allows you to take time for yourself. You'll be able to visualize what needs to be done, and when you have time to take care of unexpected issues. This will keep your own sanity in check, and allow you to have a social life outside your work. When you create your agenda, keep an objective point of view. If you schedule "bill payments" at 10 p.m., on a Saturday night, make sure there is no other time that you can do it. Set a goal to have at least two or three nights a week to yourself.

The final step can often be the most detrimental to your well-being - making sure that your business finances are kept separate from your personal finances. It's important that you start this practice even before your business takes off. There are two reasons behind this financial tactic. The first is that it keeps you from losing all your money in the event your business does not perform well. Leaving no money in a personal account can pull you down into personal bankruptcy. If you are unsure of yourself when creating your business, use a debit card for all your financial purchases to put a limit on the amount of money you can spend.

The second reason is for verifying your income. If you are constantly spending or earning money in both your business and personal lives, tracking where your income is coming from can be nearly impossible. Declaring your taxes and earnings can be a nightmare unless you separate your two financial lives. Additionally, you should set a goal of the amount of money you always want in each account to keep a monetary baseline.

Splitting your business life from your personal life (although difficult) can keep you happy and healthy. Taking time to develop your business marketing identity, scheduling time for "you" and not "you and your company," and splitting your finances into two categories can help you achieve success in both facets of your life.

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