by John Sikkema | October 10, 2016
For business owners, the line between personal and business life is inevitably blurred. Managing a business is a demanding juggling act, sidelining valued relationships, resulting in frustration and a lack of control over any aspect of our lives. I've lived by the following five key principles to create balance in business, freeing time for family and relationships:

1) Get your foundation right and be clear on the destination

Having the wrong people in key roles results in competing agendas and a clash of values. Address this problem immediately. Team players need 100 percent commitment to your vision -- the sooner you move the wrong people on, the quicker you can surround yourself with executive team members who will commit to, and contribute to a common, unifying vision. Look for leaders with complementary skills. Few of us are blessed with all the skills necessary to build a successful business. As soon as I identified such a leader, my business really took off.

2) Be prepared to take on a leadership position

The greatest move you will ever make is to step up and be "the leader." Find a mentor to encourage and challenge you. Some of my best mentors I've never actually met. They were visionary leaders who shared their most important business lessons in books on business and leadership.

3) Make culture, values, and integrity a priority

Get this key right and people will want to work for you -- and not leave. A colleague observed I had a paternal attitude towards staff. It's true, I do treat staff like family. Many companies, however, develop values that sound meaningful, even displaying them in full view of customers. This is a dangerous practice. Customers should be experiencing these values rather reading them. The most powerful value I have adopted is servant leadership. The people at the top must be prepared to serve their staff and clients. When a servant leadership culture is created, staff will follow.
4) Recognize that people are your biggest asset or liability

One of my best time investments is sitting down with individual staff for a brainstorming session. I ask them a key question - where could they add the most value going forward? Invariably, this has resulted in more passionate, loyal staff who have then achieved way beyond the original brief for my business. Research indicates that the three highest priorities for staff were:

* Feeling appreciated for the work they have done

* Being included  

* Taking into account their personal situation

By applying these three simple priorities, it showed I genuinely valued and appreciated my staff. In return, they responded by going the extra mile.

5) Align your business to your life purpose

The final key is the most important. Many high achievers will align their life purpose to their careers and businesses by default. I did. The consequences can be disastrous. My own personal brick wall resulted in debilitating migraines. My personal relationships were at breaking point. I was a workaholic, often absent, and the recession hit my business hard. Suddenly we were losing $30K a month. 

Through soul-searching, I had a profound spiritual experience that prompted me to cease pursuing my own success. With clarity, I discovered my life purpose; focusing on "helping others to succeed." I was no longer focused on my business success, money, or status. Whilst I looked the same on the outside, on the inside I was very different. I had a new "chip" in my head. I cut my hours back from 80 hours per week to 50, and started investing in my family. I changed from a controlling management style to a style of delegation and empowerment. My creativity and energy returned.

Within months, we franchised four existing offices, established our own funds-management company, and set a much larger vision: to create franchises across Australia's eastern seaboard. This culminated in a listed company buying ours. At that defining moment, my business became the fuel, enabling me to pursue a higher calling and to focus on my legacy. Ever since, my business interests are firmly aligned to my life purpose. What about yours?

John Sikkema is a philanthropist, thought leader, entrepreneur, and executive chairman of Halftime Australia, inspiring leaders to live their life purpose now. Visit for more information.