Forbes Council Post: The Founder And Company Dynamics: Balancing The Yin And Yang

Leen Kawas
4 min readMar 5, 2024

Leen Kawas | Entrepreneur, Inventor, Innovator and Leader | Managing General Partner at Propel Bio Partners.

Co-founding a company is a significant commitment and requires resilience, patience, focus and action. Starting two healthcare biotech-focused businesses, each with a talented partner, has enabled me to channel my passion into real-world results. Although each business has a distinctive focus, I have gained great satisfaction from each company’s achievements.

Not surprisingly, both companies have also occupied much of my mental and emotional bandwidth. Although investors have contributed to each company, I also put my own financial resources on the line.

Looking at the bigger picture, I have essentially been consumed by my desire to make my businesses work to enable me to achieve my personal mission of helping improve human health, providing accessible therapeutics and accelerating drug development. I have joyfully celebrated the highs and endured the lows. When things didn’t go as planned, I convinced myself that disappointments were only obstacles on the path to eventual success. In other words, I gritted my teeth and kept going. And in both cases, that approach has worked.

The Challenge Of Maintaining A Separate Identity

However, carving out a separate identity from my business has been difficult. Every week, I’m engaged in research, planning, and/or project execution. I meet with other stakeholders (including my partner), and I maintain regular contact with others in my industry. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I spend almost every waking hour working to move my company forward.

But while my business is thriving, my personal life (and my relationships) haven’t always received the attention they deserve. I have been fortunate that I ended up in a career that I am very passionate about, and it is easy to get fully immersed in it. After a while, your relations become mostly around the business, which could be limiting to having a diverse set of friends. This can limit the nature of your personal experiences and human connections.

Merging A Personal Identity With A Business Persona

Objectively speaking, channeling all of your resources into your company makes sense. You can’t achieve your preset milestones and stand if you don’t give the business everything you’ve got. Leaders who are genuine with their connections at work are at a higher risk of merging their personal identity with their business/company.

However, there are two sides to the story. Let’s work through the advantages and disadvantages of this “all in” approach.

The Advantage Of One Unified Persona

There is one major advantage of combining your personal identity with your business persona. When your entire life revolves around your company, virtually nothing escapes your attention. Going a step further, your high emotional investment greatly increases your company’s chances of success. This is a “win-win” for both parties.

The Disadvantages Of One Unified Persona

There are three potential downsides of integrating your personal identity with your company persona. First, by dedicating every waking moment to the business, your physical well-being and personal relationships can suffer. You would no longer have time for spur-of-the-moment activities with family and friends. It would make transitions between companies very hard as well.

Since you have done this, you try not to fall into the same mistakes and allow yourself and the company to grow together independently.

How To Cultivate A Healthy Personal Identity

Maintaining business-personal boundaries won’t happen with a snap of the fingers. However, putting several guardrails in place-and respecting them-sets the stage for this worthwhile goal.

Be selective with what you engage in. Rather than seizing every potential opportunity that comes along, focus on those that are truly in your wheelhouse, that you enjoy and where you can clearly add value.

Next, delegate projects and tasks to capable team members you trust. By taking some of the load off your shoulders, you can be freed up for higher-level work that keeps the company moving in the right direction.

Along these lines, recognize that you can’t possibly be an authority on every topic and technology. Therefore, surround yourself with experts. Together, find synchronicity and develop targeted solutions. This strategy enables the development of innovative ideas while helping to reduce personal stress.

Equally importantly, include work-free blocks of time in your schedule. Take a brisk walk or do a midday workout. It doesn’t matter what you do-as long as you get out of the office and clear your head. Upon returning, you’ll likely feel refreshed, creative and ready to tackle challenging tasks. Your productivity and efficiency can also increase.

Creating a more fulfilling personal life is also key. Establish a work-free zone dedicated to family activities. Spend at least one night (and ideally a weekend day) with your spouse, children, family or good friends. Over meals, opt not to have your cell phone with you so that you can be fully engaged with your family or guests.

Finally, carefully cultivate relationships with a few people who value you as a person. Regardless of your company’s growth trajectory, these supporters will continue to be part of your personal journey.

Final Thoughts

While founding or co-founding a company requires a remarkable commitment that may sometimes feel like an engulfing of oneself, there are undeniable personal and professional victories that come with the title.

To find the perfect balance between founder and individual, there are many insightful steps you can take to ensure that your overall life remains abundant, fruitful and successful in every capacity. By taking advantage of these tips and maintaining self-awareness, you, too, can make great strides in your balancing act.

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.

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