Being an entrepreneur is hugely rewarding, but make no mistake, it’s hard work and there will be times when you’ll be backed up against a wall, worked to the bone, and you’ll feel like giving up. Don’t.

Sure, I remember being close to giving up, in the early days of Paychex. It was hectic and stressful. Once, I lost something like ten pounds and didn’t manage to get home for days at a time. I looked like a mess. I’d been sleeping on the floor of my office. I was toast—burned toast. But when I walked in the door, my then-wife, took a long look at me and said, “You can’t quit. Just keep putting one foot after another.” And, unfortunately, that may be the reality of life during those crucial “make or break” years.

If you do succeed, which you most certainly can, it is helpful for me to share a common regret—one I am sure I share with many entrepreneurs: not spending as much time with my family as I should have.

This is a tough one because you are working hard to build your company so that you can provide a better standard of living for your spouse and children. However, I do regret not finding a better balance earlier in my career. Work-life balance has become a big thing in business in recent years, and I’m not sure how qualified I am in giving advice on the subject, but remember it’s no good being successful and having no one with whom to share that success.

One philosophy that did usually help was my efforts to achieve balance was to always try making things a good deal for everyone (employees, family, friends, etc.) and that goes back to my early days as an entrepreneur and includes everyone from business partners and employees to customers and vendors. Outside of business deals, this involved having fun with people, while at the same time holding people responsible for their actions.

I always liked to have fun for fun’s sake, but I’m also guilty of using it as a means to issue a life lesson to those I felt were in need of a kick up the proverbial backside. Business should have a fun side, and I am known for the pranks and practical jokes I play on the people I care about, and the pranks people have played on me from time to time (see some examples in Built, Not Born: A Self-Made Billionaire’s No-Nonsense Guide for Entrepreneurs).

Work doesn’t have to be deadly serious all the time; you are allowed to have some fun. My no-nonsense approach more often than not looks for humor that contains a message or a test, be it of character, personality, or intelligence. But ultimately it is about making work pleasant and fun enough to keep you motivated. Surrounding yourself with those you are like-minded—whether family, friends, co-workers, whomever—will help you achieve some sort of balance throughout your career and make all that hard work worth it.


Originally published on Quora.

A Self-Made Billionaire’s No-Nonsense Guide for Entrepreneurs.

Paychex Founder, Tom Golisano shares the hard-won lessons from his entrepreneurship journey in Built Not Born, a guide to growing a company to any size by going against the grain like he did.

Learn More