To run a school as a business is to make a profit. This only makes sense. While spending time to get right all the things that contribute to that, the curriculum, the staff, the systems, the marketing, et cetera, and focusing on the net result, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger things that are really important.

Salary is good, and a salary and a profit are even better, but neither of those can buy either love or time.

This has been covered in the famous study, the Harvard Study of Adult Development, started in 1928, which has proven that relationships help us live longer and be happier.

(See the TED Talk “What Makes a Good Life?” by Dr. Robert Waldinger.)

The study found that close relationships, more than money or fame, keep people happy throughout their lives, protect them from depression, delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or genes.

So accurate, in fact, has the study been, that researchers working on it have altered their lives to spend less time working and more on relationships.

It seems to prove, despite what we may think, that money doesn’t make us happy.

Paul McCartney was right: money can’t buy love.

Particularly for people running schools and living abroad, it’s also very possible at some point we might have to rush back home because of a family or personal emergency. I’m fortunate enough to have been able to spend extended periods back in England looking after relatives twice since 2005, while my business took care of itself.

In fact, it grew.

Without systems, staff and financial planning, this would have been impossible.

You have to do a budget and review regularly in the form of management accounts. This is absolutely crucial.

Don’t have an accountant? Get one. Sit down and make a budget and review it monthly with them. It is not as difficult or as daunting as it sounds, and it could save your whole operation from a nasty shock.

The business owner working 18 hours a day will not have the time to put into close, personal relationships.

Without having staff and systems to take the heavy lifting, and by not doing a budget, by not knowing exactly how your business runs, you will not be able to allocate funds to other people to do jobs you can’t do or don’t want to do – and delegation or outsourcing should be your aim.

Without a budget you will have to work in, rather than on, your business forever, and you will never be truly happy.

Next time: More on budgets