Purpose – Increased participation of women in the labor force creates challenges for them to balance work and family obligations. The situation becomes more complicated in patriarchal societies such as Pakistan due to women’s stereotypical domestic roles, religious prescriptions as well as cultural norms and values. This study aims to explore different influencing factors on women’s work and family roles in the unique Pakistani socio-economic and cultural environment. Design/methodology/approach – Based on the interpretive phenomenological approach (IPA), this study explores different influencing factors on women’s work and family roles in the unique Pakistani socio-economic and cultural environment. The methodology helped to analyse data about challenges faced by women entrepreneurs to achieve work-life balance as well as to have an insight about some of the techniques and effective strategies they use to balance work and family obligation. Findings – The results show that among other motivational drivers to start their own businesses, achieving work-life balance is one of the most significant ones. Their own businesses give them flexibility, control and freedom to juggle with their family and social responsibilities. Lack of sufficient time, gender bias, social and cultural norms as well as family responsibilities are the most significant challenges women face to achieve balance in a patriarchal Islamic society. Strategic planning, organising and delegating are the most effective strategies women use to cope with competing roles of work and family. Originality/value – This ground-breaking work in Pakistan on women entrepreneurs’ work-life balance may also inspire other women who want to start their entrepreneurial career.