Most business owners know they need to change, because they operate in a constant state of overwhelm because but they don’t know how to change and where to start. Does that sound familiar to you?
In my experience, the way out of overwhelm and towards “Fun” (that deep sense of reward and satisfaction you get as a result of building a business that hums along like a well-oiled machine) is primarily about knowing what step to take next and feeling confident about your ability to carry out the task, whatever it may be.
Consistency is Key
There’s a famous Chinese saying that tells us “the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step” and although this is obviously true, we sometimes forget that we have to take the second, third and fourth steps as well. I, just like every other human on this planet, am guilty of making this mistake, and when we make this mistake we don’t change and neither does our business change.
Consistency is the key to progress. It is the one thing that makes everything come together in the end. Just as the only way to get fitter is to exercise more today, tomorrow and the day after, consistently, you will only achieve your goals in business if you practice consistency too.
Consistency is Hard
Consistency is hard for everyone, but it is especially difficult for small business owners because you are all alone out there. One of the things I hear most often from new business owners is how surprised they are about all the little things that eat their time. They talk about how tough it is to get anything done because of the endless list of small and big things that need doing. There is no one else to do them and no one else to talk to.
As a business owner, there is no one to keep you accountable. No one will pull you into line or keep you focused on the things that are important in the medium and long term. There is no one to brainstorm with and no one to help keep you steady when the floor under your feet starts to wobble. Friends, family, partners and staff cannot give you this kind of support.
Every client I’ve ever had the pleasure of helping initially comes to me with feelings of loneliness and overwhelm. It is an entrepreneurial epidemic! Yet you know as well as I do that anyone who operates on their own, in this troubling state, simply doesn’t function as well as they can. Their brains don’t operate at anywhere near optimum capacity.
Building a Support System
For some reason, many business owners believe they need to do it all themselves and, if they can’t, it means they have failed some mythical test of entrepreneurship. Believe me: nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is, almost every business owner needs external support to build a Fun Business that sustains them for years to come. This assistance can come in many forms, such as a mentor, a board of advisers (formal or informal) or someone like me.
The bottom line: if you want to finally start enjoying your business (and your life!), then I urge you to go out and find some kind of external support. After all, two heads are better than one.
Your Homework (The Fun Kind)
I would be very happy to talk to you about the range of support programs that I offer to small business owners, both online and face-to-face. Please feel free to have a look at my website www.newperspectives.com.au or contact me by email at email@example.com.
Whether you reach out to me or someone else, let me assure you: if you truly want to build a business that sustains you for years to come, it is so much more Fun when you don’t try to do it all on your own. I promise you.
Next Month, I’ll start a new series about the 7 Habits of Highly Chilled small business owners
What does it take to be the leader of a Fun business
Great leadership in business can (for a while at least!) compensate for less than perfect scores when it comes to profit, passion, planning and many other pivotal aspects of running a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come.
If you are a great business leader of your people, then you’ve taken the Leadership Truth from my first book (download it for free here) to heart: “Your time, your health and your brain cells are gold,”. It’s also likely that you live the Truth from my second book (download it for free here) about leadership: “You have passionate beliefs, you walk the talk, and you are not afraid to dream,”. If so, you will more than likely have a business that does better than most.
I also once wrote that “a leader is simply someone we trust, and who is courageous, authentic and passionate.” This is clearly a great starting point because if your people don’t trust you, then no amount of systemisation, marketing or planning will get your business past a subsistence level. Inversely, when your people do trust you, see your courage and feel your passion, you will be forgiven for many other shortcomings.
Now, I’m going to invite you to take this thinking one step further.
Fun for Everyone
A Fun Business should be Fun for everyone involved. It should also sustain everyone – not just the owner – for years to come.
When I say everyone, I actually do mean Everyone (with a capital “E”): you, your family, your staff, your staff’s family, your suppliers, your contractors, your customers, your investors and even your community.
In fact, I am completely convinced (from everything I’ve seen and studied over the past 35 years!) that truly great small businesses are founded by and built around a leader who is committed to building such a business, for everyone.
Servant First, Leader Second
In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins talks about the concept of “Level 5 Leadership”. Leaders who operate at this level are passionate, authentic, driven and ambitious – but not for themselves.
Level 5 leaders are ambitious for their organisation and their people. Their ego doesn’t get in the way of how they run their businesses. They might be heading up massive global corporations, but they still fly economy (like the founder of Ikea) or do their own shopping at the supermarket on Saturdays (like the founder of Walmart) or answer their own phones (like the CEO of Nucor Steel).
This concept has a lot of parallels with “servant leadership”. Robert Greenleaf at Harvard University coined the term in the 1970s, but the idea has been around for much longer (a famous Chinese general wrote about something similar thousands of years ago). As Robert Greenleaf explains: “The servant leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead… (versus one who is leader first…).”
In my experience, every small, medium and large Fun Business that sustains all for years to come is run by a leader who sees their role as servant first and leader second.
A great example of this “leader as servant” notion comes from a client of mine who owns supermarkets. I remember the day we were discussing the structure of his business and we had drawn a new organisational chart in the traditional hierarchical model – the classic pyramid structure.
My client sat on top of the pyramid as the CEO. He had two different top managers below him, a bunch of store managers in the middle and all the shop staff at the bottom. We spent a lot of time talking about the structure and it became clear that my client was feeling uncomfortable.
We got up and walked around the room a little and suddenly his eyes lit up while he was stood on the opposite side of the table. “That’s it,” he said, “I am going to turn the pyramid upside down! I see my role as being at the bottom, not the top. My role is to support everyone in the business to do great work and grow as people.”
My client had that insight in 2010 and now his company has grown into a Fun Business that sustains everyone and will undoubtedly do so for years to come.
There is a quote by sales guru Zig Ziglar that illustrates the same principle: “You can get everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
Your Homework (The Fun Kind)
Think about some of the greatest business leaders of the modern era. Don’t imagine the rock star leaders who are household names for a while and then cash out and let everything fall apart behind them. Focus on the quiet, enlightened leaders of businesses that grow and develop year after year without fanfare.
In order to build a Fun Business that sustains you for years to come, you need to strive to become an enlightened leader. These leaders are committed, driven and ambitious. However, they don’t do it for themselves. They do it for the business and its people.
What can you do to embody enlightened leadership? It could be anything from regularly sharing helpful insights and nuggets of wisdom with your team to honing your emotional intelligence in order to find more empathy for others. No guru necessary – I promise!
Remember, if you want to have something you’ve never had before, you’ve got to be someone you’ve never been before.
Next Month, I’ll be talking about the myths of business growth, click here
It may not sound sexy, but the most valuable resource in your business is your mental health and wellbeing. If you want to build a beautiful business and life, then it’s critical you learn how to look after yourself, be kind to yourself and value your own time.
Your inner critic:
Do you frequently beat yourself up for procrastinating? Believe you’re inherently disorganised, forgetful and lazy? Think your time management SUCKS? Does a cruel voice in your head keep saying you’re not good enough?
You’re not alone. Absolutely everybody (except psychopaths!) has that critical inner voice. Everyone lets their worries, anxieties and irrational feelings of guilt get the best of them sometimes. However, we business owners are particularly hard on ourselves.
In fact, I often jokingly say that small business owners are the most guilt-ridden people on the planet because I hear these kinds of self-deprecating words so often in my coaching practice. So, what’s the solution? Keep reading for my two cents on the subject.
Less guilt, more Kindness, more Joy:
When we allow negativity and feelings of guilt to take hold, we give ourselves ever bigger burdens to carry. We set the bar impossibly high and then we punish ourselves when we don’t hit the mark. We lead ourselves to the paralysing place of overwhelm with too many tasks to complete in too little time and no plausible end in sight. Sound familiar?
In my humble opinion, being kind to yourself is not only the most powerful antidote to self-sabotage, but your fastest path back to JOY. Being kind to yourself is not just the most effective way out of feeling stuck or overwhelmed in your business and your life – it’s the only way.
Being kind is the only way
In 2020, I was interviewed on this topic by Donna White (of Build Your Best Business in the USA):
Remember, you are the only resource in your business that is limited: your time, your brain, your energy. That’s why you need to look after yourself, first and foremost – forever.
Your brain in overwhelm is not a pretty sight
As I mentioned in the video above, an overwhelmed brain is not pretty. It’s extremely inefficient, scientifically proven to underperform at every level and an enormous waste of your incredibly valuable time. And while the devil on your shoulder is, in fact, a protective mechanism designed to keep you safe, that doesn’t mean it ain’t a giant pain in the arse. So, how do we overcome it?
The good news is that you are completely capable of dialing down the negative voice and freeing yourself of impostor syndrome (feeling inadequate despite your success). Our brains are surprisingly malleable, and it IS possible to break the habit of a lifetime.
Begin by noticing it and catching yourself in the act. Be inquisitive about where the self-doubt could be coming from. Remain compassionate, judgement-free and patient with your perfectly imperfect self while you reframe those pesky misperceptions and then continue on your merry way feeling 10 stone lighter!
Above all, take it seriously. Have you stopped to ask yourself if you may in fact be overwhelmed and stuck in a whirlpool, paddling like a crazy person every day, harder, faster longer? I have developed a free self analysis tool, called “Overwhelm and the Whirlpool Report” You can go and complete the survey now, if you like, it will take 10 minutes and you’ll get sent a 6 page report, that I’m confident will give you some useful food for thought. Make yourself a cup of tea and go and complete it now.
Department of Jobs and Small Business
In 2019, the Federal Department of Jobs and Small Business launched a project to improve the support of small business owners in building a health business by maintaining a healthy mind.
I was asked to take part in this project in various ways:
I attended and spoke at the department’s national roadshow, Small Business Fairs, in Launceston and Hobart
I was involved in a workgroup run by the department on improving the support for small business owners in mental health and wellbeing
I took part in the creation of 5 videos on mental health and wellbeing in small business (featured throughout this page!)
Being a small business owner is intense. It often means wearing A LOT of different hats and bearing intense growing pains.
Of course, cash flow and finance in general are two of the greatest pressure points for small businesses.
But then there’s also this illusive “work-life balance” that most of us seek. How close have you come to achieving that so far (don’t worry, we’re all in the same boat!)?
Whether you’re in the start-up phase or your business is well-established, numerous different stressors and challenges are bound to come your way.
That’s when planning, processes, structures, communication, coming back to your “why” and using stress as a learning opportunity become your business besties:
Talking of stress: it’s pretty insidious stuff. It creeps in and builds up without us realising, and before we know it, we’re drowning in overwhelm and paralysed by fear.
So, how can we spot it? Here are some indicators:
Feeling less joyful
Forgetting your “why”
Remembering what you’re here to do (and therefore, what you’ll say “yes” or “no” to) is the key to relieving pressure. It’s also essential to eat, sleep, breathe and move in a way that fuels you each day. And then, of course, there’s connection – because even if you’re a one-person band, you shouldn’t have to do entrepreneurship solo.
Family business and balance:
Building balance in business (and life) always comes back to boundaries, such as limits on working hours and scheduling social time.
Family business has notoriously blurry work-life lines, so it becomes extra important to hold each other accountable and keep investing in your relationships outside of work.
Pearls of wisdom for small business owners:
Here are some first steps to maintaining good mental health in small business:
I promise you; this soft, cuddly kindness stuff is the most crucial and hard-hitting work of all.
Silencing (or at least muting because it’s a work in progress for all of us, including me!) that inner critic provides the space for creativity to flourish and a new level of clarity and productivity to arise.
Plus, as soppy as it sounds, you have every right and reason to give yourself a pat on the pack. You’ve made it this far. You’re alive. You’re learning. You’re growing.
So, here’s your permission slip to stop, give yourself a break and smell the roses. Look at what you’ve already achieved. Tell that little voice in your head to kindly move along because you’ve got this, and you ARE good enough.
Overwhelm and being stuck in a whirlpool; Your next step:
Have you considered that maybe you are overwhelmed and that maybe you’re actually stuck in a whirlpool? Because if you are, the first thing you must do is to stop paddling. I have created a detailed self analysis tool, called “The Whirlpool Report”. You can go and complete the full Whirlpool survey now at this link and you’ll be sent your Whirlpool report in the next 24 hrs, entirely for free. Make yourself a cup of tea and take 10 minutes to complete the survey now… I think it will give you some useful food for thought.
What does it take to build your own beautiful business and life? What is business-life coaching anyway? What are the principles of business-life coaching? How is business-life coaching different from any other form of business support or guidance? And above all, why should that matter to you?
Business-Life Coaching… It’s about everything
When we think about building a beautiful business, we tend to think about: systems, human resources, killer products, efficiency, financial management, intellectual property, culture, asset management, strategy, innovation, marketing, sales, planning, vision, purpose, systems, quality assurance, profit, cash flow… and possibly a bunch of other things that I’ve missed.
Which of these are the most important, do you think?
They’re all important, no doubt, but the key factor in developing a beautiful business and life isn’t in the list above. The aspect of business that “rules them all” (in the words of Gandalf the Great) is looking at you in the mirror. That’s right, it’s little old you!
Business-Life coaching: more money, more time, more balance, more life:
The principles of business-life coaching can be expressed in this statement:
“If you want something you’ve never had before, you’ve got to be someone you’ve never been before.”
As you’re reading this page, I imagine you want the future of your business and your life to be different to your current reality. You want to grow, earn more money, find more time, have greater work-life-balance, make the world a better place, retire (with a bunch of cash) and feel proud of the difference you’ve made with the stuff your business produces.
And that’s great! I love supporting people who have exciting dreams and want to make a splash. It’s what I get out of bed for every day.
Are you THAT kind of person?:
Here’s the big BUT: you won’t make a real splash unless you’re prepared to become the kind of person who builds the kind of business that makes the kind of profit (or difference in the world) that those exciting dreams are made of.
And that’s why I deliver business and life coaching – as a package. You need the “hard” skills AND the “soft” skills to build a beautiful business and life.
If you are, here’s how I help:
I will teach you about the latest business management thinking.
We’ll design new systems customised to your unique business.
We’ll create business and marketing plans [link] that work and then implement them.
We’ll get clear about the purpose of your business [link].
You’ll implement controls and get good at numbers [link] so that you have your fingers on the pulse every day.
We’ll get your staff [link] firing on all cylinders.
We may even develop new products or come up with innovative solutions to bust past the hurdles that have held your business back.
We’ll do all that and much more, but at the same time, we’ll be working on what it takes to become a great business owner who can build a truly beautiful business and life.
Working on YOU:
Honing leadership and self-management skills.
Developing your vision.
Prioritising what’s most important in your life.
Strategic thinking and planning.
Communication, people management and getting out of crisis management mode.
Above all, learning how to look after yourself.
Building a beautiful business and life is a journey out of your comfort zone. You must be prepared to look at yourself and finally acknowledge that you are the bottleneck holding your business back. This is the moment for you to say, with conviction:
This is the sixth post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The sixth Priority is about not doing it all on your own. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
Do you have a little voice on your shoulder, that whispers in your ear?
Most of us do.
And a lot of what the little voice whispers in our ears is not very nice, is it?
The basic message from the little voice, is that we suck.
We’re not good enough. We’re not cutting it as parents, as lovers, as friends and especially we’re not cutting it as business owners.
And for most business owners that little voice goes from whispering to yelling, the moment we even consider committing the heinous crime of asking for help.
Asking for support in business, is almost guaranteed to get the little voice on our shoulder extremely excited.
Deep down we all believe that being a great business owner, an inspiration to our staff and customers alike, means we must do it all ourselves. We seem to think that business success is only meaningful if we’ve done it all alone.
Hogwash… Utter nonsense.
It takes a village to build a great business. One of my most successful and oldest clients has built a whole team of specialist advisers, coaches and mentors around him. (More about getting external help here)
I guarantee that no matter which inspiring business role model you interview, they’ll all tell you their success is due partly to the support of one or more mentors, coaches or advisers.
No-one can do it all alone.
You need other people to:
Hold you accountable to your plans and goals.
Brainstorm with you and be a sounding board.
Support you when you stumble.
Give you honest opinions, advice and feedback.
There are many ways to get outside support. You can join a business support group, get a business coach, or mentor, start your own advisory board, or all of the above. But whatever you do, dropkick your little voice…Forget trying to do it all on your own… You can’t … I promise you.
I believe personal development is integral to developing your business. The two always go hand in hand. It’s the reason I refer to myself as a Business – Life Coach, rather than a business coach. It all boils down to one word: Leadership.
Most business owners, in the deepest dark reaches of their mind, are afraid they’re not quite cutting it as entrepreneurs. Oftentimes, as business owners, we start our business on the back of a profession, a trade, or a skill we have learnt (plumber, architect, accountant, software developer, designer, mechanic, chef, retail manager) and we feel confident in that particular skill. Starting a new business is an enormous buzz. But once we start a business based on that profession, we suddenly realise it takes a lot more than being a great plumber to build a great plumbing business.
Where’s the toilet paper?
Few business owners have studied to be a business owner, and even those who have attained an MBA or similar qualification, find they’re not prepared for the realities of life as a small business owner. Suddenly everything is down to you, the big decisions about whether or not to bid for that contract, or hire that expensive employee.
You’ll also have to decide on the lease of the new office as well as which toilet paper to buy… and then buy it. To top it off, your people look to you to have Vision, to have the answers and to be the leader.
Three pieces of good news about your leadership
It can be a frightening place to stand in the middle off, but there are three pieces of good news:
You got this far and you’re still standing, so you must be doing something right.
Your people actually want you to be the leader and they’re ready to forgive you just about any stuff up you’re going to make along the way.
Leadership is something you can learn, practice and get better at.
Your business is what it is today, because of WHO you ARE today.
That may seem obvious. But what may not be so obvious is what follows.
Because what it means is this:
If you want SOMETHING you’ve never had before,
First, you’ve got to BECOME SOMEONE you’ve never been before.
Systems and knowledge are never enough
Many business coaching companies sell a “system” that will supposedly deliver a business that generates a million dollars of profit every year. Those systems are often well thought through, well presented and well worth looking into, but they rarely work, at least not by themselves. The reason they don’t work is that Change, business Change or personal Change, is never about systems and knowledge. Just like we all know the system for losing weight (eat less, and exercise more), most of us business owners already know most of what we need to know to Change our businesses.
And just like losing weight means becoming the kind of person who commits to a regimen of eating less and exercising more, changing our businesses means having to become the kind of person who commits to a regimen of developing as people, as managers, as communicators, as coaches… As leaders in other words.
We have to become leaders, the kind of people, who do what needs to be done, to build the kind of businesses that make a million dollars net profit (or substitute whatever figure is relevant for you).
Becoming that kind of business owner, that kind of leader, who builds that kind of business, doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t flick a switch and suddenly become that person. Change is a Journey, an adventure, a process of growth. It takes time and commitment, and nobody can know, on forehand, what your adventure is going to look like or what the outcome of your Journey is going to be. Every business owner has his or her own Journey to make, and every Journey is different.
The one thing we can be sure of is this:
Change won’t happen unless you get on the Journey.
Getting on the Journey means stepping out of your comfort-zone and then staying there. You have to push off from the shore, get out onto the ocean, set a course for the horizon and not come back, because Change never happens in the safety of the harbour.
And you know this already. Take a look back over your life to date: It’s all been a Journey. Ten years ago you couldn’t have done what you do today.
But sometimes we just get stuck for a while in the safety of the harbour. Stepping out of your comfort-zone, leaving the harbour, is hard. The day-to-day of scrubbing the decks, repairing the sails and polishing the brass work gets in the way. And before you know it, the day-to-day is all there is.
The two questions you need to answer
That leads to two questions:
How do you know you’re ready to get on the Journey?
How do you get on that Journey?
The first question is the easiest as well as the hardest to answer:
You’re ready when you feel you’re ready.
More about the connection between personal and Business Change:
Do take a few minutes to watch this gorgeous TED talk by David Whyte, on past and future and journeys of Change.
There’s nothing wrong with being in the harbour for a while. We need to make sure the ship is seaworthy and safe, we need to make sure we know how to sail the ship, we need to learn to navigate and we need to get clear about the compass course we’re going to set once we get under way. The harbour is a great place to do all those things. But there comes a moment when the pull of the wide open ocean becomes irresistible. That’s when it’s time to go. And when you do: Set the course, hoist the sails, put your gaze on the horizon, and don’t look back.
How do you get on the Journey?
And the second question: How do you get on that Journey?
There are many ways to strike out, but one way to get onto such a Journey of discovery, is with me. I take my clients on inspiring journeys like that all the time. You could think of me like the captain of the ship. I know how to keep the ship safe, I know how to navigate, how not to hit the reefs and how to get safely back into harbour at the other end.
And I’d love to come on your next adventure with you.
Once you’ve decided that it’s time to push off and get under way, the process I will take you through is this:
We’ll get very clear about the state of your business and life as it is at the moment. What are the strengths of the business? What are your strengths as the business owner? Where are the stresses in your life? What are the areas in the business that are falling behind? What are the areas you need to develop in as leader?
We take several small steps first. You’ll get to put your toe in the water, feel what it’s like working with me. It’s called the Five Steps to Discovery Process, and it’s mostly free.
We’ll get equally clear about what we want the other end of the Journey to look like. In 6 – 9 – 12 months what do you want your business and your life to look like, in great detail? We’ll develop an enormous set of Goals and picture of the desired future. The Goals will include tangibles, and intangibles. It will include financial targets, and KPI’s across all areas of the business and your life. It will include your state of mind and your health and wellbeing, and everything else that you need to explore and discover to build the business and the life you dream off.
We’ll develop a strategic plan for the achievement of the Goal, with a wide range of monthly milestones.
We’ll shake hands and commit to the Journey, get on board, set the compass course for The Goal, push off, and not come back.
Ultimately, making the decision to Change, to get on the Journey, is Fun. It may not always appear that way, when looking out onto the vastness of the ocean at first, but it will be the most satisfying decision you’ve taken in a long time… I promise you.
Work-life-balance is a term that’s been bandied about by many business and life coaches, in the books and videos by the life style gurus and in the personal development industry. It’s what we’re all supposed to be creating for a long and happy life. It’s the dream. Sadly, it’s a distant dream for many business owners.
One of the reasons for the unattainability of the dream, is that the generally accepted idea of Work-life-balance is a myth. Many great philosophers and thinkers, such as the gently spoken Alain de Botton, consider that the way we think about Work-life-balance is fantasy (Watch Alain de Botton’s TED Talk here). We need an entirely different picture to model our lives on, if we want to feel satisfied about our life and work.
And you know this is true too, because in your business, if anything is to get done at all, it’s down to you; if you don’t do it, the whole thing collapses like a house of cards. You’re often the first one in the door in the morning, and the last one out the door at night. You have breakfast and lunch on the run, and after the kids have been put to bed at night you have to catch up on your admin and quoting. And by the way: Isn’t it funny how with every new staff member you employ to lighten your workload, you seem to get busier?
Work-life-balance: It’s personal
To create a better Work-life-balance in our lives as small business owners and entrepreneurs, I believe there are a few principles we need to understand first:
Balance is a personal thing, what works for you won’t necessarily work for anyone else.
What feels right, is right. There are no hard and fast rules for balance.
Balance is a never ending negotiation. There is no set formula for balance. Priorities change constantly in life and business.
Sometimes we’ve just got to do what’s got to be done.
There’s nothing wrong with working hard, there’s nothing wrong with averting a crisis, but too much is too much.
Sometimes, not doing something, at all, (whatever the thing might be at this moment), or not doing it perfectly is fine. Your business and your life will most likely survive and the world will not come to an end.
Nobody has ever come to the end of their life and said: “I wish I’d worked harder”.
There is no rule book for Work-live-balance. (Another article of mine about work-life balance here) There have been times in my life when I’ve worked insane hours while feeling totally balanced, in “flow” and happy, and other times when I’ve worked much less hard, yet felt overwhelmed and stressed. And just because I might work fewer hours per day, than you might do, doesn’t mean I have achieved better balance than you do. If you feel that your life is balanced, it is, and if you feel your life is out of balance, it is also. (read “drowning in the 21st century“)
All-nighters can be fun sometimes, can’t they?
As business owners, sometimes we’ll be confronted with situations that simply mean we have to pull an all-nighter or work on Sunday. It’s part of the package of being a business owner. It can even be highly rewarding to pull an all-nighter on a project, with a deadline looming and at the end of it, know you’re the one that’s made it happen, pulled a rabbit out of the hat. It can be one of the most fun experiences you have in business.
I will always remember the last weeks leading up to the opening of the Olympics in Sydney in 2000. I and my team worked every hour that God gave us for two weeks straight to complete the fit-out of the Holland Heineken House in Darling Harbour. It was probably the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. That’s now 18 years ago and I have nothing but fun memories of that period (and about the 14 day long party with 100,000 of my closest friends in the Holland Heineken House afterwards).
The simple fact is that if you feel good about your life and the mix of things you spend time with, you’re in balance, and if you walk around feeling bad about the fact that your kids or your spouse or your choir or your health and fitness or your peace of mind are missing out, then your life is not in balance. And what’s more, it’s really important to understand that what is right for you today, may not necessarily be right for you tomorrow. It was perfectly alright for me to spend those weeks building the Holland Heineken House and barely seeing my family, for those weeks, at that time.
Things change… Don’t they?
But it would not have been alright for that to be my life all year round. It may be fine for you right now to catch up on your email after the kids have gone to bed, but it may also be that at some point in the coming year it will start to bother you, and then it’s not alright anymore.
But one thing is absolutely sure. You’re going to want to take the issue of balance in work and life seriously and check in with yourself regularly what is and what isn’t right, and you will want to move towards finding the balance that is right for you, because nobody has ever laid on their death bed wishing they’d worked longer and harder. (The top five regrets of the dying)
The 4 quadrants of time management. And also watch my video about managing the most valuable asset of your business here
Learning to delegate (one of the 4 D’s, see below)
Work-life-balance follows automatically once: you’ve learned what really matters in your life, you learn to say No to the stuff that doesn’t matter, you learn to trust that you’ll probably make the right decision (after all you’ve got this far, why not assume you’ll continue to do ok), and finally you learn to set time aside for the important stuff you must do and delegate the rest (or apply the 4 D’s)
Once you’ve learnt all of that, you’ll have started to create a Beautiful Business and Life and that although it mightn’t look like Balance to an outsider, it works for you, and that’s all that matters.
I’d love to help you take those 5 steps above. I have created a Five Steps to Discovery Process to help you get moving and find greater balance in your life and Build a Beautiful Business and Life. The steps are small and mostly free, find out more here.
The 4 D’s
The 4 D’s I mentioned a couple of sentences ago are a nice management concept. The idea behind the 4 D’s is somewhat parallel to the 5 things I talked about above. For any task that comes across your desk consider one of the 4 D’s:
Do It – If it takes less than two minutes, and it needs to be done, just do it now. You could schedule it for later, or delegate it, but it might take you a couple of minutes just to do that. Save yourself the hassle and do it now.
Diarise It – if it’s going to take more than two minutes, if it’s got to be done, and you’re the right person for the job, block out some time in your diary in the next week or two to Do It.
Delegate It – The secret of getting more done and scaling your business is to delegate, delegate, delegate… So get good at delegating and look for every opportunity to do so.
Dump It – When you really stop and think about it, and you have a look at the 4 Quadrants of time management, some stuff isn’t actually all that important… A lot of demands on your time are firmly in quadrant 3 (urgent bu not important) or maybe even quadrant 4 (neither urgent, nor important) … The world won’t come to an end… What’s the worst that could happen… DELETE.
Have a look at my Big Pain of Small Business survey to see how you compare against other business owners on balancing work and life. You might also like to complete the very short Richard Branson Questionnaire, to see how you compare against the most famous of all the noble knights of business, who also seems to have his work and life sorted better than most of us poor peasants.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
This is the first post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The first Priority is about You, the business owner. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.
As seen on Kochie’s Business Builders
I sometimes like asking my clients what they think is the most valuable asset of their business.
Most people will mention, their customers, their staff, investments, equipment, IP, etc.
Of course, it’s a trick question, because the answer is, it’s You.
All other assets, as valuable as they might be, you can buy, borrow, hire or steal more of. But you, your time, your health and your brain cells are absolutely limited.
The first responsibility of any business owner is to look after the assets of the business and to maximise the return the business gets from those assets. And so, the most important job of a responsible business owner is to look after him- or herself.
Breakfast sitting down
Responsible business owners prioritise themselves.
They ensure they get enough sleep and rest. They ensure their brain gets time to relax, so it can function optimally. They ensure they have breakfast sitting down, most days. They get some form of regular exercise and they look after their own mental health and wellbeing.
You won’t always be successful at prioritising yourself, some days things just get out of hand, but regularly, maybe at the start of every day, stop for a moment and plan some space for yourself in the day.
If you take the responsibility of looking after your most valuable asset seriously, you will start to build a Great Small Business that Stands the Test of Time, and your Life will never be the same either… I promise you
This is the first is a series of 12 posts on Change (with a capital “C”) and laying the foundations for building a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time. The following 11 weeks will see one post each week. Please also read last week’s post about Entrepreneurial Types, here.
The very strongest foundation for a great business
For you to become the very strongest foundation your business is built on, I believe you must learn to focus on 10 Priorities. They are:
Asking for Help
Over the next 10 posts I’m going to explain each of the priorities in more detail. The 10 posts are quite short (about 200 to 250 words each) and practical. I hope you’ll take the simple messages of each one to heart and experiment with them in your own life as a business owner. You can do a simple search and read all of the Priority posts at once, by clicking on the category: “Ten Priorities” in the category box in the right hand column.
The life of the harried business owner
First, let me sketch a picture of the life of a typical small business owner for you (BTW, I’d love to hear if you recognise yourself in any part of the picture):
You’re the first one in the door in the morning and the last one out at night. You run around from crisis to crisis, extinguishing brush fires all day long. You feel guilty that you don’t do the stuff you know you ought to do to develop the business. Your staff don’t seem able to tie their own shoe laces without your supervision. Customers expect you, not your staff, to be the one who personally does all their work for them, yourself. You actually made more money before you started employing all those people anyway. And finally, you have to do your admin and catch up on your email after the kids have gone to bed.
Sucked into a sea of mud
Recognise any of that picture at all? Even if you only recognise 25% of that picture, you’re most likely on first name terms with overwhelm. Overwhelm is no fun anyway, but worse is that human brains in overwhelm are ineffective, they focus on the wrong things and make the wrong decisions and that leads to more stress and overwhelm and the whole thing becomes a vicious cycle. Overwhelm affects your health and well-being and that of your families and besides, your business gets sucked into a sea of mud as well.
That’s the general state of things for many small business owners in my experience and some of the reasons many small businesses never develop to their potential.
Videos on Kochie’s Business Builders
Hence I’ve written The 10 Priorities. Accompanying the 10 Priorities are also a series of videos as as seen on Kochie’s Business Builders on national TV, Channel 7 in Australia. All 5 videos can be watched here
I have also created a survey tool to help you gain greater insight into the many competing priorities of being the foundation your beautiful business is built on feel free to complete the “overwhelm and business” survey here now, and you will receive a handy report, by email in 24 to 48 hrs.
If you make it your absolute commitment to focus on The 10 Priorities in the coming year, you will create a foundation on which you truly can build a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time, and your life will never be the same either… I promise you.