How can I find greater work-life-

balance in my business and life?

work-life-balance business owner leading balanced life

Work-life-balance is elusive for most business owners

Work-life-balance is a term that’s been bandied about by many business and life coaches, lifestyle gurus and the personal development industry at large. It’s what we’re all supposed to be creating for a long and happy life. It’s the dream. Sadly, work-life-balance is a distant dream for many business owners.

One of the reasons for the unattainability of said dream is that the generally accepted idea of balance between work and life 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).

You know this is true too because if anything is to get done in your business, it’s down to you. If you don’t do it, the whole thing collapses like a house of cards.

You’re the first one through the door in the morning and the last one to leave at night. You have breakfast and lunch on the run, and after the kids have been put to bed at night, you 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?

I believe we need an entirely different picture to model our lives on if we ever want to feel satisfied with our life’s work.

It’s personal

I believe there are a few key principles for creating a better work-life balance as an entrepreneur:

  1. Balance is a personal thing. What works for you won’t necessarily work for anyone else.
  2. What feels right, is right. There are no hard and fast rules for balance.
  3. Balance is a never-ending negotiation. There is no set formula for balance. Priorities change constantly in life and business.
  4. Sometimes we’ve just got to get it done.
  5. There’s nothing wrong with working hard, there’s nothing wrong with averting a crisis, but too much is too much.
  6. Sometimes, not doing something at all, 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.
  7. Nobody has ever come to the end of their life and said, “I wish I’d worked harder.”.

There is no rulebook for work-life-balance. There have been times in my life when I’ve worked insane hours while feeling totally balanced, in “flow” and happy. Other times, I’ve worked much less hard yet felt completely overwhelmed and stressed.

Just because I might work fewer hours per day than you, doesn’t mean I have achieved better balance. If you feel that your life is balanced, then it is (and vice versa). Read “Drowning in the 21st Century” for more on this concept.

All-nighters can be fun sometimes, can’t they?

As business owners, sometimes we’ll be confronted with situations that mean we must pull an all-nighter or work on a Sunday. It’s part of the entrepreneurial package.

It can even feel highly rewarding to pull an all-nighter on a project with a deadline looming because at the end of the day, you know you’re the one that made it happen. You pulled a rabbit out of the hat! In fact, I believe it can be one of the most exciting experiences in business.

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Memories from the Sydney Olympics


I will always remember the time leading up to the opening of the Sydney Olympics in 2000. My team and I 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, but 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 same building afterwards!).

The simple fact is that if you feel good about your life and the mix of things you spend time on, you’re in balance. However, if you walk around feeling bad about the fact that your kids, spouse, choir, health, fitness or peace of mind are missing out, then your life is not in balance.

And what’s more, you must understand that what’s 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. But not forever.

But things change… Don’t they?

Right now, it may be fine for you to catch up on your emails 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.

One thing is for sure: You must take the issue of work-life-balance seriously and check-in with yourself regularly on what is and isn’t right. You must also 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)

Work-life-balance comes down to 5 things:

  1. Clarity about what matters most, to you, in your business (Also watch my short video about The Purpose of business here)
  2. Learning to say NO (and watch my short video about saying NO here).
  3. Learning to trust yourself
  4. The 4 quadrants of time management (and watch my video about managing the most valuable asset of your business here).
  5. 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.
  • How to say “no” to the stuff that doesn’t matter.
  • How to trust that you’ll probably make the right decision (you’ve got this far!).
  • How to set time aside for the important stuff you must do and delegate the rest (or apply the “4 Ds” see below).

Once you’ve mastered all of that, you’ll have started to create a beautiful business and life that might not look balanced to an outsider, but it works for you, and that’s all that matters.

The 4 D’s

The 4 Ds is a nice management concept. The idea behind it is somewhat parallel to the 5 things I talked about above. For any task that comes across your desk, consider one of the 4 Ds:

  • 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, 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 but not important) or maybe even quadrant 4 (neither urgent, nor important). If that’s the case, the world won’t come to an end. What’s the worst that could happen? DELETE.

Work-Life-Balance surveys:

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).

Your next steps

I’d love to help you take those 5 steps to achieving greater work-life balance. I have created a “Five Steps to Discovery Process” to help you get moving on building a beautiful business and life.

We start with a free initial chat and then a free 60-minute Discovery Session (via Skype or similar) combined with a short business discovery survey and report. You can book these through any of the contact forms on this page.

In the Discovery Session, we’ll get to know each other, and I’ll gain some insight into what stage you and your business are at. We’ll also discuss your challenges, allowing me to tailor the next steps in the process for you.

Further Reading:

The Ten Priorities; Priority #2: Doing Nothing

Ten priorities doing nothing

The work of the business owner

This is the second post in the series of The Ten Priorities: Laying the Foundations for a Great Business and Life. The second Priority is about Doing Nothing. The introduction to this series on The Ten Priorities is here.

What do you think is the best use of your time?

The other question I sometimes ask my clients is: What do you think is the best use of your time?

And of course, people generally walk into that little trap just as blissfully unaware as the trap I set in Priority #1.

And of course, people generally walk into that little trap just as blissfully unaware as the trap I set in Priority #1.

People will mention delegating, sales, customer service, marketing, planning, leadership, quality control, systems, financial management, coaching staff, you name it. Every function in the business has at some time been offered as the answer to my question.

The answers is : No – Thing

But the most important use of your time is: No – Thing… The most valuable thing you can do with your time as a business owner is to put your feet up on the desk and do nothing for an hour. No phone, no email, no interruptions… and THINK.

There is the work of the business, and then there’s the work of the business owner. The work of the business can often be delegated or outsourced. But the work of the business owner can only ever be done by you. And thinking, reflecting, day-dreaming even, is the ultimate work of the business owner. (More about doing nothing here)

When you make the conscious decision to get rid of all other distractions for a while, your brain will blossom, you’ll start to think more clearly, you’ll be creative and resourceful again and you’ll suddenly see opportunities and solutions you never saw before.

Go to a café, go for a walk, go and sit on a bench in a park… and do … nothing … It will transform your business… I promise you

There is a great article on Business Insider about the benefits of doing nothing but thinking here

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

Next week, Priority #3: Having Fun

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Laziness, procrastination and time wasting; Time management #2

The three things that get in the way of getting things done when you want to

This is the second article about time management and what to do when you find yourself procrastinating.

In the article last week, here  I wrote about Darren and the two big questions you must ask yourself all the time to become a Doctor of Discipline, and a professor of punctuality:

  1. How much do I want to do this thing?
  2. How much do I want to avoid the consequences of not doing this thing?

With absolute clarity over those two questions, your life will start to change.

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

But there is one more step to truly obliterate the concept of procrastination from your life. I’ll illustrate what I’m talking about with another story, this time about myself.

I’ve always done a lot of writing. I believe I am a relatively good writer. I was actually trained as a journalist in the dim distant past. So I’ve had a bit of practice and schooling, and I actually enjoy the process.

But for years I wouldn’t get much writing done at all, because of endless procrastination. Whenever I wanted to write something, I could literally spend days procrastinating and wasting time and getting distracted by everything under the sun.  And I used to beat up on myself like you wouldn’t believe.

Learning to trust myself

Until I realised, one day, that what caused my procrastination, was not knowing what to write. That insight changed my procrastination patterns forever because I started taking a whole new approach to my writing. From that day, I decided to trust myself that something would come out as long as I’d start writing.

And that approach has worked for me ever since. Whenever I want to write something, I simply sit down behind the keyboard, and I start to write; whatever pops into my head, stream of consciousness kind of stuff. Often I have absolutely no idea what I am going to write, but I just start writing anyway, about the weather or what I did on the weekend or the last book I read.

Once I start writing, I have learned to trust that it will come and it always does, and I enjoy writing again, and it is great for my business. Once we have absolute clarity about what we want to do and what consequences we want to avoid, we can often be waylaid by other hurdles to get things done:

  1. We don’t know how to actually do the thing we want to do.
  2. The task we’ve set ourselves is too big, and the enormity of it is overwhelming, and we just don’t know where to start.
  3. We are actually unsure what the task involves.

My client’s hurdles

I see these same hurdles appear for my clients all the time. A client might decide to write a marketing plan, for example. But in the weeks following the decision, nothing happens and the client start to beat up on herself for being such a procrastinator.

Of course, we investigate what’s going on and nine times out of ten, it becomes clear quite quickly, that the client doesn’t really know how to go about writing a marketing plan, what the steps are, where to start.

Invariably, as soon as we expose such a hurdle, the hurdle dissolves. We break the process down to a bunch of small steps; we decide what the first small step is and how to go about taking that small step and the client goes off and makes things happen. Procrastination simply ceases to be an issue instantaneously.

As I said, the hurdles come in many colours, shapes and sizes, but every time I notice a client (or myself) starting to beat herself up over being a procrastinator, I know there is something else getting in the way.

I believe laziness simply doesn’t exist, or at least not the type of laziness we get tough on ourselves over. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a lazy afternoon on a tropical beach, you could even argue that that kind of laziness is what the world needs more of, but people are rarely lazy good for nothing slobs in my experience.

Allowing yourself more time and space to ask yourself the two big questions and to investigate what is going on when you find yourself procrastinating truly will change your life… I promise you.

Business owners are all lazy slobs; Time management #1

time management lazy slob

How to become a doctor of discipline and professor of punctuality

One Monday, my client Darren walked into my office for one of our weekly sessions in a particularly foul mood. To my inquiry about his weekend, he snapped: “I didn’t get that bloody tax return done all weekend again! I am just so lazy!”

When I asked him what had happened he responded with: “I spent all Sunday cleaning out the garage, mowing the lawn, watching the rugby and taking my girlfriend out to lunch”. “To be honest, I have been procrastinating for weeks over this tax return and even after deciding to get it done this weekend, I still never even made a start on it”.

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

I kept a pokerface, but inside I was smiling, because every client I’ve ever had, has told me a variant of this same story at some stage in their journey with me: “I am a terrible procrastinator, I am a no good lazy slob who gets distracted by stuff that doesn’t matter and I need you mr business coach to get really tough with me.” I didn’t say all that of course, instead I said:

“Wow, that sounds bad. But did you enjoy yourself doing those other things?”

“Of course” he replied, “It felt really good to get those things done. But that’s not the point. I still didn’t do my tax return after making a commitment to myself to do so this weekend”.

“I understand that you are disappointed,” I said, “But tell me, have you always done your own tax return?”

Darren pondered for a little while and responded: “Yes, ever since my father taught me how to do it. It always feels really good completing it myself and getting some sort of refund”.

“Ok”, I said, “and have you ever been late completing it and are you late now?”

“Oh no”, he replied, “That would defeat the purpose wouldn’t it, I’d get a penalty, and that would reduce the fun of getting a refund. I still have a couple of weeks to go now, but I just wanted to get it in a few weeks early, in case something came up.”

I smiled and said: “Hmmm, have you considered that something actually did come up this weekend? Maybe the lawn, the garage, the game and your girlfriend were more important?”

“Is there actually any real reason to assume you won’t get your tax return completed in the next two weeks?”

Lessons from Darren

As you might have guessed, Darren completed his return on time as he always had before and probably has ever since. And yet he considered himself a lazy slob for not getting it done earlier.

I believe people only ever do anything in life for one of two reasons:

  1. Because they actually ‘want’ to do this thing, … or
  2. Because they don’t want the consequences of NOT doing this thing

Darren wasn’t a lazy procrastinating good for nothing at all. He wanted to do the garage; he wanted to deal with the grass; he wanted to watch the Wallabies win a game of Rugby for a change, and he wanted to spend time with his girlfriend.

He wanted to do those things. He didn’t particularly want to do his tax return that weekend. What’s more, the consequences of not doing his tax return that weekend were actually negligible.

In the circumstances, Darren made entirely the right decision to delay his tax return.

Ask yourself the two big questions

Becoming a better time-manager always has to start with asking yourself these two questions:

  1. How much do I want to do this thing?
  2. How much do I want to avoid the consequences of not doing this thing?

It really is that simple. As long as you do not have 100% clarity over those two questions, you will always confuse the hell out of yourself, and you will be exasperated with yourself for being such a procrastinator.

Of course, there’s more to being efficient and effective than just answering those two questions. And I’ll write about that in the second article about time-management. But without absolute clarity about those two questions, you will not become the time-management ninja, the doctor of discipline you crave to be… I promise you.

For more information about to how to step out of overwhelm, get unstuck and start having Fun in Business again, click here

Time Management, Procrastination and Laziness

Procrastination, Business Coach

Procrastinating My Life Away

Procrastination, Business Coach

The nonsense in my head and what I do about it

Today, I’m writing about procrastination, laziness and time management. Well, I say “today”, but that’s a relative concept, isn’t it. “Today” was meant to be last Monday, it’s now Thursday. And in unrelated news, my desk is as tidy as it’s been for weeks, my email inbox is empty and I just pulled a magic looking sourdough from the oven an hour ago.

Your business coach wonders: “Am I really the right person to write about procrastination? It’s clearly not one of my strength areas.”

Procrastination, time management and laziness… Tricky topic. On the one hand I’ve written before (here for example), that laziness doesn’t actually exist as a character trait. On the other hand however, some people just seem to get so much done and they’re disciplined and they get their heads down and don’t come up for air until the job is done and then they jump straight into the next thing and get that done too. I even know people who are so disciplined, they consistently don’t look at Facebook until after dinner and every day turn their email off for large blocks of time. Those people are on the Marvel Super Heroes Team in my book: Doctor Discipline or somesuch…

Time to get some nibbles

Procrastination, Business Coach Hang on, I’m about 200 words into this article… Time to jump up and get some nibbles from the kitchen.

Hi there, I’m back, 2 hrs later, but still.

You see in this case, part of the problem I’m having is that even as a business coach, I’m not sure yet exactly what I’m going to write. I’m searching for inspiration. I’m waiting for the Muse to strike me. One of my heroes, Oliver Burkeman from the Guardian, however, says in this interview  that waiting for the Muse is futile. Just do the thing, sit down and write, and see what happens, says Oliver.

It’s a technique I’ve used, with some success, in the past… But today… Not so much.

Procrastination and perfectionism

Procrastination makes me feel inadequate. There are some fascinating thoughts on procrastination, in this article by Costica Bradatan in the New York Times. According to Costica, procrastination is all about perfectionism. Our Vision is more perfect than the reality can ever be. We fear that the thing we want to create, build or write is going to be a disappointment compared to our vision of it and so we resist creating it. I can sort of understand that, but I don’t think I am a perfectionist. “Close Enough is Good Enough” has generally been my motto in life and consequently I “Get Shit Done”… Not as well done as some others might Get Their Shit Done maybe, but Done nevertheless. I pride myself on my ability to make things happen.

But some things don’t get done that way. The difficult stuff is always the stuff you can’t get done by rolling up your sleeves. The stuff we procrastinate over is the stuff that requires us to be courageous, the stuff that requires us to expose some of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Young Grasshopper gets a kick up the backside

Procrastination, Business Coach So what’s difficult for me about writing this article and why I think I’ve been procrastinating over it for such a long time, is that I don’t feel qualified to talk about procrastination, because I do so much of it myself. Me writing about procrastination, inefficiency and wasting time is like a junkie writing about heroin addiction.

But hang on… Stop right there young grasshopper. By that logic we should not be allowed to talk about anything we haven’t gained a PHD in. Nonsense, clearly. Maybe being a procrastinator is precisely what qualifies me to write about it. Let’s face it, who wants to get weight loss advice from a supermodel? I’d much rather listen to someone who’s struggled with weight loss as much as I do, and who may have found something that’s helped him. One of the things that makes AA so effective is being with a group of people who “get it”.

So let’s start this whole thing again:

At the AA meeting

Hi my name is Roland and I am a procrastinator…

Here’s what has helped me sometimes, and sometimes not (and then at least I end up with a clean desk)

I’ve learnt is that procrastination is always, a sign for me that there is something else, something unexamined, in the way.

It’s either:

  1. I don’t know what the actual thing is I’m supposed to be doing
  2. I’m not sure how to actually go about doing this thing
  3. The prospect of doing this thing doesn’t excite me
  4. The consequences of not doing this thing at this moment are not all that bad.
  5. I don’t have enough confidence in my own abilities, or skill or experience.

(In the case of the procrastination I went through over writing this article it came down to numbers 1 and 5.)

Knowing that that’s how it works for me, I’ve learned that I first need to become aware that I am procrastinating, because sometimes I am avoiding the thing so much I don’t even realise I am procrastinating. And then, once I’ve realised I am procrastinating, ask myself which of those 5 hurdles is getting in my way. In nearly all cases, once I clearly verbalise what is getting in the way of doing the thing I’m supposed to be doing, it disappears. The moment I verbalised my fear of not being credible, because I am procrastinator myself, I realised how silly that fear actually was, the hurdle disappeared, and I could sit down and finish the article into the form you are reading now.

Most procrastination hurdles we throw up for ourselves fade when brought out into the light… I promise you

#TimeManagement #Procrastination #FunInBusiness

Learn more about my Fun In Business Intensive Program

Do you know that delaying work can lead to creativity, innovation and better business ideas?
I offer Fun in Business Intensive Program, which can help you turn around procrastination and use your time to ultimately have fun in doing business. I will help you avoid threats and allow room to discover new opportunities that result in extraordinary business success!

Fun in Business Intensive

Time Management


How to become a time management ninja with two simple questions

ninja What does it take to make a success of your small business… how can you avoid adding to those frightening statistics about failure rates of small business.

In this series of articles and associated webinars and workshops, by Roland Hanekroot you will learn the basic concepts and get the knowledge you need to become a successful ‘Business-Owner’, as opposed to a struggling ‘Business-Doer’.



The format of each episode in the “First Steps” series is to explain the basics of the topic and then in line with the principles of New Perspectives business development programs, to suggest some small simple “First Steps” you can take straight away to put the knowledge into action.

Time Management 

In the fourth of these articles we’ll look at Time Management and ask:

What does it take to become an efficient manager of your time?

amazon Time Management is one of those topics that book shelves and libraries are full of.

When writing this article, I did a quick search terms for ‘time management books’ and found 20,000 titles ranging from ‘time management from the inside out’ ‘time Warrior’, ‘How to get things done’ and how to live on 24 hours or even 4 hours a day.

The trouble is, each one of these 20,000 books has a so-called’ proven method’ for mastering time management, overcoming procrastination( and laziness) and hence finding the secret to success.

So which one is best, and are there actually more than 20,000 different ways to conquer time management?

Juggling balls


 In my opinion, it really depends on how you look at it. I designed my own time management method some time ago, it was different and it worked really well for me for a while. (My patented system was based on the concept of juggling balls or balloons… “Keeping the balls in the air” and involved a white board and varying colours of ‘yellow stickies’). But really, it was just another variant on one of the many different to-do list methods…

As a matter of fact… most of the time management methods I’ve come across fall into two camps: Firstly there are the many variations on working with to-do lists.

Some of those involve a perpetual list; others involve a new list every day or every week. Some list-methods tell you to divide your tasks in 3, 4 or 6 different categories, and others suggest to just dump every action no matter how small or large in the same list. Some ask you to filter out the most important tasks and do them first, others suggest you do the one you like least first etc etc.

The second approach revolves around varying ways to manage your diary and your day: Some tell you to keep lots of blank space in your diary, some direct you to plan your day in 10 minute blocks and others ask you to just stick the “Big Rocks” in your diary.

10 minutes

I worked for a specialist time management consultant for a little while and part of his “IP” revolved around teaching people that every action that would take more than 10 minutes had to go in the calendar and anything smaller than 10 minutes had to go in the task list.

And you know what… I’m pretty sure all of the methods work, and that all of them are fantastic for the person who designed them.

My lazy client

But that ain’t you.

Some time ago, I worked with a client who used to beat himself up something shocking over his laziness and procrastination.

One Monday he came in to one of our sessions in a particularly foul mood. To my inquiry about his weekend, he snapped: “I didn’t get that bloody Tax return done again yesterday!”

When I asked him what had happened he responded with:

overflowing garageI cleaned up the garage, I mowed the lawn, I watched the rugby game and I took my girlfriend out to lunch”. “To be honest, I have been procrastinating for weeks over this tax return and even after making the decision to get it done this weekend, I still never even made a start on it”.

“Wow”, I said, “That sounds bad. But did you enjoy yourself doing those other things?”

“Of course” he replied, “the garage really needed cleaning, the lawn was weeks overdue, the Wallabies won and my girlfriend really appreciated the attention.  However, that’s not the point… I still didn’t do my tax return after making a commitment to do so”.

“I understand that you are disappointed” I said, “But tell me, have you always done your tax return?”

He pondered for a while and responded: “Yes, ever since I was 18 and my father taught me how to do it, it always feels really good completing it myself and getting some sort of refund”.

“Ok”, I said, “so you have never missed a deadline before and are you late with it now?”

Oh no”, he replied, “I have always done it and on time and I actually have another 2 whole weeks before it has to be in… I just wanted to get it in in a few weeks early, in case something came up”

Through my smiles I responded: “Well… maybe something did come up? Maybe the lawn, the garage, the game and your girlfriend were more important this weekend? Is there actually any real reason to assume you won’t get your tax return completed in the next two weeks?”

(In case you’re interested… my client completed his tax return the next weekend… he still had a week to spare) 

The two questions

You see, we only ever do something for one of two reasons:

1)    We want to do it

2)    We don’t want the consequences of not doing it

lunch on the beachWhat my client had ‘wanted’ to do was fix the garage, the lawn and the game and spend time with his girlfriend.  He wasn’t a procrastinator at all. He just didn’t particularly ‘want’ to do his tax return that weekend, and the consequences of not doing it were minimal.

So this is how I’d like you to think about time management.

As long as you are not 100% clear on what you want to do and you are not 100% clear on what consequences you fear – you will constantly confuse yourself and you’ll tell yourself you are an exasperating lazy procrastinator and that you need a better time-management system.

So, by all means… experiment with any of the well-established systems (personally I like the Steven Covey’s Urgent V Important approach) but no system is going to help you unless you constantly ask yourself: What do I want to do and what do I not want the consequences of not doing?

Give it a go… much more fun than beating yourself up… I guarantee it.

About the author and the Masterminds sessions

roland Roland Hanekroot is a business coach who works with Small business owners to help them have more Fun in their businesses and build businesses that sustain them for years to come.

Roland is also the author of “The Ten Truths books for Business owners” (more about the books here:

Every month Roland Hanekroot runs a business development webinar called “The Small Business Masterminds” more information here and to register for the next webinar, follow this link: The first time is free (normally $99)



Time Management

Business Masterminds Observations

Time management for smart business owners:

double your profitsHere is a brilliant anecdote from “Double your profits in 6 months or less” by Bob Fifer. (Link to the book)

The book is full of brilliant tips and advice, I highly recommend any business owner to read it and then put stuff into action.

This about time management: “The first thing I do when I get to work in the morning is to divide everything I have to do into three lists. List 1 holds only items that brings in new business or reduces costs. List 2 includes the things I have to do to maintain existing business or to keep an internal operating process running. List 3 includes all the things that someone else expects or wants me to do but add no value to the bottom line.
I always start on list 1 and will not proceed to any item on list 2 until all of list 1 is complete and I will not start list 3 until list 2 is complete.”

I love the simplicity of this approach and one of the brilliant benefits of this process is that the most important stuff gets done when you are at your freshest and most efficient. And when you go home at night, you know that you’ve done all the stuff that matters most, even if you haven’t completed all three lists entirely.

The Seduction of the Hammer

1001 Business Bedtime stories… The seduction of the Hammer… Truth 1

Truth 10 about the Business owner
Your time and your braincells are the most valuable assets of your business

Here follows another one of the “1001 Business Bedtime Stories” … Every story comes straight from the New Perspectives Small Business Bootcamp, stories of business and courage and they illustrate an aspect of one of Ten Truths… You might recognise some of them from your own experience.

Once upon a time… a long long time ago in a country not unlike Australia… Andrew was a builder…

Andrew had started his career in the building industry the same way many builders get their start, by doing a carpentry apprentice ship, becoming a full carpenter and at some point going out on his own, first as a carpentry contractor working for other builders and then slowly but surely taking on more and larger building jobs that incorporate other trades that are subcontracted to electricians, bricklayers, painters and the like.

Some years after having started out on his own, Andrew was working like a slave to his business. Because Andrew with his offsider carried out all of the carpentry and general building work on each of his jobs, Andrew had to be on site all day every day. Hence his day would start at 5am in the office, then on site from 7.00 am until 4 pm and then seeing clients and finally back in the office until 10 in the evening. Saturday was a workday as well and even Sundays were not normally work free.

Andrew wanted to Raise a Healthy Bouncy Business, with Raving Fan Customers, and a place where people enjoyed coming to work and be involved in something more than just making money and the opportunity to create a valuable asset for himself and his family.

But Andrew felt trapped by his business

“If I don’t spend most of the workday on site, I can’t ensure that things get done the way I want them to get done” was Andrew’s dilemma.

Andrew was tired.

The Bootcamp

Working in The Bootcamp with me, Andrew came to realise that continuing to be “the best man with a hammer this side of the Blue mountains”, might have been a good reason to get into business 5 years ago, but now he had to learn to resist “the seduction of the hammer”. Holding a hammer in his hands was not the best use of his time, his health or his braincells. it was time to let others take that hammer from him.

So he did… it took a lot of courage… but Andrew started by blocking 2 hrs every Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 7 am to 9.00 am in his diary as “Business development time” At this time he would not come to site and would not answer his phone at all.

At first Andrew felt guilty and anxious and as soon as 9 O’clock came he would race to site and try to make up for lost time but soon he started to notice that things went fine without him. He employed another carpenter to work with him and all his subbies and employees, and clients soon learnt that Andrew was not available at those times and managed fine.

This small change, consistently applied, was the key that got Andrew’s business unstuck and got Andrew on the way to creating something really special.

Now, 2 Years later, Andrew’s business is unrecognisable. Andrew rarely wears his toolbelt at all anymore these days. He likes to keep his hand in from time to time so he might do a set out for a staircase or hang a nice door every now and then but the rest of the time Andrew is building his business rather than building homes.

And what is more, the business has grown 30% and Andrew takes his son to soccer training on Tuesday nights.

And Andrew and his Business lived happily ever after… The End

Ask yourself… Where will you find the courage to make Profound things happen in your Business?

Find out more about the Small Business Bootcamp here

Or follow this link to New Perspectives Business Coaching


Hard work never made anyone rich

Hard work never made anyone rich

hard work never made anyone rich lessons from a fallen tree

Or the lessons I learnt from a fallen tree

I went for a big bushwalk by myself recently. One of the reasons for doing so was because I felt stuck writing this article. While listening to the birds, enjoying being by myself in the bush and giving my brain some space away from my business, I found the missing link that allowed me to become unstuck.

Walking along in the National Park, I stumbled on an enormous fallen tree, blocking the path ahead completely. It was muddy everywhere, but I felt like a rest so I decided to sit down on the tree. As I was eating my apple I noticed that the tree had been down for a long time and it had become a whole ecosystem in itself of lichen and moss and fungi and ants and beetles. The more I looked, the more fascinated and inspired I became about the system of life and abundance in and around the tree.


I moved on again but the only way ahead was to climb across the tree. After spending 15 minutes observing the tree so closely I realised that I had to climb across it with great care and attention so as not to disturb and destroy the beauty of the tree. As I continued my walk I started thinking about the tree, its beauty and the important lesson I had just learnt by taking the time to observe this particular obstacle closely.

Nearly every time I work with my clients at some point we come across the same two obstacles on the road to continued business development: The number of hours in a day and the number of cells in our brains, and as in the case of the beautiful tree across my bush track, the only way forward is to appreciate the beauty of these obstacles and learn to see them not just as obstacles but as the most valuable resources in your business.

Juggling Jane

You may recognise all or part of this scenario: Jane, is the owner of JW Solutions: Business is growing, Jane is happily spending more and more time fulfilling her contracts and extinguishing the ever present number of brush fires. Her customers love JW Solutions and the personal attention they get from Jane… and Jane is pleased with herself for keeping all the balls in the air… she is buzzing.

And things progress apace… until… “Oops”… One of the balls crashes on the floor…”Bugger, I won’t fix this with a bunch of flowers… I suppose you can’t win them all… I just don’t seem to have the time to supervise properly these days… better start doing some of those non-critical things in after hour’s time… Focus on the guys delivering during the day… Haven’t had a holiday for while… ah well cash is a little tight anyway… next year…”

Slaves to the business

And so it goes, For Jane and for you; you work harder, longer hours, weekends…”Business doesn’t stop just because I take a day off!”

But in the back of your head you can feel this little voice that says: “Wasn’t this business supposed to be something that worked for you? Wasn’t it supposed to give you freedom? Instead, have you actually become its little slave?”

“Nonsense” says Jane, “I just don’t work hard enough… after all,

“No-one ever died from hard work… right?””

Right indeed, but no-one ever got rich from hard work either …

No, the most effective way to get rich in a business is not to work harder, but to employ more people producing more products or services. We all know that of course, it is one of the reasons we are in business in the first place. But as you develop your business on this model, you will at some point be confronted by those twin obstacles of time and brain cells and you may, like Jane and like many before you, get stuck.

How you manage to get unstuck and how you interact with those obstacles in the middle of your path determines where your business will get to and if it truly starts to deliver the freedom and personal reward you want from it.

Stop and observe

When you do come across these obstacles in your path, instead of running faster, pushing harder and yelling louder, I would like you to stop for a minute instead. Take a breath and observe the striking beauty of the obstacles, just like I did when I came across the fallen tree.

You see, the missing link I found while being in the quiet space of the bush is this: The reason these same two obstacles appear for you and every small business owner that ever was is that your time and your brain cells are the ONLY truly scarce resources in your business, you simply can never go out and buy some more of them. At the same time, your business can not survive without being constantly fed with your time and your brain. Therefore they are far and away the two most valuable assets of your business and at the same time their scarcity is also what causes them to become obstacles.

The work of the business owner

Scarce resources need to be protected and once you truly start to value your time and your brain cells, you will start to let go. Because with every demand on your time or your brain you will first ask: “Does this actually need to be done by me? Is there anyone else who can do this? Does this need to be done at all?” You will want to use your time and your brain only for the “Work of The Business Owner” instead of the “Work of the Business”.

This is how you will build the beauty of the tree into your business.

I appreciate that this is a big change for you. Most business owners never make this change, and they remain stuck.

Don’t think you have to make this change in one fell swoop though; all I want you to do from here, to set out on the road to becoming a True Business Owner… is to actually get ON the road and take the first little step.

Little Step 1: A good first little step to take to start on this road is to set aside 1 hr a week for “Business Owner Time”, during business hours, at the same time every week, blocked out in your diary.

Don’t worry about how to use this time… just block it out first.  At the appointed hour, turn off the phone, turn off the email, turn off the mobile, you might actually leave the office, go to a café, or sit in the park, but do not take any calls, emails or anything else, (except from your spouse of course)

You can do this!

Let me assure you, every business owner can do this and nearly every client I have ever worked with has tried to convince me that there was some special reason why they couldn’t possibly do this… but they could and they did… because it is an absolutely critical first step, and basic to the long term development and viability of your business.

Later you will need more than an hour a week but start with this hour first.

Little step 2: What do you do with this hour? This hour is business development time; It is strategic work; It is the work that no-one besides you, the owner, can do; and it is the best, most powerful use of that most valuable resource in your company…Your time.

To start with, just use the hour to think, sit and think, or walk and think, drink coffee and think, think with a piece of paper and pen or think in the park. Think strategy, think future, think big picture, think plans, think about where you want the business to be in a year, in 5 years…?

From here there is no limit to the projects you could turn your mind to: The coming recession and how to manage around that; Your marketing challenges; Your tendering processes; Innovation; Business Plan; etc

And I want you to treat this hour as absolute holy writ, come hail rain or shine…Tuesday morning from 10 to 11 you are not contactable, by anyone for anything…

Janes little steps

Back to Jane; Jane is actually a client of mine, and JW Solutions is her recruitment business. Jane found the obstacles, the tree in her path and she started with “Little Step 1”. Jane asked her PA for assistance. She explained to her assistant what she needed to do and that on Thursday morning every week, from 9 to 10 she would no longer be available for anyone except her husband or kids, and she asked her PA to help her manage that, and not to allow her to slip anything in her diary or answer any phone calls.

The first three weeks were tough but then Jane started getting into the habit. Things started to change for Jane, it was as if a weight was being lifted off her shoulder, and she started becoming clear about the things that needed doing in her business to move it forward. Now, a year and a half later, she has altered her approach and takes an hour and a half from 9 to 10.30 3 times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and her business has increased its turnover by 30% in the same time. Jane truly appreciates the unique value and beauty of her time and her brain, and I believe her husband is much happier too.

Further Reading:
  • More about work-life-balance here
  • The “E-Myth revisited” and other books in the series, by Michael Gerber
  • The “One Minute Manager” series, by Ken Blanchard et al
  • “Small Giants”, by Bo Burlingham
  • “Secrets of small business owners exposed”, by Dale Beaumont
  • “The Elves and the Shoemaker”, by the brothers Grimm