More Time Please … So you’re looking for some more time away from your business; certainly a very reasonable request. Does it feel like it is all work, work, work? If you are like many of the business owners I’ve worked with (and like the many thousands I have not) then you might be feeling that the business is running you, rather than you running the business. With so many things needing your attention, and the fear of it all falling apart if you’re not there, the thought of taking some serious time off must feel like a pipe dream. Or perhaps you are at the stage where you just want out. Maybe you have managed to get away but have returned to a mountain of work. The huge load you had to do in order to get away, compounded by the ‘catch up’ load makes it seem like it’s hardly worth going away at all. So what do you do? Your Answer is Here! … Now my goal here is certainly not to commiserate with your situation, my goal is to give you some concrete solutions. The good news is, working beyond your capacity and feeling chained to your business does not need to be your reality. It is absolutely possible to have a great business and have a great life that includes downtime when you need it. There is a path available and if you allow me, I will guide you through it. WARNING: What I’m promising is absolutely possible BUT it does require a commitment from you. There is no magical solution and anyone pitching you a quick fix is not being truthful. I am not asking you to work harder. I am asking you to work smarter and work towards a change that will make it possible to have the business life you have always imagined. This change may challenge your comfort zone but I guarantee, if you are willing, your commitment will be very worthwhile. Your First Step For you to attain time away from your business; there are four key components that need to be in place. These are the big items. Within each there is a multitude of detail to discuss, but let me first give you the big picture. The 4 keys to your freedom are:
- Profitability and Good Cash Flow
- A Great Team
- Processes, Systems, Reporting and Accountability
- Your Willingness to Let Go
The long and the short is MONEY, the first thing you need to have in place. If you are not making a decent profit then you won’t have the resources available to, invest in infrastructure or be able to hire good people. Shortage of money leads to the restricted growth of your business. Your business needs to have some mass (by that I mean sales volume and employees) in order to get your time back. Simply put, you need well trained, reliable employees to take on some of the workload. If you are a “solopreneur” or have just a few employees and are short on cash, then you really should be reading my page on ‘making more money’ – this is your first step. I’m making money but I have no time To an outsider, one may think that making money is everything. As a new business owner you may have had the same impression. With experience, however; you can appreciate that although making money is good, it often comes at personal sacrifice including your own time. What good is it to have money if you have no free time to enjoy it? OK, so you’ve worked out the profit thing – you’ve conquered the first of the 4 keys. Now let’s take a look at the next key. Picking a Great Team! In saying a great team is the next key is a bit like saying you need to have tires on your car, in order to drive. Really there are lots of components required to drive but you would certainly identify tires as being key. People are the same. Hiring the right team, staff, employees – whatever terminology you use to describe those you hire – is key to having time away from your business. Why? Because your team can be part of the solution or can cause a larger problem. As a business owner you may think it better to work on a system or process before thinking about personnel, but I will show you why an investment in the right people needs to be considered at this stage as part of your overall strategy. Simply Stated – A Great Team can run a business with limited systems, but untrained, unmotivated, under-valued people can wreak havoc on any great system. Do not underestimate the positive impact a great team can have on the stress levels of a business owner. It can be a game changer. The best part is – A great team will help you put all other components, systems and processes in place! So let’s take a look at your team today. This is where you ask yourself the question “if I had to start again and I needed the exact same number of people as I have today, would I rehire the same people?” If you answer no to any of your personnel, then a remedy on your team may be one of the steps you need to consider. For your business to run well, while you are not physically present, you will need to have employees that you not only trust but who are competent to do the job you expect. To learn more about working on your team, read my page on building the team. It may not be your team…… Here’s one more question to consider before deciding if it’s your team that needs the work; “Is it the team or is it their leader?” Yes! I’m talking about you. I often see business owners who are frustrated with their team, yet upon some gentle questioning we start to see that it may be a question of leadership. There are many styles of leadership and some styles are not conducive to running a small business. Owners who don’t know their leadership style or who lack leadership abilities may be the reason behind their team’s apparent lack of performance. This kind of insight can be difficult to establish on your own because it requires a lot of self-analysis. “Leadership is the capacity to translate visions into reality” – Warren Bennis When I work with clients, I use some objective tools to get an unbiased view about their ability to lead. Does that kind of scrutiny make you nervous? It shouldn’t, but if you can’t easily identify your leadership style, it is something that you need to consider. You are part of the team, and the entire team from top-down must be evaluated, and a list of shortfalls made, that are areas that need to be addressed. One last point on team before we move on If you have a great team now, consider this. Do you have a consistent way to find and recruit new people for the team who will fit the culture? If recruitment is not as systematized as it can be-then this is an area where there is a shortfall. Not every great employee will remain in your employ, great employees do sometimes move on to other opportunities. If you are not prepared to replace key employees immediately then you are leaving yourself at risk. If you’d like to learn more about that, take a peek at the team page. I am profitable and I have a good team but I still have no time! Well this leads us to the third component or key – Systems. You know you have good systems or processes if things are running efficiently with minimal errors and there are procedures that follow a consistent pattern, even when key staff members are away. Actually what this is a good indication that you have good operational systems in place. But there are other systems (processes) that are important to consider, enabling you to run an effective business that allows you the peace of mind needed to take time off. One of the reasons business owners don’t have the time, regardless of having a business that runs well, is that they often feel they need to be there to oversee what is going on. They want to ensure all is running smoothly and it is not about to fall apart. More than anything, being present in the business gives a business owner a sense of security. This sense of security is completely natural and very understandable. I’ve been there. I recognize the amount of time you have spent building your business- it becomes part of you and you want to make sure it
is safe! I get it, but what if I told you that you can have peace of mind when away from your business? One of the key sources that will alleviate the need to be there physically is, to have better transparency through a reliable reporting process. If you already have a great reporting system and things truly are running smoothly then you can skip ahead to Key #4 – Letting go. If not continue reading A reporting system is a must, because it allows you to have eyes on the business without being completely hands on. In every business there are key metrics that can be measured and will give you insight into the operational effectiveness of the business. Metrics and reporting never tell you the whole story, but they provide warning signs, a temperature gauge if you will, that tells the astute business owner where focus for improvement needs to be. It is just so hard to step back! Picture this scenario … tomorrow morning you get a call from an elderly relative who requires your assistance to with immediate care. They live far away and there is no reliable mobile/cell network there. In order to deal with this call for help, you will be away for about a month, and because of the limited cell phone network you will be completely out of contact. What is your first gut reaction? How does being isolated from the business make you feel? If you’re like most business owners who have built successful businesses, that scenario may lead to much anxiety, for many reasons, including what to do about your business. Don’t feel bad, this reaction is normal. It is also possible to overcome situations like this, by having a system in place where you know your business can function without your daily presence. What is Your Mindset? The real challenge here is, one of psychology rather than hands on tactics. Many, many of the business owners I’ve worked with, have some degree of struggle at this point. Sometimes the idea of taking lots of time off sounds nicer than the reality it represents. Truth be told, there are many reasons for needing time away and they are specific to each person, but the underlying principles are all the same. Here we dive into some of the belief patterns that have formed over the years and help to re-frame your way of thinking. We also build in small test scenarios that help to solidify the new beliefs. Don’t get me wrong it is not always smooth sailing, but many have done it successfully, and I will challenge you to plan for tomorrow. If what you have read here resonates and it is making sense to you, then your next step is to connect with me for a conversation. This will be our first opportunity for us to learn a little more about each other, and establish if there is value in moving forward. During this introduction, I will be formulating an outline or initial path with some concrete steps to move you forward. Doing so may be easier said than done and I’ve witnessed many clients who start with good intentions but weren’t ready for true change and years later find themselves in exactly the same place. Have the courage to take the step and see how, having a critical eye can help you see things differently and keep you focused on the important things. The best business people in the world in many different fields; rely on advisors, coaches and trainers because they know that operating in isolation is a fool’s path. It is my belief that no one achieves high levels of success on their own. Everyone and I mean everyone, has blind spots. Don’t let your own blind spot prevent you from having the business life you deserve.