I’m an athletics coach as well as a business coach. This means that I often get called in to make up the numbers for track and field events. I’m not very good at them but it’s easy to collect a lot of points by coming third of three in the less popular events. One of the events that I discovered in middle age was the 400m hurdles.
And, you guessed it, I have an analogy with business life.
400m hurdles may be a longer distance than 100m hurdles but there are the same number of barriers to cross. At the 100m start I can just see a row of obstacles and it is quite intimidating to stare at them while waiting for the gun. The 400m hurdles are spaced out so that I can only see one at a time and there is time between them to recover my stride before focussing on the next challenge.
For me, and for most of the accountants and business owners that I coach, the last 15 months have felt like a very long 100m hurdle event. Obstacles coming straight after each other with no opportunity to recover in between.
Now we’re heading back to a new normal which is more like the 400m event with time for recovery between each hurdle. It is up to us to make the most of the flat bits to recover and prepare as well as to move forwards, ever forwards.
Have you booked yourself a holiday yet?
Have you got your self a post-Covid plan? Can we help?
I’m a Line of Duty fan and one of the things that really impresses me is their evidence packs. It’s like an enhanced audit file where everything they say has supporting documentation.
I only wish that my own business documented everything as well. I’m pretty good at making notes and writing processes but often create a second document rather than updating .
Do you document all your processes for yourself, for new starters, and for possible automation? Do you download all email attachments to a separate document management system? I’d love to get some idea of how everybody keeps their client/customer information and their standard operating procedures.
As a chartered accountant I have to make sure that, if anything happened to me, another qualified accountant could step in and keep Minerva Accountants ticking over using my procedures and notes.
Is your paperwork good enough? Would your business survive without you?
Too many people seem to be adopting a long hours culture. It’s partly because of the lack of options during lockdown but now it is time to STOP.
Your productivity decreases throughout the day. My average work week is just 25 hours with perhaps 90% of the output of a 40 hour week. A lot of my work requires my brain to be firing on all cylinders and that’s not the case as I start to tire.
So why do people work 60-80 hours per week instead of employing a second person for the job? It’s usually because they’re not making enough money to employ somebody else. On a quick Twitter poll the other day 25% of respondents were making LESS than minimum hourly wage. And a further 8% (33% altogether) were earning a lower hourly rate than in their previous employment.
So increase your prices (we run regular webinars on this) so that you can afford to employ/outsource. When your own hours reduce you will probably find that your productivity increases so that you can provide a better service to your customers.
Whilst most of my coaching clients want to grow their business or to get a better work life balance we have two who are preparing their businesses for sale and preparing themselves for the move into retirement (realistically semi-retirement because entrepreneurs never quite stop).
I did have four such clients but two of them liked the reorganised business so much that they decided that they didn’t want to leave after all.
If your business works independently of you it is not just easier to sell but it will also allow you to reduce your hours without impacting your profitability. Most of this is done by replacing the business owner with systems. Or with documented procedures that can be delegated, outsourced or even automated.
Whatever your plans for your business please don’t suffer in silence as we have a selection of group coaching programmes and individual coaching too.
We’ve all seen shows where the hero is granted three wishes and they don’t quite get what they had in mind. And the same goes for setting targets.
I used to work in supermarkets to fund my way through uni. One of these was in central London and with so many customers living close to the store they often took trolleys all the way home and didn’t bother to return them.
About once a month the trolley boys would be asked to come in on a Sunday and go further afield to collect them in return for £5 per trolley. Not surprisingly, on the Saturday afternoon they would pay local kids to ‘hide’ some trolleys in a pre-agreed location for £1 each. So the store ended up paying for trolleys that were never ‘lost’ and the trolley boys made £4-5 per trolley that they ‘found’.
We must always be careful when setting targets that they prompt the desired behaviour.
Nobody can deny that times are tough at the moment with the double whammy of Covid and Brexit to cope with but we should still spare a thought for our environment and the world that we will leave for our kids.
The good news is that Covid has already prompted some good moves. Here are some ways that we can try to minimise our environmental impact.
Working from home or even at a serviced office close to home will eliminate the need to commute. If you need a commute as a mental break then try a walk around the block at the start and end of the day instead
Running a paperless office will reduce the amount of paper, ink and printers that are used as well as the file and furniture that we store them in. If you need some ideas then this is one of the free webinars that we run at least once a year
Online meetings where possible. Bingo! One of the benefits of Covid is that more people are doing this already. Once they’re interspersed with some real world meetings (business or personal) they should create a better balance
Walking, cycling and using public transport where possible will make a difference. Use a carbon offset scheme when car or even plane is the only option.
In order to understand both sides of an argument I need to ask questions. And I make my kids do the same. Those of you who follow me on social media may have noticed that I have strong views on Brexit but I still want my kids to think for themselves so, even back in 2016, I challenged them to give me 3 arguments for and against leaving.
As business owners we often have to make fast decisions based on incomplete information but it is still important to look at the information that we have and to weigh up the alternatives. Throughout the pandemic and lockdowns businesses have been forced to pivot faster than the 32 fouettés in Swan Lake but pivots and fouettés are both about turning on the spot.
We run monthly Flyby sessions where business owners (accountants and others) can pop in to update their action plans monthly, quarterly or whenever, to that they are moving forwards rather than turning on the spot. It’s much more short term than our full Strategic Planning Day but it will keep you on track for the next month or quarter to ensure that you make real progress.
Initially I chose a 25 hour working week in order to fit around my small kids. These days they’re teenagers and (in normal times) busy with their own lives but I still continue to work shorter hours because, as the advert says, I’m worth it. But it’s not just me who is worth it, we all deserve a decent work-life balance.
It’s up to you whether you structure your time into fewer days a week, or 5 shorter days, or any other work pattern you fancy. Personally I prefer shorter days because I notice myself getting less effective as the day goes on.
Writing my first book made it quite clear to me that I have peak creativity and mental energy for about two hours per day. This is the time for tricky jobs or the really good quality stuff that moves my business forwards.
After that I switch on to less demanding jobs, the bread and butter of what I do.
Finally I move to admin and emails.
I flex the time to suit myself and I particularly like to take time to have lunch with friends or for language or singing lessons. This leaves the evenings free to focus on family. At the moment I’m using the time to get out of the house in daylight hours to get some exercise and increase my mental wellbeing.