How to manage two businesses, write two books and look after yourself and your family

When I’m introduced at speaking events it usually includes something about how I run two businesses, write my books and look after two teenagers. It sounds a lot but here’s how I do it and how you can manage more too.

First, I try to limit my work to 25 hours per week to ensure that I have time for me and my teens. If I do something personal during the working day then I may choose to work an evening to compensate or I may accept that these is a quieter business week to make up for the weeks that are busier.

Pre covid I would try to book a holiday once a quarter. I think most of us have fallen into bad habits through lockdowns so do book your time off even if it’s just to pamper yourself at home rather than to go away. Rest is important to keep performing at our best.

I love everything that I do so no single part of it seems too onerous. I do find deadlines can be stressful so it is important for me to stay ahead of those by preparing early.

My life involves quite a bit of juggling so my diary is essential for my sanity. I have a default diary which schedules each morning to focus on a different aspect of my business. I split my main to do list between each of those 5 areas. The afternoons are kept free for meetings. If I have a speaking event that means that I can’t do one of my morning sessions then I move the appointment to another time.

On Fridays I double check my diary for the next week and move items from my to do list into an allocated morning slot.  My diary is usually pretty fully booked for two weeks ahead and probably half booked for the two weeks beyond that.

I’ve written elsewhere about the benefits of systemising, automating and delegating but please feel free to share your top tips too.

How do you work smarter?

There are all sorts of ways to work smarter rather than harder. I usually speak and write about systemising, automating and delegating work but you can achieve a whole lot more just by organising your workload better.

I run two businesses, Hudson Business Advice is my coaching/training as well as speaking and writing but I also run Minerva Accountants which is much easier to systemise with predefined processes for preparing accounts etc. I therefore use two different systems to track my workflow and deadlines as my brain can’t hold everything that I need to know.

Accountancy Manager is great for a highly systemised business with known inputs, outputs, and a clear process. It’s good for tracking deadlines and uses  templated emails at each stage of the process. There are other good systems available but this one suits Minerva best.

For my main business I have fewer standard processes but more individual interactions so I use Active Campaign to add notes and actions relating to each interaction. This business revolves more around people than processes, although I do have standard procedures for as much as possible.

I also use a third system, Trello, to track ideas and project work as well as my household and family tasks. (I will get around to resealing the bath one day!) I can have either a whole Trello board or a list on my main board to ensure that no idea is lost.

So, three systems to manage the three different parts of my life and also a vague attempt to separate them. I prefer these to paper because I can access them from any of my devices which are all backed up to the cloud.

What systems do you use to manage your to do list and ensure that you don’t forget anything?

Retirement planning

No matter what age you are it is still worth thinking about how you will save for your retirement. And I don’t just mean saving your teeth.

There are 3 main ways that your business can fund your retirement:

1. Increase value of business for sale

If you have a valuable business this can be sold at the point of retirement to fund your new lifestyle. Your business value will increase if it is highly systemised and not dependent on you.

2. Systemise your business for residual income

If your business is highly systemised you can step out of it or just reduce your hours and still have a generous income. Whilst we often coach accountants and business owners who want to sell up, two of them have been so pleased with the process that they have actually decided not to sell yet as the revamped business operates so smoothly and takes less of their time. It’s a bit like doing up your house for sale and then deciding that you like it so much that you won’t move after all.

3. Increase profits to invest elsewhere

Some businesses have limited sale value as they will always be dependent on the expertise of the owner. In this case it makes more sense to increase your profits to invest elsewhere. Your company can pay into a third party pension scheme or SIPP very tax efficiently or you may prefer to take your profits out now, pay the tax and invest in property.

Whichever way you choose to fund or retirement, and whether you use us to help you to improve your business or not, please remember to take care of your teeth.

4 hour work week

Have you read the book ‘The 4-hour work week’ by Timothy Ferris?

I read it a few years ago thinking that it would help me to run my business more efficiently in just 4 hours a week. Whilst it does have lots of efficiency tips for any business, it was built around the idea of building a business purely to earn money to finance a lifestyle. While this may be your objective too I was disappointed that there was no thought of creating enjoyable work or focus on serving a client’s needs. 

If you haven’t read the book then I can recommend it as it certainly gave me a few ideas that helped me to run a business I loved in a 25-hour work week, and I believe we helped our clients and their businesses too.

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