Lots of triathlon and sports metaphors to come. Triathlons, like running a business, are an endurance event. We’ve seen the Brownlee brothers and others helped across the finish line (there’s another message there about needing support, even in individual sports). Speed alone is no good if you can’t make it to the final goal.
Working long hours just won’t crack it as many folk are finding out after working through stressful lockdowns without a break.
Personally I like my 25 hours working week spread over 5 days. I can feel my brain slowing down throughout the day so better to go and do something nice with family or friends, or a bit of alone time rather than push on through (unless there’s an exceptional deadline).
Whatever hours you choose to work you want every one of them to count and that’s why we focus so much on efficiency on the online courses and couching sessions.
Look for one thing you can do more efficiently this week; perhaps by automating or delegating it or just improving the system.
When I first set up my business I had a vision of how I wanted to spend my days and you probably did too.
I wrote mine down but you may have a vision board or another means of capturing what you, personally, wanted out of your business. (If not then you should consider doing this now)
How does your typical day compare to this ideal?
Over the last 16 months many of us have drifted away from this but we now have time to catch our breath and make improvements. I could tell of the benefits of a decent business coach to make things happen in your business but you can still do things for yourself.
What ONE thing can you do today to move your business closer to the business you originally dreamt of? Now do it. TODAY.
I recently did a wholly unscientific survey on Twitter to find out what hourly rate people were earning working for themselves and taking payment as drawings or salary plus dividends.
The shocking, but unsurprising, result was that 25% were earning below minimum wage.
A further 8% were earning less than they had in their previous employment. In spite of taking on additional business risks.
Whilst in start up mode it may feel necessary to reinvest your profits into the business or to work longer hours to save a salary. This is still a problem but there is a finite period. If you have not recovered your hourly rate by the 3 year mark then you need to get some expert help to tweak your business. (This may be me or another favourite coach)
Look at your pricing, look at the type of work that you’re doing, and look at your internal efficiencies before taking on any more work. It’s no good pouring water into a leaking bucket so fix your bucket first.
Please don’t continue working too many hours for too little reward.
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.
I heard this in a PSA (professional Speaking Association) talk and it really resonated.
Are we putting off the joy that we intended when we set up our businesses?
Are we reinvesting our profits for faster growth when we should be taking some of it for ourselves?
Are we spending silly hours working to grow the business faster when we could be spending that time with friends and family (now that we’re allowed out again).
If you knew you only had, say, five or ten years to live how would you spend your time?
It’s been hard through lockdown when there aren’t many fun things to do when you do manage to take time off but it’s a good discipline to build rest time into your week and essential to help you produce better quality work. While you might feel “heroic” right now, in a short time you’ll be burnt out from working 80 hour weeks.
Look for displacement activities so that your brain switches away from work. It’s why I take Spanish lessons.
Look for restful activities. I love to read in a bubbly bath. Either mind improving business books or mind numbing chick lit.
What sort of activities do you usually do to relax and how has that changed during lockdown?
I’m a terrible gardener. Gardening is too active for my lazy days and too sedentary for my active days. Whilst I love eating fruit and veg that I’ve grown myself that goal alone isn’t enough to inspire me to put in the regular labour required even for the few things that I do try to grow.
As you might expect, for me this demonstrates a few things in the business world.
1. You need a Big Hairy Audacious Goal that will really inspire you on your lazy days. Just something ‘nice’ isn’t enough. Have a picture by your work station of your kids, your next holiday, your new car or whatever your reason for your business. In my case I have a seashell on my desk because I want to run my business remotely from somewhere near the sea.
2. You need tasks to do on your lazy days that will still move you closer to your goal. I’m quite happy to fiddle around with an online garden planner and order some seeds and compost. In the office it’s a good time to file or tidy up or clear some old emails. At the moment I’m writing this to avoid some other work but it will save me time later in the week.
3. You can find ways of making laborious tasks more enjoyable. If we’re all in the garden it’s much more fun and the work is shared. Even Grumpy Cat loves to join us outside. Pre-Covid our village ‘Working from Home’ group would spend Friday mornings working in one of the two local pubs.
4. Work at your best times. Whilst it might not suit most people I sometimes enjoy digging in the rain when the soil is softer. It’s another reason I believe in flexible working.
5. Know your limits and outsource where possible. About the only thing that I manage to grow in the garden is courgettes. (And none of the family really like courgettes!) So I order a weekly box of veg from the local farm shop effectively sourcing my fresh food production to somebody who is far better than me. I outsource work to those who are better than me, faster than me or just enjoy it more than me.
Anyway, I’m off to water my new apple tree and blueberry bushes in the hope of keeping them alive just a little longer.
It’s happened to all of us at some time. In spite of our best efforts we have been on the receiving end of some sort of criticism. Here are some ideas on how to handle it:
- Stop. You don’t have to respond fully right now.
- If you must respond now then make it something neutral and agree that you will take their comments on board and give a fuller answer later (if required).
- Allow the emotion to die down. Nobody likes to be criticised. If it helps then get it out of your system by writing a response that will never be spent.
- Bear in mind that they may have had a difficult day/week/year and just lashed out at the first available person. This may not be about you at all.
- Having taken the emotion out can you see if there was a genuine problem or if there is something that might have been misinterpreted as a problem from their point of view?
- Can you do anything to rectify this now or put ego aside to apologise appropriately and compensate if necessary?
- Is there anything that you can put in place to stop the problem recurring on to prevent similar misunderstandings?
- Having learned the lessons go and read some of the positive things from your book of testimonials, awards etc*
- Set the matter aside and get on with your business
I appreciate that this is all a lot easier to type than to do but the important thing is not to inflame the situation further.
*If you don’t already have a Positive Book then start collecting nice comments now ready for when you’re having a down day.