Of course, running your own business is a “walk in the park”. Time is your friend; you can take as much time off as you want. You can come and go as you please. You have nobody telling you what to do. You can earn what you want.
For the uninitiated, the above can actually be a very real perception. The reality though, for so many business owners/Directors, is somewhat different.
Sure, we all aim to be in control as much as possible and have the option to choose how we work, but the business can be all consuming.
The comments below are what I often hear from business owners when we begin our planning programme:-
- I never have enough time.
- I don’t take as many holidays as my employees
- I more often than not, work long hours.
- The buck stops with me and I often have to put my hand in my pocket to support the business.
- I don’t have enough time to follow my hobbies and keep fit.
In the early years of establishing a business, the demands are huge. If a business owner doesn’t wish to add to the statistic of ‘1 in 3 businesses failing in the first 3 years’, then the business tends to dominate their life. Yet, as the business matures, the business owner has ideally more control and freedom.
Business owners, is this your reality?
In my experience of dealing with many business owners, in their quest to take the business to another level, the business continues to impose significant demands and the business owner has to try and run faster and faster as the ‘gradient on the treadmill’ gradually gets steeper and steeper. Then, if that wasn’t demanding enough already, a crisis comes along which then really tests your ‘fitness’!
I have to confess to failings here myself. I was, and still am, a workaholic, but the difference now is that I no longer see myself as a slave to my business. The first step in getting off the treadmill is to recognise your behaviours in the first place. In my case, I was looking after everyone else but wasn’t spending enough time evaluating what was important to me and indeed my family. I know I’m not alone here.
I decided to work with a mentor, in this case, @BrettDavidson. Brett was someone to talk with, someone to challenge me, someone who helped me think about what was possible and someone to nurture me along the way.
In fact, this is exactly what I do for my clients but sometimes it’s difficult to see “the wood for the trees” yourself, when you are so close to everything.
The first step in getting off the treadmill is to recognise your behaviours in the first place.
The result… the recruitment of a key person to help me run the company, which has probably released me from 50 % of my work load. That’s why I’m now able to dedicate time to this blog! I now spend my energies looking after key clients and driving the business forward. In other words, playing to my strengths.
It’s worth remembering that if the business grinds you down and we begin to feel mediocre, we are likely to have a mediocre impact on those around us. Read @DrJamesRouse for more on this.
If you are a business owner, I would encourage you to dedicate timeout from your business and consider what you want your business to deliver. Understand what success means to you…it means different things to different people! Work out how you want to live your life and then calculate how much money you need and when. This may dictate when, how and if, you sell the company.
In other words, have a plan and take more control!
Business owners…. What is success to you? Do you have a well thought out plan and exit strategy for your business?
In January alone, I have been approached by three different business owners, all very different, but with very similar issues. In essence, they all want to know ‘their number’. How much they need and when, so that they can live the life they want?
They’ve been running their business for a significant period of time. To most, they are very successful. Yet, in all cases, they are struggling with the work/ life balance that is, to varying degrees, having an adverse impact on the family.
My advice has been two fold in the broader context:-
Introduce good business management and reduce the dependency upon you, the business owner. Think about employing someone to take away the load from you personally.
You can’t afford it?…try considering your own personal wealth outside of the business and not see this as a separate silo. Create an integrated plan and you’ll be surprised as to what’s possible. I would suggest that you can’t afford not to take someone on, if you want to improve your quality of life!
Create your own personal plan for you and your family. Get the family involved, at the very least your partner. Your business is the engine to you achieving your goals. Put simply, it is a means to an end, not the be all and end all of your existence.
Effective Financial Planning is the gateway to the rest of your life.
Call me for a free ‘check in’ to see if we can help.
One of the people I follow on Twitter is @DanielPriestley. Daniel is, by his own description, an Entrepreneur and bestselling author of a number of books including ‘Key Person of Influence’. I have found Daniel inspiring and well worth following. Recently I completed his Key Person of Influence Scorecard. If you are a business owner, you may find this of real help.