How to Get Time On Your Side
So you’re looking for some more time away from your business; certainly a very reasonable request. I’m sure you’re working your butt off. And 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 like the business is running you vs the other way around.
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 like my client Greg – more about Greg later.
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?
Now my goal here is certainly not to commiserate with your situation and give you a shoulder to cry on. My goal is to give you some answers. The good news for you is, working your butt off 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. There is a path and I can show it to you. Stick with me here and will I guide you through it.
WARNING: What I’m promising here is absolutely possible AND it does require work. This is not a magic wand solution. Anyone pitching you a quick fix is full of it. Now I know you are already working hard but that’s not the kind of work I’m talking about. I’m talking about the ‘making changes’ kind of work. The kind that can make you feel uncomfortable. The exact amount of work is going to vary depending on how far progressed you are.
Your First Steps
For you to get time freedom from your business there are 4 key components that need to be in place. These are the big items. Within each there is a ton of detail, but let me give you the big picture. The 4 keys to your freedom are:
1. Profitability and good cash flow
2. A Great Team.
3. Processes, Systems and Reporting and Accountability.
4. Your willingness to let go (this is often the hardest. Be sure to read Helen’s case study below)
The long and the short is MONEY is the first thing you need to have in place. If you are not making a decent profit then you won’t be able to hire good people or invest in infrastructure. That leads to being restricted in growing 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 employees to take the workload off you.
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 the outsider, they think making money is everything. You have learned it is good to have money but not much good if you have no free time to use 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 – 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. We do need more than people but if we had to pick a key as the next one to address I’m picking People over Systems.
A Great Team can run a business with limited systems. But average people can still screw up Great Systems. The positive impact a Great Team can have on the stress levels of a business owner is tremendous. It can be a game changer. AND they help you build the right systems too.
So let’s take a look at your team. This is where you ask yourself the question “if I had to start again tomorrow and I needed the exact same number of people as I have today, would I rehire the same people?”
If the answer is not all yes’s, then working on your team might be one of the steps you need to look at. For your business to run well while you are not there, you need to have people who are competent and you can trust.
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?”
And Yes I’m talking about You. So often we see an owner who is frustrated with their team, yet upon some gentle questioning we start to learn that perhaps the owners leadership style (or lack of) is really the key reason behind the teams apparent non-performance. This can be a hard thing to see on your own.
When we work with our clients, we use some objective tools to help us get an unbiased view on their leadership. Perhaps this makes you a little nervous? Either way, take a look at the team page to see if this is an area that should be on your shortlist of areas to address.
“Thanks to Jamie, I am now able to keep focus in my business
by putting aside the time to work on the right things which get
results; rather than trying to manage every aspect myself.
In turn, this has helped make me a better leader”
Owner – Supperworks Waterloo
One last point on team before we move on.
If you have a great team now, consider this one last thought. Do you have a consistent way to find and recruit new people for the team who will fit the culture? If recruitment is not systematized it can be an area that you may come unstuck. It is also important that your system for hiring not be reliant on you. If you’d like to learn more about that, take a peak 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 3rd key – Systems. You know you have good systems if things are running efficiently with minimal errors and things happen consistently even with key people away. Actually what this shows is you have good operational systems.
But there are other important systems to have in place to enable you to run your business effectively and have time. One of the reasons business owners don’t have the time regardless of having a business that runs well is that they feel they need to be there to know what is going on. They want to make sure it is all running properly and it is not going to fall apart.
More than anything, being present in the business gives a business owner a sense of security. Which is completely understandable and natural. I mean you’ve spent such a huge portion of your time building this great business; you want to make sure it is safe!
One of the ways you can alleviate the need to be there is to have better transparency through reporting. If you have great reporting and things truly are running smoothly then skip ahead to Key #4 – Letting go.
The reporting is key so you can have some eyes on the business without being completely hands on. In every business there are key metrics that can be measured and will give you insights into the way things are running. Metrics and reporting never tell you the whole story but they provide warning signals and a temperature gauge that tells the astute business owner where they need to ask further questions.
“I was able to take my first real holiday in 17yrs. I was away
(phone off) from the business for 2.5 weeks and when I returned
sales for that month were 70% up over same time last year”
Owner – Central Industrial Solutions
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 it really is when confronted with the reality of leaving your business for long periods.
Truth be told there are many reasons and each is specific to each person but the underlying principles to get you the heck out of there are all the same. Here we dive into some of the belief patterns that have formed over the years and help to reframe 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 more have done it before you. This is not new ground.
If what you have read here resonates and somewhere inside you know this all makes sense for you, then your next step is to connect with me for a conversation. That conversation will be a chance for us to learn a little more about each other and establish the right next steps for you.
While all that is written in these introductory pages outlines a path and some concrete steps to move you forward, doing so on your own is easier said than done. I’ve witnessed many who start with good intentions and ambitions of ‘doing it on their own’ and years later find themselves in exactly the same place.
Take the step and see how having an outside set of eyes can help you see things differently and keep you focused on the important things.
The best in the world in their respective field rely on advisors, coaches and trainers because they know to operate in isolation is a fools path. No one achieves high levels of success on their own. Everyone has blind spots, and your blind spots are keeping you where you are. Let me show them to you … you’ll find it enlightening I guarantee it.