So you decided to work for yourself instead of someone else. Working independently or creating your own business was supposed to give you freedom, chance to do things your way, and give you the financial freedom you deserve not to mention be fun! Entrepreneurship says Natalie MacNeil, contributor for Forbes magazine is especially an attractive choice for women. Yet, for many men and women, running their own business proves to be a struggle leaving them with more stress, no free time and questioning their decision.
I work with many people in corporate roles and there they are used to working long hours, weekends when project crunch comes around which by the way happens at least every month. However, they can justify their work stress with a good size bonus and a personal mantra “Just another 3-5 years and then I’ll quit”. But being your own boss means no pension, bonuses, or other company perks unless you’re making it happen! It can be tough and lonely and calls for massive resilience, discipline and strength. It’s by far the best training ground to prove to yourself what you’re made off but if you’re struggling here’s what I learned having decided to set up my own company recently and also combining my insights from coaching other leaders in business as well as creatives and entrepreneurs at different stages of their journeys.
Everyone talks about getting more done in less time but the reality is that the shear amount of tasks to be done for many people starting out is simply massive! It often will take 7 days plus many nights to get through even a small fraction. Add to this the time to research, network, promote, and consolidate what’s working, it is hard to imagine having a family, partner or any life. This is made worse by people in the start up world that will tell you that working this hard is normal and that if you can’t then you’re simply not cut out to be an entrepreneur. But as a coach and mentor to many people that ‘made it’ as well as those that burned out and came to see me broken, I don’t think this is true
Success is a journey not a destination. As many top and inspirational entrepreneurs such as our Dragon Den characters and others show up, there is no ‘end’. True entrepreneurs don’t aim to get rich quick and quit. They continuously grow and identify new opportunities so it is key to learn not to exhaust and burnout and find a way to enjoy the process.In a recent summit of most powerful women though, many said positive messages but looked embittered by the struggle to ‘make it’! I don’t think this is right. What I like about Natalie’s picture in Forbes is her smile and a sense of fun.
So how can this be done?
Here are 3 simple yet highly effective ways of making this happen. In my experience and working as a coach to people with very busy lives, if you follow this simple recipe you will not only succeed but also enjoy it. It’s a three-prong approach meaning that you need to do all three in parallel. Below I name each one and offer you an example from my own life at the moment.
1. Establish a cut off point for work – “I start at 6am and stop at 7pm”
Being able to have a clear boundary will help you balance work and life and ensure that work doesn’t spill out into every hour of the day and night. Setting a boundary will also help you focus your mental and physical energy on work and what needs to be done with more purpose making you more effective! Finally, having a start and finish time will help you feel empowered and in control, elevating your confidence and self-belief that you can indeed do it!
2. Identify and tackle your business linchpin – “Make money with a simple seminar”
No business will survive unless you’re making money and a profit. In the coaching industry, many coaches are reported to earn between £2-5000 per annum. Now, no one can make a living on this and good business advice would be to either step it up or find something else to do. But in many other businesses, the same is true. The business simply doesn’t make money even if it has a substantial turnover.
As a self employed person your job is to make enough money to give you a respectable salary, cover your holidays and sick days and allow you to buy a pension plan and private health insurance to say the least. If you’re successful, your income should also allow you to grow and be able to hire others and offer them the same benefits. And to do all that whilst having fun and doing what you do best! For this to happen, you need to focus on your key business linchpin and make that your key priority.
In all my experiences as a coach and mentor this is easy to identify but often it’s the very thing people don’t want to do! The same was true for me. I’ve been focusing on long term strategy and ideas that would take months or years to implement instead of taking the next small practical steps to make things happen in the short term. It’s as simple as remembering that to get big you have to first be small and that to walk and run you first have to crawl. We can’t cheat the natural nature of things. So in my case that’s creating a seminar that people can attend and get to know me, my work and expertise that I’d like to share with them so they can make time count and create their success. What’s your linchpin?
3. Experiences that give you pleasure and fun – “Schedule a car trip through Wales”
No entrepreneur I know can stop working unless they have fun activities they can do as rewards. Best fun in my view are experiences – things you do whether that’s trying ballooning, kite surfing, tasting a Michelin star meal, joining others in a fun experience or simply creating a sumptuous, sexy, romantic experience to share with your partner. Unless these are planned and injected into your life, they will always fit in a ‘someday’ column and rob you of fun and pleasure.
One of my clients told me their financial worth which was in millions yet this person has just decided to have some fun now! A bit sad given that most of their life is already behind them. They amassed a great deal of wealth but are now focused on frantically enjoying it which has created stress. Inspired by my recent trip to Spain and being driven in a lovely car, I am currently planning a car trip to Wales and investigating lovely B&Bs I can stay in along the way and taking a similar trip in Scilly next month. I love driving 🙂 After all, what’s the point of working hard if we don’t have fun?
Last year I wrote a book to help people become more productive after running workshops for five years and seeing how we all get entrapped in unproductive states working hard and getting little achieved while life runs away. I love getting person letters about the impact the book has had on different people from working Mums to business leaders to entrepreneurs and professionals. Here’s one example from last week:
“I would like to share with you some reflections from reading and DOING your piece. It is so good in inspirational, often refreshing. I have many has and the good part are exercises so it naturally smoothly transfers to doing and exploring myself.I actually find it so good that decided to share with my SAS colleagues in Western Europe, see part of HR news for the summer: would like to share an inspiration for summer reading from my private collection. An amazing personal toolbox, pragmatic, refreshingly holistic, insightful, to be applied in any sphere of our life, to break patterns and be clear in our thinking: ‘Get Productive!: Boosting Your Productivity And Getting Things Done’ ” – Anna
I invite you to get your own copy of Get Productive! and work through it. Mastering every exercises in the book will transform how you show up and the results you achieve. It is the basis of all my leadership programmes and personal effectiveness conditioning work with coaching clients.
This Autumn, you can join me for a Get Productive! evening Masterclass to help you retrain your brain and get more done so you can make time for you and fun. Events will be announced on this site and through Eventbrite in the next two weeks.
In the meantime, set boundaries, tackle linchpins and schedule experiences to make time count! And if you would like to receive a Free Personal Development Workbook for entrepreneurs to support your experience and growth please e-mail me.
Wishing you lots of success,