Updated: Mar 18
So, your business is steadily growing but it’s slow and not hitting the high targets you had envisioned. You worker harder because you have a lifestyle to fund, promises you’ve made to important people and responsibilities to take care of.
I’ve been there and it almost cost me my relationship and perhaps even my sanity at one point. Due to my constant stress, a state of survival became my default mode and 7 working days a week would roll into 4 weeks per month and the time evaporated into thin air with not much to show except battle scars.
One conversation with my coach changed all this for me. It forced me to stop and realise I had no free time, no social interaction, I wasn’t enjoying anything in my life and on top of that, the business wasn’t growing the way I wanted it to anyway. The very business I had created for a better life was actually destroying it.
So why carry on? How can you continue to do the same thing over and over and expect different results?
Insanity is doing the same over and over again and expecting different results.
- Albert Einstein
If you’re a parent, how similar would you say is raising a child compared to starting and growing a business? Not identical by any means but there are many emotional similarities and responsibilities and thanks to that conversation I had, I finally understood; my baby had to begin walking on its own two feet or someone else had to start taking better care of it.
As a founder, stepping away from your business can be unthinkable at a certain moment in time because you don't believe the baby is strong enough to walk. You're afraid it's going to fall and injure itself. You have to be there, constantly, nursing and caring for it.
You might be thinking, "It’s hard enough delegating, let alone giving up day to day operations...", and that's absolutely right but what's worse; continuing with the struggle which drains essential energy and precious time (to your and the company's detriment), or start letting the baby walk and guide it gently to soften the inevitable falls?
So when and how do you draw the line? 3 suggestions:
Take stock of your current situation. List what is working and what clearly isn’t. On the "Not working" side, either eliminate or delegate immediately and gain some immediate relief.
Next, create two, “What’s most important to me” lists; one for the business and one for personal life and begin to focus on the top two most important values, only.
Another way to do this is by going through the Pareto Principle but whichever you do, our aim is to clear away what’s irrelevant and focus on what truly moves the needle.
Once you’ve got clarity around what's most important in those areas (which could take weeks), start putting up boundaries to protect and serve those priorities. This could look like blocking out time in the calendar, reducing irrelevant meetings or calls and even taking one day off a week. That's right, I said it: Take - a - day - off! Ever heard of Freedom Friday?
This is the hardest part. You know what needs to be done and you’re creating the time and space to do it but actually doing it consistently over time, is hard. You’ll get “urgent” calls and emails requiring your presence, or a decision will need to be made and you’re the only one who can do it. How can you resist the burning urge to respond when you’re the captain of the ship?
Understand: the ship won't sink just because you’re not on deck.
Create your boundaries and put in systems to maintain them and fill the newly created extra time with the top two values on your “What’s most important to me” list.
It’s hard at first and you will fail but once you recall how good it feels to have a personal life and enjoy it with people you care about, you’ll soon get comfortable and forget all about those urgent texts that can suddenly wait until tomorrow…
You don't have to drop the baby at all. Gently guide it, one step at a time, until it walks freely without you.
PS If your business is taking over your life, it's time you and I had a conversation.