When your business doesn’t quite work it’s easy to put your head down and just keep slogging away. In my experience, this avoidance tactic is about the worst thing you can do, because it’s not your clients who pay the price – it’s your loved ones.
“What do you mean, my loved ones pay the price?” I hear you say. “I’m the one working the long hours and wearing the stress of having to hold it all together. I’m the one who has the pressure of trying to cover all my costs and generate enough income to help pay the bills at home. Surely my loved ones should be feeling sorry for me, not the other way around?”
On behalf of your partner and/or children I’m going to disagree.
The truth is, it’s not that bad for you (yet). If you’re like me, you enjoy your work and so even when it’s bad, it’s not that bad. But for your family, this is not the case.
Your family love you, but not necessarily your job. They want you around, especially on special occasions, and they need you to be present when you’re with them, not distracted or preoccupied with your business.
It’s sometimes easy to tell yourself “I’m building something for the future”, whilst telling your family “it’ll be better next year.”
If you really want to build something for the future and for things to be better next year, you have to start now, because it’s not only your loved ones that deserve better – you do, too!
The good news is that you can resolve the issues that make your business difficult to run fairly easily. Surely the goal has got to be a business that works for you (and your family), rather than one that you work tirelessly for.
How do you break the cycle?
1. Get honest with yourself
It’s only by being brutally honest about where you’re at that you’ll find your new way forward. If you’ve been doing it your way for a long time and it’s still not working, it’s time to try it another way, or to contemplate some decisions that, to this point, you have rejected outright.
2. Follow your own processes
If you’ve taken the time to create processes within your organisation and expect your staff to follow them diligently, then you need to do the same. In my experience, it’s the owners who are least likely to follow the processes they’ve created and it leads to stress and frustration in the back office.
3. Lead by example
Like it or not, you’re a leader. Leaders need to lead…by example. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to show people what good looks like. If you want your team to be self-improving, then you need to show them that you are, too. If you want your team to manage their time better, then manage your time better.
4. Hold yourself accountable
Most business owners I know have had a moan at one time or another about staff that don’t hold themselves accountable for their performance. Yet, the worst offenders in most small firms are the owners themselves.
Creating accountability for you (the owner) is all about putting the right structure in place. Establish a formal board, or hire a non-exec or some other external party that you report to. No one likes to ‘fess up to not doing the things they said they would, so create a structure that keeps you on track.
5. Get some help if you need it
Following the above four tips will get you going, but you may then uncover some issues that really do require expert input. If that’s the case, then rent or buy some expertise and solve whatever it is that needs solving. Better still, create a team of experts that you can lean on to deal with the things that are business-critical, but perhaps not your core skill.
No one succeeds on their own. Assemble your own great team and watch the quality of your business and, more importantly, your life improve out of sight.
Life’s too short and your kids grow up too fast. Please don’t miss the stuff that really matters in life by getting lost in a business that doesn’t work.
Fix it and create a lifestyle that allows you and your loved ones to enjoy the fruits of your labours.