“Are you stuck on the hamster wheel?”
As a small business owner, driven and determined as you are, to succeed in your industry, field or niche, you’ll probably find that you’re going to have your hands full from time to time.
You’re going to be busy.
I mean, that’s the measure of success, right?
That’s why, when faced with the clichéd question…” Are you busy?” so many of us are guilty of replying with any one of these classics:
- “Yes mate, snowed under”
- “Crazy busy”
- “I’ve not stopped”
- “I’m flying around like a blue arsed fly!”
There are others of course, some a little more ‘colloquial’ than others, but the point is that we feel obliged to say just how busy we are, even when that might not be the case.
It’s as if it would be an admission of defeat to say anything else.
But then again, what if it is true? As it may well be for many of us.
Is being rushed off your feet a good measure of how successful your business is?
You might meet yourself coming backwards, as they say, find that your head is constantly spinning, or need to stick a brush up your backside and sweep the floor whilst you’re at it.
Pick any cliché or saying you like; they all mean the same thing.
Chances are, that you have been working harder, instead of smarter.
The analogy we like at 2080e, is the idea that small business owners can find themselves on a hamster wheel, throwing themselves into every aspect of their work with enviable energy and admirable enthusiasm.
The problem with the hamster wheel though, as many a pet rodent has found out, is that no matter how hard you work, or for how long you keep at it, you never seem to get anywhere.
The first stage of addressing this problem is to realise that you have it.
Are you doing more than you can possibly maintain? Does the ‘to do’ list just keep getting bigger and bigger, even as you tick things off?
It’s time to work smarter, instead of harder.
In his book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’, Timothy Ferriss gives an insight into how business owners can condense the work they do into smaller and smaller amounts of time, and crucially, headspace.
Now, we’re not for one minute suggesting that the ‘4 hour work week’ is a realistic goal for everyone out there, but the ideas that it is inspired by, are ideas we can all take something from.
You can be busy, but you can be a busy fool. No one wants to be a fool of any kind.
A great starting point for business owners, is to draw up some kind of chart, table or list that indicates approximately how much time is spent on doing certain things within the business.
You need to be a lot more specific though, than saying something like – Admin, 5 hours per week.
Think of each individual task as something worth timing.
How long do you spend replying to emails?
How many times do you need to chase up an invoice?
Do you drive to and from the suppliers? How long does that take?
When you have a fair and accurate summary of the time that each facet of running your business takes, then you can start to think practically about how you can address this.
Email responses, can you automate these, and then schedule two hours per week to follow them up properly?
Invoices, are they professional enough to ensure that companies and individuals pay immediately, so you don’t have to do any chasing up?
All that driving, could you use couriers? Could you employ someone to do it for you?
Listen, we know that you care about each and every part of your business. You want to ensure that every cog turns with the same efficiency as the rest of them, and maybe feel that if you want it doing right, you might as well do it yourself.
We completely understand all of that.
But finding the right help, accessing the right support, and listening to the right advice, could ease your concerns about the want and need to do absolutely everything, all by yourself.
‘Outsourcing’ though, can be scary.
It’s like dropping your children off at a brand-new school or nursery, and wondering if they’ll get the same level of care and support that they would at home, or at their last setting.
You usually find though, that when you pick them up, they’ve had ‘the best day ever’, and come out with a million and one things that they’ve made, dirt on their clothes and bumps on their head. They’ve had a great time. Because the teachers, assistants and nursery workers are focused solely on your children, and on ensuring they have as fulfilling a day as possible, with activities and opportunities that would’ve been hard to emulate at home.
Your business might not be as precious as your kids, well, hopefully it isn’t, but when you ‘drop things off’ to do with your business, to the right people, in the right places, and at the right time, you will find that these things start to run more smoothly, operate with greater efficiency, and guess what…even save you time.
That’s because accountants do accounts.
Drivers do driving.
The IT guys do the IT guy stuff.
2080e gives you the reassurance that it’s OK to use these professionals, and signposts you to the ones that can make a positive impact on your business.
We’re not going to make any apologies for the sheer number of clichés, analogies and comparisons in this post, as they all have their merit, we’re simply going to end with one final one…
Working harder equates to running on that hamster wheel, putting lots in, but ultimately, getting nowhere fast.
Working smarter places you in the hamster ball, where your hard work pays off, and you become the master of your own destiny, able to choose which direction you travel in, how quickly you want to get there, and hey, once you get the ball rolling, soon enough, you can stop running and let the journey take care of itself.