The cost of success: How to balance your focus
This article appears in the Sep/Oct 2014 issue of Business Franchise Australia & New Zealand
It’s not that often as business owners we talk openly about the cost of success. For most of us we keep our game face on and rarely expose the other side.
Regardless of whether you’ve been in business for a short time or as long as me or perhaps even longer, you will have some idea that there can be a huge cost to success and it can creep up from nowhere if you don’t take deliberate action to ensure you keep your focus balanced between business and life.
If you’re unfamiliar with my story let me give you a quick snapshot. I started in business at the age of 20 with my husband Simon. He was an electrician and like any young couple we had a dream to create success early on in life. We set out on our adventure of building an Electrical Contracting business. Running a business with many staff doesn’t come without a lot of hard work and long hours. We always had a belief that success would come as a result of our hard work and commitment to best practice. All we had to do was bring the customer in, provide an exceptional service and then keep them coming back for more. Repeat and referral business came effortlessly as we built a solid reputation in the marketplace. We doubled and tripled our business year after year and when we couldn’t keep up with the work we simply grew our team. Things were going very well, we had it all so we thought… great friends, great income, a five acre property, luxury car, two gorgeous kids, good health, a great marriage and friendship and a successful business. What more could we ask for?
We were young, and at the time we thought we had the rest of our lives to enjoy the fruits of our labour, so we were willing to work hard and that we did, working very long hours. Sure there was some down time and that was spent with our family and friends, but now, as a business coach and consultant looking back on how things were, our focus was completely out of balance.
My husband sadly passed away in 1999 and reality set in that we didn’t have the rest of our lives to enjoy the fruits of our labour. The gift is in the present moment, in the now. There is definitely a cost to success if your focus in unbalanced. Since then I have made it my life’s mission to help business owners grow, leverage and even franchise their business so they can build momentum faster, maximise their potential and create more time to do the things they love and want.
So today, let’s explore some quick ways that you can balance your focus, avoid looking at the downside to success and help you create a business and life you love.
Know your why and balance your priorities
I love the teachings of Thought Leader Simon Sinek. Simon says it starts with Why. Knowing your why leads to inspired action. Why do you get up every day and do what you do? Is it to make a difference? Is it for your children? Is it for you? There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s a personal thing, however knowing your why acts as a driving force leading to inspired action and inspired action leads to you moving towards fulfillment. Fulfillment has never been lopsided; it’s always balanced so this serves as a reminder of what’s important to you in all areas of business and life. If your why is for your children, then that means your children are a high priority in your life, so why do so many business owners work way too many hours and then realise they haven’t spent quality time to make a real impact in their children’s lives.
If you don’t know your why, take some time to reflect and get connected to your why. While you are working on that I encourage you to write down your top ten priorities in your business and life. Put business on one side and life on the other. If they’re not balanced then you’ve got some work to do. Putting your priorities in a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual plan will provide some structure around what you want to achieve and need to achieve in the specific time frames. Planning provides a clear process to prioritise the activities that need to be done to ensure you achieve your business outcomes and leave room for the balance in your life.
Where are you at right now?
Before you can make a change in anything it’s important to start with where you are right now. On a piece of paper answer the following questions:
• How many hours do you work per day or per week?
• How many business related items are on your to do list vs how many personal items?
• How often do you check your emails after hours?
• Do you get through your daily activities with nothing left to do?
• How many hours do you spend working after hours?
• How often do you see friends and family?
• How many quality time hours do you spend with your spouse and kids or other close family members?
• How many hours per week/month do you spend on YOU? Meditation, Quiet, Reflective time, Massage, relax time.
• How many times a week do you exercise?
• How often are you eating out?
• How do you naturally respond to stress?
In other words what behaviours naturally come to the surface?
Now you know where you’re at right now, it’s time to write down what you’re prefer instead. Be honest with yourself and focus only on you. Don’t think about how it’s going to happen, just focus on what it is you want. We will cover the How briefly next.
Decide and commit
Make a decision about when you will start to live your balanced life. A bit like goal setting be sure you put a date to it. It’s no use just dreaming about it and wishing for it.
Make a decision to change.
Commit to taking consistent daily action towards achieving your new balanced life. Being committed means you will do whatever it takes compared with just being interested which will see most doing what’s convenient. Do whatever it takes to make those daily changes towards what it is you want. It may be you finish at five every day or it may be you stay back half hour longer so when you get home you focus on you and your family. Whatever it is be sure you make a commitment and take consistent action.
Plan and prioritise
Planning and prioritising has been underestimated for centuries. Those who do it well, reap the rewards many times over.
• Plan annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily.
• Review the plan every quarter to ensure you’re on track.
• Have a clear process to prioritise the activities that need to be done to ensure you move closer to your goals, not further away.
• Follow the rule of five - learn to eliminate time wasting activities and implement the Rule of Five by streamlining your focus and spending time only on tasks that will reap you the largest reward:
- What has to happen tomorrow?
- Who do I have to call, see or spend time with?
- Where do I need to allocate my efforts for the day (business and personally).
By writing it down and by ensuring you include your personal priorities too you will start each day knowing exactly what you should be doing in the time you have, so you can start living a life outside of your work rather than your life just being your work.
Systemise and automate
In today’s fast paced world its imperative you systemise what you can and automate where you can. There are top systems out there to support you and the tasks you regularly perform. Take some time to determine what tasks are you doing over and over again that could be managed better, that could be systemised so you can delegate more freely or you can completely automate. Systemising and automating your business will give you your time back so you can start to live a life outside of your business.
Some key areas to systemise and automate are lead generation and converting it. This is an important key area. Many business owners are working long hours to generate more leads. Stop chasing leads and instead turn to automating client attraction. This will bring in more ideal clients and literally put your lead generation on autopilot. Lead nurturing and customer care is also vitally important so be sure this process is well laid out and systemised. Systemisation and automation will not only free up your time it will reduce the number of staff you need in your business, increase profitability and enable you to confidently delegate or have a task managed with confidence automatically so you have more time to do the things you love.
Delegate more of what you do
For most of us, delegating can seem to be more time consuming than doing the task ourselves. If you can successfully systemise and automate some key areas of your business, delegating will come easily and effortlessly as team members in house and those outsourced will be able to follow the systems and the processes to ensure the task is completed in the way you expect.
Learn to lead and build culture
Learn to become a true leader. Gone are the days where being seen to be working longer hours makes you a better businessperson. In fact the opposite is said to be true. It’s about efficiency and with a world that is leaning towards more people focusing on balance, job sharing, four day work weeks, school hour shifts etc, it’s time you get into the flow of being more efficient and leading the way in the change.
By leading the way and using leadership to build a new culture you will gradually reeducate your staff, your clients and suppliers about the new way of doing business. By becoming more efficient, delegating, systemising and automating you will build a high performance culture, seize the day for what it is and give yourself more time to do the things that matter most to you.
Be the change
It’s important to be the change. Don’t expect 100 per cent change overnight. Commit to taking daily consistent action and making a shift even it’s just a 1 per cent shift every day will see you achieve so much more than you ever thought possible. Later never comes, so be sure you take advantage of today. As I always say Carpe Diem! which means seize the day!
Tania Allen is the founder of Vision Alliance and consults to small businesses and individuals worldwide in a number of key areas including business growth, sales and marketing, franchising, increasing efficiency, systemisation and balancing your focus. She is a highly sought after keynote speaker, author and coach.
With a personal mission to inspire, empower, motivate and to make a difference to the lives of business owners and individuals worldwide, Tania now shares her message, her business and life successes and failures so that business owners and individuals can maximise their potential and truly get more out of business and more out of life. For support in your business contact Tania:
P: 1300 76 49 20