Entrepreneurs have an increasingly & socially accepted problem. They get into business for time & money, but find out that the more money they make, the less time they have. The cost of "freedom" is freedom. It just doesn't make sense.
Entrepreneurial denial is easy to step into. You can talk to your friends & family about "this is what it takes" or "I'm building my brand" as you give them another reason NOT to show up for the occasion. Event worse, to sit at the dinner table distracted because you didn't send those 10 emails. So, you are waiting for your spouse to go to sleep so you can work some more.
This is NOT the life we wanted when we set out to work for ourselves. How do we recognize if our business is in a growth cycle or if it is just running our lives? Then, how do we fix it.
1. You spend your day in response mode or putting out fires.
In business, you have to address issues. Things come up. However, if your day is spent in dealing with other peoples struggles, your process is broken. Often times, it means you have partnered or hired the wrong people. You lost the vision of how this works & you settled for what is good enough. When your business process is fluid & the people you interact with are like-minded, the situations that require you to respond are less frequent.
2. You struggle sticking to a schedule.
Schedule is the number one tool that makes top level entrepreneurs highly productive. If your schedule looks more like a never ending to-do list, then you are not on a schedule or tasks that move the needle. A schedule is there to allow for emergencies, but, most importantly, to keep a high focus on the tasks that bring revenue. It's a constant priority meter that allow a quick & easy comparison for what needs attention. The To-Do List model will gravitate you to what is easiest on the list rather than what drives your business.
3. Know your numbers.
If you aren't controlling your P&L, then your business is running your life. I have a weekly visit with my bank accounts & revenue sheets to keep an eye on my numbers & my activities. If you're saying "but I have a bookkeeper" I applaud you. You have a little leverage. If you aren't still looking into your numbers, you are making a mistake. Bookkeepers are human. They make mistakes. They have little or no vested interest in the business. You, as the CEO, need to know your numbers to have the ability to adjust them as you grow or shrink. Growth should not be a surprise. It should be planned & expected.
4. Take the rewards.
It is all too common for an entrepreneur to boast about having no vacation time. If you go back to why you started the business, taking no vacations was not one of them. This doesn't mean you don't work hard, it means that you at 100% over 4 days is far better than you at 70% over 7 days. The entrepreneurs who never take the rewards will burn out, sacrifice relationships for money & will find themselves at a similar crossroads they were at when they left corporate. If you are not rewarding yourself as you grow your business, you won't enjoy the journey as much. That is the secret sauce to entrepreneurship. Enjoy the ride!
No one expects to start a business & not work hard. However, we have this built-in idea that we need to "hustle" or "grind" our way to a mediocre life. It's just not true. You can have a great work ethic, build a great business & create the life you want without choosing success or failure. Taking a vacation doesn't make your business fail unless you have set-up a bad business. Working 3 days a week & earning more than you did in your corporate job is not a dream, it is real. Yet, we focus on the million bucks & we miss the fun we could have at $100k.
Start running your business & stop letting your business run you.