15 Feb 6 Business Rules To Live By
I’m a single mum. I run a home. I have a busy teenage daughter. I manage an small business outsourcing team. And then I manage my own work for clients on a daily basis – so it’s not surprising that I’m often asked just how I manage to do so much. And mostly with a smile on my face.
First, I’m not always smiling and sometimes my endless cups of fennel tea (I also don’t drink any caffeine ever!) go cold and I need to remember to breathe. But it’s not often, as I have a few’ work rules’ I live by that make my business life a lot easier to manage, some of which you might find useful! And if business still feels overwhelming at times, then give us a call and we’ll see how we can help!
I’m really ruthless in terms of doing only those things which are absolutely essential. I say no to a lot, both in work and life. I see a lot of working mums who think they have to be 110% at work or their business, and then crazily volunteer to chair the PTA. We’ve become so awful at saying no. I try hard to become incredibly selective about those things I engage with, so I can be really present for the stuff that I’m doing, and then really engaged with my daughter in a meaningful way. People are trying to accomplish too much, and they’re killing themselves in the process.
I also see a lot of business owners insert themselves in all sorts of activities where it’s probably not necessary. For me that either indicates they don’t trust their teams to work independently, or they think they’re so central they have to be involved in everything. I only work with virtual remote teams and I think I’ve failed if I haven’t empowered my team members to accomplish what they need to on their own. When I worked in a large media company, I learned quickly that everyone is replaceable. The circle closes quickly when people leave. Once you start to realize that, it lets you step away from feeling like you have to be the center of every decision.
Now this is an interesting one. I sometimes want to ‘network’; if I find a business I am interested in working with, I want to find a way to reach out and connect and sometimes that involves networking. But I always say no to more clichéd networking activities. They just make me want to peel my skin off. The last thing in the world I want to do is put s out there in front of a bunch of people I don’t know very well, for what is largely an unmeasurable outcome. A networking life can be a busy one and you could literally spend every night going to some tech meet-up or business dinner. It’s often the same people, and it feels always like they’re there to promote their own agenda, so I apply No.1 to this one unless I’m the one driving it and it has a mutual gain.
Don’t Answer Email
Or more don’t answer every email. I love email and manage several client in-boxes as well as my own. I love it because it allows me to work asynchronously and to consume vast amounts of information rapidly across my business. But unless I’m specifically asked a question, I don’t respond – and endless emails asking for my feedback on my Waitrose Christmas turkey or the latest socks I ordered online are immediately consigned to trash. I just don’t have time.
Say No To Being Inauthentic
I met recently with the corporate events manager of a local venue we use a lot, and as soon as I sat down, she said, ‘It’s really great to see you, but I have to tell you: I’m leaving the company next week. I’m heading to a competitive venue. No one knows except my family and you.’ We then had the most authentic, vulnerable, open conversation. The payoff was purely emotional. I cultivated a personal relationship I’ll continue to nurture and really enjoy. And whether it’s I look at her new venue or not, and we work together again, it doesn’t matter to me. Her willingness to be authentic and vulnerable in that moment allowed me to be authentic.
Say No To Chaining Yourself To a Desk
During a recent publishing deadline for one of our clients, I let myself work incredible hours. I was stressed and exhausted, and on three different occasions my teenage daughter had to beg me to stop working. This was in the holiday season and meant to be family time and I was grumpy and irritable. So I had to make myself stop; make myself say no, not to the client, but to myself. Five days of not checking my phone except for first thing in the morning, long beach walks and some time out I was in a completely different mental place. At important lesson learned. Make sure you take the time to step back, stop, breathe and be sure you are being the best you for you, your business and your family.
Say No to All-Nighters
I noticed early on that if I don’t take notice of my need for sleep, I become a miserable not nice to be around person. I see some of my friends killing themselves and wearing it as a trophy badge that they sleep only four hours a night. Why? We can be incredibly effective and productive, but we’ve also need to rest. I’m of the opinion we should do less and sleep more. I also own far too many pairs of White Company oh so cosy Pyjamas to not take to my bed when I need to!
Alison is the owner and Director of Serenity VA providing marketing and business support services to clients across the globe. For more information see www.serenityva.co.uk Or give us a call! We are always happy to discuss how we can support your business!