How to escape from your business owning you – the first steps

picture by Fort Photo 

Having your own business, being the entrepreneur conjures up imagery of independence, freedom, wide open spaces and a path to prosperity.

If that’s the case, how come I keep talking to business owners that are feeling trapped, closed in and overwhelmed with all the stuff they have to do?  They spend most of their time (and then some) fighting fires, trying to keep up with day to day activities and even though they are doing well and still make progress, it’s often in spite of what they’re doing.

In short, they don’t own their business, their business owns them.

Is there any way out of this predicament?

Imagine you are in the middle of a big desert, with nothing but scrub brush, dirt and rolling plains in sight no matter what direction you look.

Without any clear landmarks, you are likely going to be wandering aimlessly, covering a lot of the same ground over and over again.

Now imagine a beautiful mountain range in the distance, with the promise of water, trees, shelter (maybe a gold mine or two).  Furthermore, imagine a road, dwindling in the distance leading directly towards the mountains and the peace and prosperity they promise.

It’s still going to be a difficult journey, you can’t see all of the low spots in the road, the conditions are still pretty rugged and frankly it’s a long way to go to get to those mountains, but you’ve got a clear direction.  It’s unlikely that you’ll be wasting a lot of time and effort and going in circles – why would you go anywhere but down the road towards your goal?

Although this is an overly simplistic analogy (I didn’t even get to talk about the wolf packs or the dangerous snakes…) there are an awful lot of business owners that have a great business with a lot of potential, but without a real vision on where they want to go.

Carve out some quality time

The first step is to stop wandering and carve out some time and some focus to figure out what you really want.

If you’re like a lot of people, your first thought is likely…”I’m not working 70, 80+ hours a week because I want to, I’m doing it because I have to – how can I possibly carve out any extra time?”

I guess the way I would look at it is:  How can you afford to NOT carve out some time?  By now you probably know that you’re spinning your wheels and not really making progress.  Unless you do something to change the equation, you are going to get the same results, the same frustrations that you’ve had before this.  This is where having the support of someone else can really help get you out of your rut.

The 80/20 rule says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions.  If you can figure out that critical 20%, you ought be able to free up a couple hours a week that you can use for thinking big thoughts.  It’s like going to the gym – for most people, if you don’t block out the time in your schedule, you’re not likely to go.  But once you block out that time, you find out that you can compensate and make it to the gym and still get stuff done…as long as it’s a priority.

Create  your vision

Once you’ve got some time to start thinking big thoughts, the next step is to really develop a vision that is important to you.  It has to have an emotional component and it needs to paint a vivid image that will not only motivate you (and your team) but also be detailed enough to fill in a lot of the textures and colors that make it real.

As an example, it’s not effective to simply say “I want to make a lot of money”, you need to address why you want to make a lot of money, what it will mean to you, how it will make you feel, what “a lot of money” actually is ($200K, $2 Million, $200 Million?).  All of those could be described as a lot of money by someone, but they would lead to very different kinds of visions.

Finally, the last step in this process of thinking big thoughts is to identify at least a high level what your roadmap is to achieving that vision.  You’ll fill in the details later, but at least for starters you need to develop a picture of the road that will get you to the mountains.  From there, you can start developing specific short term goals and steps that you can take action on.

In summary:

  1. Carve out at least a couple of hours a week to think big thoughts
  2. Consider getting some help (maybe from a coach…) to help you focus and brainstorm
  3. Develop a vision that’s meaningful to you and is detailed (and written down)
  4. Develop a high level roadmap on how you will get from where you are today to your vision.

Do you have big thoughts (that you’ve written down and shared) on your business?  There’s no time like the present to take this on as a challenge and stop wandering around in the desert.  Share your thoughts here on what it would take for you to get that vision going?

Shawn Kinkade

3 thoughts on “How to escape from your business owning you – the first steps”

  1. Jackie Nees says:

    Great post Shawn. This is exactly what I try to get across to prospective clients about the benefits of working with a Virtual Assistant. By delegating some of the workload, business owners can carve out that time you spoke of to focus on thinking big, or whatever else needs to be focused on. Thank you for sharing.

    Jackie Nees

  2. Jackie,

    Thanks for the comment – a virtual assistant is a great example of how to carve out some time to start this process…and keep it going!


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