Plate Spinning Like a Pro’6th May 2017
For lots of folk who work, run their own business, manage a life and often fulfil yet more responsibilities, one of the key skills that must be mastered is that of, metaphorical, plate spinning. Managing to keep everything running smoothly, meeting the sometimes conflicting demands of family and business whilst also having time to let your own hair down, at least now and then, takes some talent.
The tips below may help a hard pressed entrepreneur keep all those plates spinning smoothly.
I often hear people say that family is a priority, and that is probably true for the majority, but if you run your own business that is often a priority as well. Of course many of us may have other demands upon our time and energies, ageing parents, hobbies or organisations we have a commitment to, not to mention friends and perhaps partners. The key is deciding each month, week or even day what your particular priorities are within those different and often competing spheres. So if your little one is starting a new school, or perhaps isn’t well then they will be a number one priority for a time. If you are going through a period of expansion in your business, or have staff away, then for a time that becomes a priority. Priorities change and an effective approach is usually one that is flexible but one where you have clearly identified your priorities.
Communicate Your Priorities
We have probably all had experience of problems being caused simply by poor communication. If you have identified a particular priority, then make sure you communicate it to whoever it will have an impact upon. Even young children can often understand the concept that mum or dad is going to be very busy with their business–for a couple of weeks. Similarly unless you run your business alone then letting other folk know that you may be around a little less or checking emails a little less frequently because ya relative is ill, or you childminder is away, or it’s school holidays – will often prevent anyone feeling put out.
Don’t Confuse Quality with Quantity
We all know the people in our lives that we value, those relationships that we would feel lost without. However busy we are it is important to make sure we sustain those relationships. But that doesn’t need to take hours – when it comes to showing people how much you value them, focus and interest are more important than hours. So if you are having an afternoon with your children, or a meal out with a friend, turn off the phone and devote some undivided attention to them, it is usually far more effective than several hours of half-hearted involvement.
Be Explicit About Help
Thankfully most of us have our own support networks, friends, families, partners or business associates and yet sometimes we cause ourselves problems by not letting them know what they can do to support us. Sometimes it might be as simple as telling them that we are having a really busy time so we just won’t be able to accept as many social invites as before, or explaining to a partner that they’ll have to do the putting to bed of the children, or the shopping for a couple of weeks. In my experience the people we are close to actually want to help us, they can usually tell we are stretched but don’t always know the best thing to do. So just take a deep breath and tell them what would be most helpful.
Don’t Be Afraid to Out-Source
Sometimes businesses simply stop going forward because we are reticent about outsourcing. Our businesses are precious to us and it is often hard to delegate, same with our families but if you find yourself spending a lot of time doing things that really don’t require your very particular skills then maybe it’s time to outsource some of those tasks. If ever you are turning down high value activities because you haven’t the time then think about paying someone else to help out – it could be some admin from a virtual office or even someone to clean the house, if that releases you to earn more by using your skills then it is probably worth doing.
One of the things I discovered about running my own business is that there are a lot of people who want to give advice. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes it comes with a price and of course it is of variable quality and it may not apply to your own particular business. However don’t dismiss it all out of hand because there are some nuggets out there. I remember someone I trusted told me I should double the price I was charging for a particular service. Yes that’s right double it. I did and clients were still happy to pay, but I would have probably just inched up the price little by little by little and it would have taken a lot longer to increase earnings the way I wanted to. So don’t take it all but do sift through both the formal advice and the throw away comments, especially if they come from someone who is experiencing the kind of business success that you want to enjoy.
Me Time Is A MUST
When I first started my own business I remember saying to a friend how I worked far longer hours, earned a lot less than when I had been working as an employee BUT wouldn’t swap it for the world. Owning or running a business is not for everyone but it can be extremely worthwhile and of course when it is your business you are building it is very usual to work extremely long hours and go the extra mile, especially in the beginning. But it is not sustainable. Whatever pattern of work you adopt, and however you choose to meet all the other demands in your life as a business-woman and a mum looking after yourself is not optional it is a MUST. So develop a pattern of regular times to refresh yourself, maybe a slot at the gym, drinks with friends, a weekend away with your partner, or a coffee and a good book. But whatever it is make sure you can fit it in regularly. Don’t see it as a waste of time, it’s often when we are away from the situation that we can see things with more clarity and you would be surprised at how many good business ideas can come from some ‘down time’.
So take these tips and use them in the way that works for you – making sure you can keep all those plates spinning and not let one that you value crash and break!