The thing that I love about the summer is being able to be outside, feeling the breeze on my skin and the sun on my face. Eating strawberries with a cool drink on hand, and just having time to sit, reflect and be calm. I’ve often said that my definition of happiness involves sitting under a tree with a book, taking time to relax and not having the pressures of work.
Today is one of those days – the garden is beautiful, the sun is out and I’m sat under a parasol, as the garden with the big tree in is a ‘work towards’ at the moment – but as usual my heads is buzzing with ideas, and spurred on by a recent suggestion for a more light-hearted blog post – I will now suggest how time in your garden can help you re-energise your business.
1. Are there things in your garden that shouldn’t be there?
A broken wheelbarrow, a few discarded toys and a plant pot that your brother gave you, that you actually don’t like very much. Rather like your garden, your workspace can become cluttered with things that don’t belong, or add no value to your everyday life. Do you have a project or task that, like the broken wheelbarrow you are putting off dealing with? If this is the case then there will be a reason.
Maybe the task, once you got into it, was not what you thought and was not going to achieve what you planned. Maybe you need to ask for help, and don’t want to appear vulnerable by admitting that you can’t do it on your own. Either way, you should work out if you’re going to finish it, or not. And if not, you should feel confident to discard it and move on – having it sat there in the corner of your garden (or your in-tray) just adds that feeling that you should do it – which distracts from what you actually could be doing to further your business (or life) goals.
Same goes for other people’s stuff left in your space, offer them the opportunity to retrieve it, and if not move it to a place that is out of sight and not placing you under pressure. Files of paperwork relating to potential clients, who are not currently ready to go ahead with my recommendation (due to timing / budget) or people not sufficiently motivated/not aligned with my way of working get moved from my desk to either the ‘waiting’ , ‘possibly interested’ or ‘duds’ file in my drawer. If they call back in the future, then their file is to hand, but I don’t feel under pressure to do anything further for them at present.
2. Have the cats been digging in the flowerbeds (again)?
Now, I’m a cat owner, and love them dearly, but they do have this irritating habit of digging up the flowerbeds and to me there are 2 ways of dealing with this.
- Get angry, shout at the cat / chase it away, spray water at it – and then complain about how cats always dig up the plants (my cat-tolerating husband favours this approach) or
- Plant sufficient shrubs and ground covering plants, that the soil visible for digging is minimised, and so they dig elsewhere.
In terms of business, this is about your business challenges and competitors. You can either get angry and complain when these things happen, or you can take steps to prevent or minimise their frequency and impact. There will always be some things that take you completely by surprise but as I discussed in an earlier blog post, there is much you can prepare for. Ensure that you are not entirely reliant on one type of customer for your income, and keep your eyes and ears open, ready to take action if needed.
3. Do you like sitting in your garden?
Do you like what you do? Is it fulfilling, profitable and creating a positive impact in the world. Does it give you a sense of calm (on the whole) or leave you stressed, burned out and wishing you could retire tomorrow?
If you had £1 million in the bank and you were looking to buy a business – would you buy yours?
Are there changes that you could make to increase the enjoyment of your garden for you and those around you? How much better would your business be if you loved being there every day and were able to work at maximum efficiency?
4. Who would you like in the garden with you?
Your friends and supporters are a key part of life, and having people special to share your journey with is for most people what brings them the most joy. In business, this should meant that you have the full support of your wife, husband and family – from experience, I can say that if this is missing it has a massive impact on your business, its growth and both your performance and your motivation to succeed.
They may have good reason to be wary or concerned, for example, if this is your 5th wonderful business idea in 3 years and your lack of regular income is causing financial stress to the family, or if you are involved in something immoral or illegal. Or it could just be that you’ve not taken the time to explain your vision/ motivation and get them on board, or they could just be someone who having been paid monthly in the same job for 20 years, doesn’t grasp how (or why) entrepreneurship is the path that you’ve chosen.
Whichever way you look at it, setting up and running a business entirely on your own is going to be a struggle. If need be, find another support network – your friends and family are great but try to surround yourself with likeminded business people that you can learn from and bounce ideas off – which is considerably less drastic than getting another husband!
5. Do you have a picture in your head of how you would like your garden to look?
I think that boundaries and goals are important, but that there has to be some element of flexibility and change and that when it comes to your business, trying to micromanage it, or your staff is the worst possible thing that you can do.
It’s fine to have a flowerbed in your garden, and decide where it should be, its size and shape and that it should be filled with flowers – but you need to be flexible about the flowers planted – especially if you’re paying someone else to plant it for you. In this example, you may specify a colour scheme and budget, or give them free rein, but you need to let them get on with it within the boundaries that you have given. This means their choice of supplier, and whether you get roses or violets and how many of each – they may even bring you something you hadn’t considered which will work much better in the space provided.
The biggest killer of staff morale is feeling that whatever you do it will be wrong, or scrutinised and that you’re not recognised for the good work and decisions that you’ve made. Let them share their ideas and suggestions and ask them what would make this task easier / their day more productive / our business function more effectively.
Yes, I said OUR business, because if your staff are not truly aligned with your vision and feel part of what you want to achieve within the business, you cannot hope to have their full commitment to doing their best every day.
So if you’ve set clear boundaries of which tasks they should do, and what the outcomes should be, you need to let them do it in the way they feel most appropriate. Always let them know that your door is open should they need help, but then let them do their job – and you do yours!
In a great business, everyone understands their role and responsibilities and is given the authority to do the things that they need to. If you’ve read the E-myth, you’ll know that this still applies if there is only you in your business, you need to balance your roles as you the worker, you the manager and you the entrepreneur to ensure that your business becomes sustainable and that you don’t get stuck with having ‘a job’ where you are simply a worker, working for yourself.
If you’d like help with this, please get in touch to chat about my series of financial intelligence webinars where I’ve already used to help people like you move their business on to the next level.