The curse of being of too busy

Small business owners are notoriously busy.  I grew up on a commercial farm with 800 acres of crops and 300 cows to milk and I have managed multiple businesses at the same time.  I know busy.  I know long hours.  I know what it takes to make things run.

All of my clients are busy – from the online sales-based businesses to the farms and machine shops.  Not to mention the inevitable curve balls that crunch your schedule even more, tiny windows of opportunity that force 24 hour days, tax season for CPAs,  the death of a key employee.

The response of just about every business owner to a curve ball is put their head down, pull harder, and work longer.  These are managers who are already too busy to read, too busy to hire new person, too busy to keep up with the never-ending stream of deadlines.  But that’s the coveted work ethic that is hard wired into entrepreneurs.  We make things happen.  Somehow, we find a way to push through and get it done.

When I meet with a client I will often say “Perhaps you are spending too much time working in your business and not enough time working on making the business stand by itself.  What if there is an easier way that you don’t notice because you have your head down and are so focused on the work?”

Here are three changes I made to break the “too busy” cycle and transition to balance in my life.

#1 – I walked away from low margin customers.  After telling a brand new BIG customer three times that I could not meet with them when they wanted because a low margin customer already had something scheduled, I stopped and said you know what, I will make it work to fit your needs.  That move made me more in 2 weeks with the new customer than I did in 2 months with the low margin customer.

#2 – I set aside time to work on MY business and MYSELF.  Not my clients, but me.  Time thinking about what I want the business to give me in return for my time.  Time spent in deliberate learning and expansion of my knowledge base.  I set goals, develop new products, and plan how to reach those goals.

#3 – Focus.  I keep my values, mission, goals, and task list aligned and focused.  I know that 80% of the output of my business is controlled by 20% of the input.  I find that 20% and leverage that knowledge by sharing it with everyone in my business.  I say no to things that are outside of the mission.

You have heard about my journey.  What is yours?



One thought on “The curse of being of too busy

  1. I like this! I’m a social worker with a part-time private practice, as you know. I think my version of this is when I book time away to go to trainings. It’s the same thing – it’s so easy to think, oh, I can’t afford the expense, or to take the few days away, or, people will miss appointments and that will be hard on them. But training a) invigorates me (it’s really fun and exciting to learn new things in the field, and to spend time with others who are as jazzed as I am) b) increases my value on the market c) ultimately likely shortens the time people have to spend with me, as I get more creative and efficient in responding to their needs. So it falls under the “work smarter, not harder” umbrella, but it’s very easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees, as you note here. 🙂

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