Posts Tagged ‘Balance’

How To Be More Effective Tomorrow; Strategy For Balance


Starbucks has a “Happy Spring” gift card available right now, and it made me smile. Those first Spring days make my heart jump a little and I grin from ear to ear. When I was in corporate America, I promised myself that when I owned my own business my strategy would be to declare the first spring day as a company holiday. I’d encourage everyone to take a walk, to look for flowers shooting up, to lift their face to the sun and be thankful.

New Hampshire is enjoying those early spring days yet I’ve spent the last several days inside. Today will be different. Sure, I could spend another day at my desk but to what end? How much better off will my business and I be by what I accomplish inside? What will happen if I take a walk? What will the consequence be if I play hooky and look for early crocuses? I may not cross as much off my to-do list, but my thoughts will be clearer.

Years ago my first coach gave me the assignment of taking a day off with nothing planned for it, no strategy, not even picking up the dry cleaning. Nothing. For the first hour I went a little stir crazy but then I found a new rhythm and my day flowed easily. Back at work the next day, I mapped out a sales and marketing strategy for a product our sales team had been struggling with. One by one, our sales team came and watched as I sketched out the strategy – there was excitement in their voices and a couple of them even went off and started executing. I hadn’t actively spent time thinking about the product or anything to do with work, yet this innovative approach just fell out of me. I got the lesson my coach wanted me to learn: a clear, relaxed mind is more productive than a stressed, over-worked one.

It’s supposed to reach 64 degrees today. If you’re on the East Coast, you are probably experiencing a similar glimpse of spring. Go take a walk. You’ll be amazed at what it can do for your business.



 – Helen Dutton, Business Coach

You Can’t Afford NOT to Hire

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For Hire

“Wait, you’re thinking. You’ve got it all wrong. I can’t afford to hire.”

Hiring additional employees, and especially your first employee, is a decision most often postponed by business owners. “I can’t afford it” is the battle cry but I wonder how many business owners have actually calculated the affordability. Instead, it’s a general statement that allows us to put off taking action. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there.

Of course, the first piece of information needed is an understanding of what you need to hire for, what tasks are best done by someone other than you. To answer this question, you first need to know how you are currently spending your time. Track your time for a few days, recording everything, and I mean everything! The first time I did this, I realized how much time of the work day I spent driving my kids around. My first hire? A dynamite babysitter who I now consider my “oldest son”. Gaining two hours a day for three days a week gave me six hours that I now fill with writing, client time, and sometimes, sitting in my office reading chair getting caught up on the never ending pile of books. If I had listened to my fear, “I can’t afford it” would have been loud and clear. Instead, I weighed all that I would gain against the $60 per week and it was an obvious answer. Although this first hire was not directly for my business it gave me the ability to provide more quality time both in my business and with my family.

My second hire added business capabilities that previously didn’t exist. I knew my time was best spent on my unique talents – coaching, speaking, and helping business owners see their livelihood through a new set of lenses. Sure, I could muddle through the tasks I outsourced, but that would have been my fear running my business, rather than my strengths. Instead, I pay an expert to handle what she’s best at while I spend more time doing what I do best. It’s simple math: my hourly rate is more than what I pay to outsource per hour. Of course, it’s critical that I use those hours productively, using my given talents.

Take a stand for your business and your unique talents; get comfortable with the value of your abilities and you’ll hear yourself saying, “I can’t afford to not hire!”


– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

‘Tis The Season!

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This season,

  • Mend a quarrel.
  • Seek out a forgotten friend.
  • Dismiss suspicion, and replace it with trust.
  • Write a love letter.
  • Share some treasure.
  • Give a soft answer.
  • Encourage youth.
  • Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.
  • Keep a promise.
  • Find the time.
  • Forgo a grudge.
  • Forgive an enemy.
  • Listen.
  • Apologize if you were wrong.
  • Try to understand.
  • Flout envy.
  • Examine your demands on others.
  • Think first of someone else.
  • Appreciate.
  • Be kind, be gentle.
  • Laugh a little. Laugh a little more.
  • Deserve confidence.
  • Take up arms against malice.
  • Decry complacency.
  • Express your gratitude.
  • Say a prayer.
  • Welcome a stranger.
  • Gladden the heart of a child.
  • Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
  • Speak your love. Speak it again. Speak it still once again.

Wishing you and your family a very Happy Holidays! – Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Mandated Work Life Balance

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This summer, a federal district court in New York dismissed a pregnancy discrimination case (EEOC v Bloomberg LP, SDNY, August 16, 2011, Preska, L.), stating that “the law does not mandate work-life balance”; and, “it is not the role of the courts to dictate a healthy balance for all”. It got me to thinking about all the business owners who have told me over the years that “they just can’t get away for vacation” or “they can’t take time off because of work”. Wait a minute: if they’re the owner, don’t they set the rules? Can’t they mandate work life balance if they want it?

Some say that there’s no such thing as work life balance so let me give you my definition. If an individual is deep down happy with the amount of time spent on professional as well as personal endeavors, I call that balanced. Some call that “harmony”. I think of it like the tide: sometimes work takes more time and energy and sometimes life takes more time and energy. There’s an ebb and a flow but in the long run, they even out just like the tide does. For example, I’ve learned that May is a busy month for my family. Rather than fight it, I go with it and schedule my work load a little lighter that month and make up for it on either end.

Finding work-life equilibrium is about making choices. If you constantly feel pressured to return calls, submit proposals, create more offerings, or provide information to someone, ask yourself these questions:

  • How do I set expectations with others?
  • Are there tasks I could delegate, tasks better suited to someone else?
  • Does being busy make me feel important?
  • If I took more time off or worked fewer hours, am I worried about what others might think?

A federal judge can’t dictate a healthy balance for all; you, on the other hand, can dictate it for yourself.

– Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.