Posts Tagged ‘Balance’


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Flexibility and Freedom for Small Business OwnersAs we all get back to work from a long weekend, it’s a good time to talk about freedom – in life and in business.

July 4th represents to me not just a chance to celebrate our nation’s independence but also gratitude for the rights we enjoy. While my parents (the WWII generation) instilled in me a strong appreciation for the freedoms we possess, they also encouraged me to exercise those freedoms thoughtfully.

Entrepreneurs tell me that one of the reasons they chose business ownership was because they wanted flexibility; the ability to do what they want when they want. Yet the most frequent complaint I hear is “I have no life!” Small business owners feel tied to their business 24/7 and ask for more balance in their life. What happened to flexibility and freedom?

Most often, the loss of freedom is self-imposed. My kids have heard me say many times “Everything is a choice.” Although it feels like flexibility at the time, choosing two hour lunches can result in the loss of freedom later at deadline time. That’s the time the business owner feels like they’re working all the time.

Just because we have the right to free speech, it doesn’t mean it is right for us to exercise that right at all times. In the same way, just because we can do household chores in the middle of the day doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. Look at your time from a longer view: what schedule, what work flow, what accomplishments would cause you to feel that you have reached the flexibility and freedom you craved? Personally, I used to get caught up with errands – I hate an undone task lying around! When I realized I was feeling overwhelmed with too much to get done in not enough time, changing that one habit helped tremendously. I now have a small notebook with me to jot down errands and to dos. Clumping them together, or delegating them, has played a part in my reclaiming my flexibility and freedom.

I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend. When it’s time to go back to work, choose wisely. Your freedom is at stake.

   – Helen Dutton, Business Coach

Setting The Stage

It’s the weekend before a very short work week; it makes small business owners quiver in fear. We worry about getting everything done, self-imposed deadlines, and just try to cram as much into our days as we can. The thought of re-entering our office after the holidays is as scary as the thought of all that missed time.

Funny thing is, it’s not the work itself that creates the problem. It’s our mindset and all that “cramming”. Here are a few tips to make a short work week run smoothly:

1. Set the stage. Decide a few days in advance how you want your work week, and time off, to look and feel. While not cast in stone, deciding your work hours ahead of time gives you the parameters of the week. While I’m generally not a big fan of making things fit into boxes, this is time when it makes sense. Draw the lines around your work week; if it’s called work, it needs to fit inside that box.

2. Once you’ve defined the week, set realistic expectations of what you want to accomplish. There is always something more that a business owner wants to achieve, something else they can do (trust me! I’m an expert at wanting to accomplish more!). I’ve decided that I will have a thought provoking strategy call on Monday with my assistant, start sketching out a program, attend one networking event, and complete some writing. That’s it.

3. Extra time off is a great opportunity to let big ideas percolate. I can’t wait for my strategy meeting on Monday; we’ll define action around some open items and we’ll generate great new ideas. The extra time off will clear my mind, allowing those ideas to develop, grow, and begin to take shape. All while I’m spending time with family and eating lots of turkey! Incorporate big picture thinking before extra time off and the picture will gain clarity by the time you return to work.

4. Clear your desk before you leave (try this every day!). Worry less about your work being perfectly organized and more about creating open space. Think of it as “white space” for the brain.

Focus on work when you’re at work; on family and friends when you’re not at work. Setting the stage makes that a whole lot easier.

– 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.