Have you ever heard the saying ‘The cobbler always wears the worst shoes’? There are a few variations of it, sometimes it’s the cobbler’s wife or children with the dodgy footwear, but the meaning is always the same: often, those closest to someone don’t benefit from that person’s expertise.
I once found myself on a Discovery Call, listening to someone tell me that they were struggling with their time management. It’s a story I often hear: a founder/entrepreneur is so busy working in their business, that they don’t have time to work on it.
I talked them through some of the ways I could help, and as I hung up from the call took a quick look at my calendar to schedule a follow-up mail to them. Eventually I found a half-hour gap 6 weeks in the future at 10.30pm on a Saturday, as my time till then was taken up with work tasks, meetings, and the odd gap for family life. Sleep was crammed in on a random Tuesday for a few hours, if I was lucky!
OK, that might be something of an exaggeration, but the point is: it can happen to the best of us. We can all be the Cobbler with the hole in our shoe. In my case I was so entrenched in doing those jobs needed to keep the company going, that I wasn’t doing the ones that would help the business grow, such as following up on leads, potentially letting good new business walk out the door.
So what’s the solution?
“You cannot put the same shoe on every foot” Publilius Syrus.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ fix, not in reality, but that important first step is to stop, take a moment and admit the fact that your boots are letting in water. Are you the business coach not taking their own advice about expansion and growth? Perhaps you’re the software developer who hasn’t backed up the system properly in weeks. (Don’t feel too bad about that, Pixar nearly lost Toy Story 2 for that very reason!)
In my case, I was able to see what the problem was, and walk myself back far enough to the point where I could start putting the right building blocks and processes in place to stop my calendar looking like something that would give even the toughest CEO nightmares. Talking through it with a colleague who was able to give me some accountability really helped as well – there’s nothing like having someone tease you for not taking your own advice to give you some perspective!
If your trainers are looking a bit past their best but you don’t know what to do about it, get in touch. I’ve been in your shoes, I can walk the walk, and I’m as tough as old boots (OK, I’ll stop now). If you want to explore how to create the focus you need to build your business, then please get in touch or book in a call at jamespotten.com/businessgrowth
How’s your work/life balance looking these days?
I talked recently about the need to take regular breaks from work (Link to Quarterly Rhythms), and it generated some interesting conversations within our network: primarily, what to do when you know you need to take a break from work but you’re a victim of your own success, there just isn’t enough hours in the day, never mind taking a week off!
It’s a common problem. You work your backside off to get business and truly deliver for your clients, only to create a rod for your own back. The client gets used to you being available and to having direct access to you, and because you care, you find it hard to change the dynamic.
Here’s a bold suggestion – make yourself less accessible!
Now, I don’t mean you should start ghosting the person who’s paying your company bills, but I do mean introduce some boundaries.
Start slowly. Stop answering emails on the weekend. Let your client know that you won’t be answering comms after 5pm on a Friday. If you can, stop answering emails after hours during the week. Look at them, by all means. Draft a response, but don’t send it until a time that suits you (or use the schedule feature). Get the client out of the habit of expecting an out of hours response.
If you’re taking a week off, give your client plenty of notice that you won’t be available. Loop them into a conversation with the member of your team best placed to look after them when you’re off. Set your out of office. If you absolutely must check your mails, fine. But if you respond to them, understand that the message that you’re sending out may erode the boundaries you’ve started to put in place. If you don’t respect your own rules, how can you expect anyone else to?
Of course you’re going to get pushback. Clients love knowing they can get hold of you at any given time and there will always be situations where you are needed urgently. But if you help with forming new habits, introduce processes, like ticketing systems (that get a more timely and developed response), then eventually your clients will get used to the new boundaries you have in place.
Implement those boundaries with any new clients and let your team pick up the slack. You owe it to them, your clients and to the business to be on your A-game, and you can’t perform at your peak if you’re burnt out.
If you still don’t think that would work, or the idea of switching your phone off for an evening gives you a panic attack, then ask yourself why that is? Could it be that you need your clients to need you?
We all like to feel important, and when it’s your company it’s easy to believe that it will all fall apart without you there to keep everything running. But if that really is the case, then you need to take a serious look at your business foundations! Have you really put together a team and systems that can’t manage without you, or are you worried that your workforce is so good that you’re starting to feel like a spare part?
Everything I’ve said here requires some pretty serious self-reflection (& I did joke with my actual clients that this was not written with them in mind!!), but if you don’t know where to start then give me a call.
We’re not just about helping leaders scale their businesses, we want you to be able to lead an unshackled life in a business that thrives without you in the day-to-day.
If you want to explore how this could happen for you, please book in a Discovery Call today – jamespotten.com/businessgrowth
When you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before, do you plan your journey beforehand, looking at the most efficient route, booking your tickets (or making sure the car’s not going to break down halfway down the motorway), or do you just wing it, leave the house and trust that the Travel Gods will smile upon you and you’ll get there eventually?
That might seem like a ridiculous question, but if you apply the metaphor to your own business, you’d be surprised how many people are travelling without a map in a beaten-up old jalopy, or are rocking up at the airport, hoping that someone will point them towards a plane heading in the right direction.
As counterintuitive as it seems, focusing solely on the destination is never the best strategy.
Obviously a leader has to consider results – you have to know where the company is going, you have to know what the future looks like and you have to have a thorough understanding of what the key numbers are in your organisation. But do you ever think about how you’re going to achieve those results?
Maybe it’s time to stop thinking about the destination and concentrate on the journey instead. I don’t think I can ever say this enough: you can’t just think about the What, you have to consider the How. It’s critical: time after time I see the frustration that comes from only focusing on the end product, only to find that the final outcome isn’t anything like what was intended.
In a car, you could seek to use technology such as sat nav to ensure you’re able to get to your destination with the most up-to-date information on traffic on that day. The same should be applied to your business: make sure your systems and tools are allowing your company to navigate in the here and now.
How are your team working? Do you have the systems and technology to get visibility to see how you’re your team are performing?
Take time to reflect on how you can change your own outlook, as well as the company culture. Are you doing everything you can do for your team members to help them perform at their best level? How do you translate your goals and targets into something actionable for them? Have they got the right tools in place? Is the company environment supportive enough for people to do their jobs?
It’s not easy to turn a critical eye on either yourself or your methodology. But be brutal. Ask yourself the difficult questions: have you got the right team in place? Are key pieces of strategy falling through the cracks because you’ve got tunnel vision about who’s doing what?
When it comes to progress and growth, it’s not just about unlocking the potential of your business, you need to know how to unlock the potential of each member of your team and allow them to achieve their own results. Commit to creating both performance and personal development plans for everyone in the company, and don’t assume that one plan fits all – what works for one, won’t work for everyone (and if it does, maybe it’s time to introduce some diversity).
If there’s a disconnect in what you would like vs what you need to do to make it happen, it’s not as hard as it might seem to make the small changes that lead to big results. Book in a Discovery call today to find out how I can help you – https://jamespotten.com/contact/