20% of business owners interviewed didn’t have a single day off that year.
Ah, another bank holiday approaches and all over the UK those SME’s closing down for 3 days are scuttling round like blue-arsed flies. (Where does that expression come from? Anyone?)
There’s nothing like an approaching holiday to instil a sense of urgency. I know I seem to get tonnes more done in the week leading up to a holiday; my brain seems to find a sixth gear from somewhere. Okay I think I’ve mixed enough metaphors, moving on!
I was trying to find some stats relating to business owners taking holidays or not taking them. In one report, research revealed that around 20% of UK business owners interviewed didn’t have a single day off that year. 52% took five days or less and well over half of those worked while they were away.
I like to think I’m as passionate about my work as the next person and many days it doesn’t feel like work because I love what I do. So I work hard but I do make sure that my planning is for life first and business second. As a fan of Stephen Covey’s, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ I know that I need to ‘regularly sharpen the saw’. This isn’t just about burnout, or always having energy and focus to give my best. It’s about relationships, pursuing favourite hobbies and pastimes and having a full and enriched life.
I don’t think success is all about money. I think it’s about making a difference to the lives of those around you - loved ones, clients and communities and also living your own life to the full. To achieve any of that I need freedom.
Two main things help me strive towards that goal:
Small business owners are clearly passionate about what they do, so it’s no surprise that they find it hard to leave work behind on holiday. It can be a challenge also to totally switch off from work as technology has made it so much easier to stay in touch. It is crucial to take proper breaks to achieve an enriched life and avoid business burn out.
Do one thing: Unless your business directly benefits from bank holiday weekends, take well-earned time off to recharge your batteries. If you find yourself using the time to catch up or get ahead, have a think of what you could change to give yourself that time freedom.
Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!
I read a great quote by Clare Balding the other day about Pep Guardiola. She wrote, “He (Pep) is the manager not just of a team of players but also of backroom staff whom he always values, praises and thanks. He is a leader who makes them all believe the impossible is possible.”
It just got me thinking about how bosses and managers treat their ‘backroom’ team. One of my pet hates over the years is hearing a manager giving someone a task and apologise for it. How does that person then feel? How can they take pride in their job and feel any sort of fulfilment? I’ve seen it in managers who want to be liked or are worried about a possible reaction, “I’m really sorry to have to ask you to do this…’’
Now I’m not suggesting they do a Tarzan swing and ‘big-up’ a simple or repetitive job but rather to explain to people how their role fits in to the bigger picture. You may think cleaning toilets isn’t much of a job. Okay now imagine you work in an office and they’re not cleaned! I know many people who judge an eatery not just by its food and service but also by its toilets. Have you ever come back from the loo and raved about it or returned to your table vowing never to return to the restaurant?
We had a US vice president at McDonald’s who would always make the toilets his first port of call when checking out a restaurant. Not for a call of nature but to make sure they were so clean that he could eat his burger off the toilet floor. (I wonder if he ever did?)
People want to feel that they belong, that they’re valued, that they are part of the business and that they make a difference to its success. I heard a story recently where a school had called a meeting about its future but had just invited teachers to it. Not the facilities people or the grounds team, those people without whom the teaching couldn’t happen. How to quickly make people feel they don’t count!
On the other hand, I know someone who made a point of working late a few times a week to catch the cleaners coming in so she could learn their names, thank them in person and explain the difference they made to the working environment and the business’s success. Yes, these people were employed by an Agency, but she felt they were still part of the team. She would also insist on clear desks and work areas every night explaining that it made it easier for the cleaners and to get her team members to appreciate their work.
An old boss of mine used to love telling the tale of the man he used to pass regularly on his way to work pushing his dustcart round London streets. He was so impressed that this guy was always smiling, acknowledging people as he passed. His cart was decorated and the pride he took in his work oozed from his pores. Imagine if the person giving him that task had been apologetic rather than explaining that the first impression people get of a city is its clean streets.
So going back to Guardiola, I imagine that when he has a team meeting which is about the future, rather than next week’s tactics, he invites the whole team. And what is so great about it is that the extremes in that team would be hard to replicate in most SME’s; famous multi-millionaires and the person who cuts the grass being inspired by the boss about the future of the club.
Do one thing: make time to ask your team members individually how they think their role impacts the business. If they don’t know, then there’s your chance.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week.
Can you remember back to your school days?
I’m sure for some of us it will be easier than for others! Remember how you’d answer a question, but even though it was technically right, it wasn’t the one the teacher was looking for?
Q. What is ‘hard water’?
A. Ice (of course!)
See what I mean?
There was only ever one right answer at school - imagine what that did for your creativity and your confidence.
Many people, and you may be one of them, grow up believing that they’re not creative, but I’m a strong believer that trying to be creative makes us creative. It gets the under-used side of our brain up and running, the side that’s been lying dormant possibly since childhood.
I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said,
“We don’t stop playing because we grow up, we grow up because we stop playing”.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you go out french skipping at lunchtime or kicking a ball against a wall (though then again, why not?) but start playing at work; playing with ideas.
Here’s a couple of ideas that will not only get the creative juices flowing but will also add value to your business.
Idea Pooling: how you can improve your Customer experience maybe or how you can attract more of your perfect Customers.
Gather your team, no ‘wrong’ answers, just as many ideas as you can think of, sane or wacky - get them all down and then pick out the gems. You’ll see people building on the ideas of others and gaining confidence that anything goes and no one is sitting in judgement. As well as providing original ideas it’s also a great team building exercise; just keep the energy high and have fun!
Mind-maps: I love. They are a great way to generate new and creative ideas, I so wish I’d known about them when I was at school. Such a great tool for revising and particularly for generating ideas when you’re planning.
A mind-map gets us thinking in almost a chaotic way, allowing us to go off in all sorts of different directions, like a spider’s web. It snaps us out of that linear way of thinking which is more ordered and restrictive.
I bet you know someone who you think of as an ‘ideas’ person. Well the truth is we are all ‘ideas people’, we just need to give the creative side of our brain a bit of regular exercise. Just make a start and keep practising. I’m telling you, you’ll be amazed.
I wonder where the creative children who gave these ‘wrong answers’ are now?
Q. How can you delay milk turning sour?
A. Keep it in the cow
Q. Explain what you most like about Kipling?
A. Almond slices
Q. How do you change centimetres into metres?
A. Remove ‘centi’.
Do one thing: Have some fun this week!
P.S. Great systems are a great foundation for you and the creative people in your business. They take care of the nuts and bolts of business to give you time to get those creative juices flowing.
‘Great systems are not chains to tie you down they are wings to help you fly’.
For more information on how MPL can help you visit www.mariannepage.co.uk or contact me on
Does your other half complain that they see too much of you?
Do your kids groan ‘cos you’re taking them out for the day, again?
Are you the number one invite on your friends’ social calendar?
Do you never take your laptop on holiday with you?
So you’re telling me you don’t have all the time in the world?!
Then let me ask you this: do you own your business, or does it own you?
We had a meeting with a new client recently, and we asked him how he felt about his business. He paused for such a long time I can remember thinking, ‘this is going to be a loooong day’, and then he said just one word:
“This ‘job’ - that’s what I call it now, totally owns me. It dictates my mood; my appetite, my energy levels. I think about it all the time. I lie awake fretting about it. It feels like my entire life is being sucked into a big black hole.
“I went out on my own to have more freedom - to spend more time with my wife and kids, and look at me now - working every hour God sends.
“Everyone told me I needed a team, but all that’s done is increase my workload - the tax, the paperwork, keeping on top of them. I’m sure right now they’ll be glued to their phones cos I’m not there. Arghhh….”
Of course he’s not unusual.
In fact he could be a poster boy for the small successful business owner! Maybe he’s just like you?
You started small, right? Built a really great business, had loads of fun doing it, started taking people on. It was all ok for you too at first, and then… the wheels came off. You lost your consistency, you lost your belief that people would perform for you, you began to work longer and longer hours to keep on top of everything.
But, and this may surprise you, even ‘the youth of today’ don’t come to work with the sole purpose of pissing you off. Nobody plans to have a bad day or do a bad job, especially not the people you hand-picked for your business.
The change you’re looking for doesn’t start with your people, it starts with you.
You want freedom, particularly time freedom? Then build strong foundations, that free your people first.
Strong foundations built around:
Your Plans - showing your team what the destination is, and how you’re going to reach it together - the route map for them to follow
Your Processes - having a set way of doing what you do - a system for everything
Your People - only hiring people who match your values, and fit your team, and then training them to follow your set way of doing things
Your Performance Management - taking every opportunity to give constructive feedback, to correct, to praise. Having regular performance reviews that reward excellence
Successful business is built on the consistent performance of high performing teams who know where they’re going and follow the business systems to take them there. Look to McDonald’s, to Virgin, to Apple if you doubt what I’m saying.
And you can have this too. Put your energy into building your foundations, and you will find your freedom.
Do one thing: take a look at your life and your business and decide if it’s time to change.
Thanks for reading :)
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)