Recently I had lunch with a friend who also is a service provider. She and I were discussing a challenge that she’s facing in her business: either she’s slammed with client work or she has nothing.
Her client work is on this crazy roller coaster, resulting in her exceeding her income goals or falling far short of them. I being the puzzle-solving nerd I am, starting asking her questions and listening to her answers (and what she didn’t say) to see if we could figure out the root of what was causing this cycle.
Here are some of the pieces of the puzzle:
- Her clients love her and praise her work
- Her clients often refer friends and family members after she sends her newsletter
- She sends her newsletter randomly, not on any set schedule and only when she needs work
- When she’s busy, she takes days to respond to potential client inquiries
- She has no method of tracking potential client inquiries
Pretty quickly the puzzle started fitting together in my mind, when she’s busy she’s only focused on delivering a result to her clients – which she does spectacularly. But during that process, she ignores things like keeping in touch with potential or past clients, marketing her business, and setting goals and planning.
Because of this, she’s constantly on the hamster wheel, either feeling overwhelmed with the work on her plate or overwhelmed with the fact she doesn’t have work and is stressed about how the bills will be paid.
“Jobs” in your business
As you may know, I’m a voracious reader and I’ve got probably got a book stored away in the crevices of my mind for most issues that you face. In this instance the concept of sitting down and creating an organization chart and job contracts from the The E-Myth Revisited came to mind [affiliate link].
Gerber’s point is that you should envision your business as it might be. This will look different for each business, for example you might have a CEO, VP of Marketing, VP of Production, VP of Finances, and a single staff member underneath each of the VPs. Or you might have a CEO, a production person, a marketing person, and a finance person. Your org chart probably won’t look the same as mine, and that’s because we each envision our businesses in the long term differently.
He suggests that you sit down and figure out this framework and then create a job contract, which outlines the roles and responsibilities of each of those positions. At the beginning, you’ll sign all of those job contracts yourself, both as the CEO and as the person doing the work. Then when you hire someone for that position, you sign as CEO and have them sign as the person doing the work.
At the beginning, you’ll sign all of those job contracts yourself, both as the CEO and as the person doing the work.
As I was explaining this to my friend, I could see her start to get anxious. And she asked if I was telling her that on top of doing her job already, she needed to tackle four (or five) other jobs?
I told her that I bet when she sat down and went through the exercise she would see that she’s already doing all of these jobs; she’s just not thinking of herself as the marketing person or the client services person. She’s just thinking about crossing things off her to-do list.
How I implement this
I know that for my business when I started thinking this way and structuring my week so that I set aside time to complete each of my “jobs”, things seemed more manageable and gave my business a huge boost in the sustainability direction.
For example, when the statement from my bank or credit card came in, I could stick it on the finance to-do list for when I was wearing my finance hat later in the week. Or when I read that article that seemed interesting about creating a schedule to promote your blog posts not only the day of posting but in the weeks/months ahead, I can file it away in Evernote and revisit it and see how it could apply to my business when I’m in my social media role.
Now many of you may resist schedules, but I’ve been a firm believer for a long time that blocking off time for something and having a routine takes away the chaos and allows your creativity to come forth when it needs to. And when I read The Creative Habit, I was so glad that someone else thought like me [affiliate link].
I’ve been a firm believer for a long time that blocking off time for something and having a routine takes away the chaos and allows your creativity to come forth when it needs to.
So what I did was set a schedule that combined all the roles I was playing in my business with my rhythms of when my brain is functioning at its peak (and when it’s less on the ball). This frees me to focusing on being creative when I’m at my best and to do admin work when I’m less optimal.
I’m constantly tweaking the process. But I’ve got time set aside for each of my ‘departments’ and roles I play in my business. As my staff grows, I’ll make more time for things like planning, but also add in blocks focused on staff development and mentoring (and maybe even work a little less!)
As I told my friend (and in turn you), the bottom line is that I’ve found the only way to bypass the feeling of constantly running on the hamster wheel is to block off time for each of my roles. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s still some days where my to-do list is longer than the time I have available and some nights that I work late. But when I look at my business as a whole, no major area doesn’t get addressed each week and while every last website task might not get done, the important ones do. And really isn’t that all that matters when you are running the show solo?
I’ve found the only way to bypass the feeling of constantly running on the hamster wheel is to block off time for each of my roles.
I’m going to meet up with my friend later this week to see what she thinks of this concept after sitting with it for a few weeks.
But I’m curious; do you think of your business this way? Does this concept resonate with you? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments.