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Managing the Human Being Behind the Business

It’s a common problem and we’ve all seen it – business owners that are just ‘too busy’ all of the time, and as a result, do not enjoy the success in business they had hoped for. Let’s not kid ourselves, there is a lot to focus on: technology, employees, sales, marketing and so on. These functions are essential and need to be well organised and managed.

But there is a second aspect to business success that is often overlooked – the effectiveness of the person running the show. Businesses are a reflection of the people who run them. If those people are ‘too busy’, stressed, or poorly organised, then these characteristics are reflected back in the business. The underlying behaviour and values of the business owner drive how much control they need, how they will delegate and how they use their time.

Growth of the business and the business owner need to match up.

Any business that does not grow will ultimately decline. This may sound black and white but it is true. Growth can mean different things depending on the owner. For some it may be growth in revenues, for others it may be expanding product lines, or increasing the distribution channels. Whatever the definition of growth is, if it is not well thought out and planned, the business will soon become marginal and eventually fail, dragging the owner with it.

If the business is to grow, then the owner has to take the necessary time to learn the new roles and skills that a growing business will demand. Imagine for one moment where you would like your business to be in 5 years time. Then ask yourself: “Is it possible that I can be exactly the same person in 5 years that I am today and fulfil that growth strategy for my business? The answer has to be no. Business owners need to be prepared for new learning and taking on new, different, and bigger responsibilities – without fear or hesitation. The reality is the owner will be the limiting factor in growth – the business can only grow to the extent to which the owner grows.

When owners feel out of sorts, overworked, and like they are running faster and faster, it is almost always because they have fallen victim to the reactive “let’s go faster” management approach. They are forced to live from problem to problem, and as a result are unsuccessful and may become unwilling to see their own (lack of) self-management as part of the problem.

The major reasons that business owners don’t manage themselves better are:

* Being comfortable – we all do what we are comfortable with – it’s human nature. So we keep doing what we have always done.
* Not knowing what else is possible.
* Not knowing that there are other ways to do what they are doing.
* Actually getting energy (and maybe some identity) from being stressed and overworked.

There are 5 steps to take in the road to better self-management:

1. Clarify personal goals for the future.

Many business owners lose sight of these as they get immersed in the day-to-day running of the business. Articulating your personal goals can reveal any issues about whether these support or conflict with their business goals. These goals need to cover both the immediate and future plans. What do you want to achieve personally in the next 1 to 2 years. And where do you want to be in ten years time?

2. Clarify the business goals.

Having spent some time expressing personal goals for the future, take a look at your business goals and rethink them. Are your personal and business goals working together, or are they working against each other? If they do seem to be mutually exclusive, what choices will you make next? Putting the business goals ahead of your personal ones will inevitably lead to stress and feelings of overwhelm. Determine instead whether the business goals can be re-oriented or modified to support what you would like to achieve personally.

3. Identify the owner’s ideal role 3 years from now.

Think about who you want to be – what role you want to have in the business – in 3 years time. Will you still be doing the majority of work? Will you have others doing the work and your capacity is more advisory? Or perhaps you would like to remove yourself completely from the operational parts of the business and focus on product or business development?

Thinking about what you want as an owner in the future can give you great insights into what strategies you may need to put in place now.

4. Conduct a detailed personal time analysis for a one-week period.

This is where the rubber hits the road. If you really are true to yourself when you do this exercise you will learn a lot about where the potential lies for making changes. How are you really spending your time? Break your day down into at least half hour slots and write down exactly what you do in each 30 minutes.

5. Create a plan of action for the next 30 days.

Based on the data from steps 1-4, create an action plan to cover the next 30 days. Your plan should include:

• steps to align personal and business goals
• strategy for moving to the role the owner wants to play in the business in the future
• analysis of the results of the one-week detailed monitoring exercise
• deciding which activities add the most value and planning to spend time on those
• identify how much time is spent on low value activity and planning to delegate or stop doing those things

There is never a better time than right now for planning to do things differently. Take charge of yourself and your business by choosing a direction that allows you to meet both your personal and business goals, and still retain your sanity!

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