When I begin working with a small business owner, we set the boundaries of her business up front. In fact, you can get a copy of the questions I ask, which are designed to help clients manage their time and prevent overwhelm. These questions will help you set the framework for exactly how you want your business to work.
The very first question I ask might shock you. Here it is:
How many weeks a year do you want to take off? Can you get your calendar and set aside those weeks right now?
Why do I ask this? Because you need to know how flexible you want your business to be. You need to know when business is going to take a back seat, and when you can commit to working it hard. This helps you protect your free time, but it also helps you protect your business time. You need both to thrive and to manage a successful business. One of the prime reasons women entrepreneurs quit is overwhelm. So we need to prevent overwhelm by realistic and honest planning.
Have you been honest about the down time and flexibility you want?
Here's an example. About 5 years ago I worked with a woman who felt as if she had never successfully launched her group coaching program. When I asked her the question above, she quickly told me that she likes to go to Europe for 3 weeks every December to spend Christmas and New Year holidays with her family. But when I looked at her business planning for the next 12 months, she had January as the month to launch her group coaching program. Her calendar for November and December had no time blocked out to market and launch her group coaching program. She had a DREAM of a big launch happening in January, but she had no strategy set up to make sure that her launch was in place before she left for almost all of December.
Your dream without a committed strategy remains a dream. And dreams don't bring you the financial success, freedom, or flexibility that you want.
By getting clear on what time away from her business meant to her, we could plan the flexibility she wanted. Here's what we did to prevent her getting overwhelmed and failing to launch her group coaching program successfully:
- We set her planning so that all her marketing materials were designed in early October.
- Her social media campaign was scheduled and set ahead of time in early November.
- She planned to write her email campaign and get it scheduled in mid-November.
- She wrote all her blog posts and had them ready for all of November and December.
- We made sure her shopping cart was set up for a January launch.
Now, her planning and her calendar were properly set so that she could take 3 weeks in December to be with her family, and spend only minimal time working while she was away.
Do you see that by answering this one question, she got a much better handle on when she really needed to focus on her business. She could plan effectively and keep feelings of overwhelm out of the way. A second benefit was that she realized that she could not also get caught up in elaborate Thanksgiving plans to entertain a dozen friends at her home. She needed committed focus time in November, and she traded that for freedom in December.
Today, ask yourself, “How many weeks a year do I want to take off? Can I set aside those weeks right now on my calendar?”
Freedom and flexibility within your business is absolutely possible, but it takes planning if you want to stay out of overwhelm.
You can read more about preventing overwhelm in this article, too. Meanwhile, ask yourself that one question, and see if it helps you manage your time and prevent overwhelm.