Ah, the beautiful sound of freedom! One of the main reasons people start their own business is for freedom. In fact, according to a survey done by businessjournals.com, the second most popular reasons people start businesses is, naturally, freedom! It is certainly one of the reasons I started my business, and I am guess it is one of yours. (Do I get an amen?!)
But, here’s the thing, rather than gaining freedom when they start their businesses, many business owners (including business and life coaches), find themselves stuck in business “jail.” Sometimes, they don’t even know why they don’t have the freedom they want. Well, I know and I am going to tell you. 🙂
I have seen many business and life coaches (and other entrepreneurs) fall into the same traps that keep them (YOU) from the freedom they (YOU) desire. The business simply cannot run without them. Can your business run without you? Here are the five signs you will not have freedom in your business:
1. You Have No Plan.
If you don’t have a plan, and try to fly by the seat of your pants, you are never going to have freedom in your business. You will be too busy putting out fires, running your business in constant reactive mode, and letting the business control you instead of you controlling it.
However, if you take the time to plan, you can outline what needs to be done in order for the business to run without you. You can take the time to set your goals, create actionable, deliberate steps, schedule those action steps into your calendar, and implement that plan (or better yet, delegate those steps).
2. You Fail to Delegate.
You cannot, I repeat, you CANNOT have a business that can run smoothly without you unless you are willing to delegate. You absolutely cannot do everything yourself and expect to have the life and work balance you so desperately desire.
However, if you let go of the reins of your business and delegate (even just a few things) you will begin feel relief and joy and freedom! Just knowing that you have someone, or even better more than one, to help you with the everyday running of your business will make a huge difference.
Who should you bring on as team members? It will take a separate article to fully answer this question; nevertheless, I will start by saying that you should start small and bring on only one person at a time. The first person you bring on should be the one who can help you with the tasks that you like the least or are the least good at. This may be a Virtual Assistant to help with basic administrative tasks or customer service. It may mean bringing on an Online Business Manager to help you with the big picture of your business and who can help you manage YOU. It may mean a social media specialist or bookkeeper.
3. You Fail to Trust Your Team.
It is not enough to have a team (be it one person or 10). You have to trust them and allow them to do their jobs. If you constantly feel the need to micromanage, then there is a problem. Either you need to get new team members or you have to look to yourself.
However, if you have hired the right team, and they are experts in their particular fields, you should not have to worry about them doing a good job. In fact, giving them the freedom to step fully into their roles will allow you to concentrate on the things you need/want to do and the freedom to take time off!
***A little note here*** Yes, your team members will make mistakes. It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. You aren’t perfect and they aren’t perfect. When those mistakes happen, deal with them and move on. Don’t let the fear of mistakes keep you from trusting and relying on your team!
4. You Don’t Have Systems and Processes in Place.
Having the right systems and processes in place is a magical thing! On the flip side, if you don’t have the right systems and processes in place, you will find yourself wasting time, energy, and resources that could be used elsewhere in your business.
However, if you take the time to put systems in place that can automate your business as much as possible, you can create a business that runs like a well-oiled machine (with or without you)! Additionally, if you create processes for different areas of your business, you will save a lot of time and energy – especially when it comes to things in your business that are repeated, such as welcoming new coaching clients.
5. You Fail to Create (and Update) a Staffing Handbook or Standard Operating Procedures Manual.
If you are serious about creating a business that can function with or without you, it is essential that you have an SOP. Without a staffing handbook or SOP, you will most likely have to be the one to step in every time a team member is unavailable or every time a new member comes aboard or every time a team member leaves your company!
What is an SOP manual or staffing handbook, you ask? It is a document that lists everything (and I mean everything) that is needed to complete a particular task. For example: an SOP for on-boarding a new coaching client would include every single thing needed to do so correctly. It would include what forms would need to be filled out by the new client, a template for the welcome email that needs to go out, the information needed to add the new client to your CRM system, etc. Everything and anything that needs to be done (including WHO does what) would be included that SOP. (I will do an article soon about the whys, hows, and whats of doing SOPs soon.)
If you always have an updated standard operating procedures manual or staffing handbook, anyone will be able to take over just about any task when necessary. The person stepping in will know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it, probably without even having to ask you! It will allow your business to run more smoothly when there are bumps or emergencies and allows you to focus on those things that need your attention more.
6. You are too Busy Being “Busy!”
Don’t worry you aren’t alone. It happens to all of us. You sit down at your computer and instead of getting right to work on revenue generating activities or client care or following up with potential clients, you decide that your website needs tweaking or you “need” to read that blog post or watch that training from your favorite expert. OR the dishes need to be washed and the dog has to be walked. OR, you really do have to do some internet research only to find yourself mindlessly surfing the net for an hour.
The thing is, you will have to learn to reign yourself in if you truly want to have the freedom you desire. This is where having a plan and inserting the steps of that plan into your computer will help. If you build a habit of opening your calendar each morning and working on at least one or two things that will help you achieve your goal, you will achieve that goal in no time! Better yet, check the calendar at the end of your day for tomorrow’s tasks, along with everything you will need to complete those tasks, and you will be able to hit the road running every morning.
It also helps to have someone, like an Online Business Manager, help you stay accountable. If you haven’t had an accountability partner before, you’ll be surprised how much more you will get done knowing you have to fill that person in!
By the way, I’m not saying you shouldn’t tweak your website or mindlessly surf the internet. What I do say, however, is that you should schedule those tasks on your calendar. You absolutely should make the time to do the things you enjoy, including non-revenue generating activities, as long as you don’t let them suck the life and freedom out of your business! Be intentional about how you manage your time or your time (and business) will manage you!
The Big Questions
Do you see any of the above signs in yourself? It is time for you to go deeper. You may want to journal your answers or talk them over with someone. Ask yourself: In what ways am I in business “jail?” How is my business running me instead of me running my business? What steps am I going to take so that I can begin the process to gain (or regain) freedom in my business?
If you recognize yourself in any of the signs you read today, and are truly ready to get out of “business jail,” I would love to have a conversation with you to see if I can help. I invite you to get on my calendar for a free, no obligation consultation to see if partnering together would make sense.