Has tech made you more or less efficient?

Today, we have a growing pile of “useful tools” to help us grow our businesses and, in theory, at least make life easier, improve our efficiency and hopefully make everything much more enjoyable…. BUT…

The truth is far too many people are in businesses that are literally killing them with stress and exhaustion.

You have heard it said: “You’ll never do another day’s work in your life when you do what you love”.  Perhaps this is a little unrealistic, but it’s got to be a worthwhile goal?

The promise of tech making life simple and easy does not seem to be paying off for the masses.  I want to know why.

Nothing brought this home more than something I noticed when running a series of business seminars in the UK…

Over a few months in 2007, I was running workshops for business owners.  In one series we had three attendees cancel at the last minute having already paid… confused.com?!?

The excuses (posh word for reasons) for the ‘no shows’ surprised me.

All three could not attend because they had been admitted to hospital with some kind of stress related issue!  Since then I have pretty much seen this pattern repeat every time I deal with a large group of SME owners.

I always knew there were people out there having a hard time running their companies, but it’s not till I came face to face with the impact of this that I realised how serious it can get.

Shouldn’t running a business be about freedom, this was not what I expected.

But something surprised me even more in the following years…

I found out how easy it might be to fall into this trap.

I went through a period of about 5 – 6 years where I felt totally stuck in a business that while it gave me a relatively good life… was not enjoyable (for me).  Soon the business started to suffer and then so did my health.

It was only when I was lying in a hospital bed, after a pretty serious emergency operation, that I realised…. I had let this happen.

There is nothing like taking a look in the rear view mirror and spotting all the things you should have done!

Your personal life is way more important than your work life – We all “know” this, but most people are failing to do something about it.

What I know is this.  When I fit my personal life into my work I soon find ways of stopping to enjoy my work.

This leads to much poorer quality work, which leads to poor business results, which leads to – well you get the idea.

How many business owners totally LOVE their work?  I mean to the point where it does not feel like work?

I know a few, but they are hard to find.   I find this curious.

People who have deliberately gone out of their way to set up a business so they no longer have to work for someone else, end up not totally loving it?

Why?

Imagine you hated coffee, but totally loved a cup of tea.  Not such a complex problem right? You just wouldn’t drink coffee.

Does it need to be different designing a business model that meets your needs, likes, wants as a priority?

That would be some good news right?

Well, here is the big reveal folks…

You can design your business model any way you like.  

Seriously, it’s totally up to you.

Let me explain.  

Ever been in a meeting that starts with something like … we need to improve our marketing, we need to cut our costs, our sales people need training? I say: start with you.

Of course, we all have.  But I say we are starting planning meetings with the wrong questions.

I say start with you.

An example,

My son was about to start school.

I was about to follow my usual pattern and make an excuse about needing to be in the office first thing but caught myself just in time (well my wife helped me ‘catch myself’ if you get my drift).

We decided to draw a line in the sand and stop paying lip service to the things we ‘say’ are important and actually make them important by doing something about it.

I get to take Max every morning. In fact, we get to do way more. I can’t say we have a 100% record, but it’s rare that we let work get in the way of time with the kids.

We have just adapted our business model to cope.

In fact, everyone in our team has a young family.  

In traditional setups, this is still a problem.  

Hearing my friends talking about how hard they find juggling kids and work just confuses me.

It is 2017, surely this is a problem we all have the ability to fix?  It’s just bad business to do things any differently.

We use tech to help.

Basecamp, Google Drive, Google Calendar & Google Hangouts is just about all we need to allow our team to work pretty much wherever and whenever we like.

The technology to free you is easily accessible, low cost and awareness is pretty high.  So why are so many people clinging to the old way of doing things?

From an employee perspective, I can only imagine it’s fear of the boss saying no.  Business owners, I guess, are fearing their businesses suffering.

Certainly, if you are the owner of a business, there is no excuse for not trying.

There is no rule book here and you will make mistakes, but the alternative is just making everyone miserable.

Tips from my experience…

  1. First, draw up a picture of what you want your life to look like.
  2. Then, work out what your business model would have to look like for you to live like that.  What tech, what hours, which kind of people?
  3. Make a list of what needs to change – and get to work.

Resources…

A few great books that might inspire you to work on your Business Model:

Remote, Office Not Required – David Heinemeier Hansson & Jason Fried

4 Hour Work Week – Tim Ferris

The truth is that no matter what you do, there will always be days where you’d rather not be at work, but it’s your decision how many of those you are prepared to put up with.