What Being a Single Parent Taught Me About Building a Successful Business
Of all the questions I get asked, the most common one would have to be “How do you do it?” For the benefit of those who don’t know me, the ‘it’ that people refer to is the fact that I am single parent of three children (two of whom are at the time of writing, 9 year old twins), I am an entrepreneur running a leadership and performance practice and I am an of-off competitive road cyclist training 4-5 times per week. In my spare time, I cook, clean, wash, do the garden, have a role as Race Director for my local cycling club, and also date and hang out with friends.
So how do I do it?
I do things in a smart way rather than the hard way.
I learnt to create effective, purpose-driven systems that not only make things clearer and simpler, but are also refined on an ongoing basis
I learnt to leverage the resources I have at my disposal so that everything is maximised
Effective systemisation and leverage are the two greatest strategies that an individual can use. When used cleverly, combined they are the magic potion for business owners, businesses (and single Mum’s).
MAGNIFY YOU SO THAT YOU SEEM SO MUCH BIGGER THAN YOU REALLY ARE
"When you look in the magnifying glass, what you see looks so much bigger than it really is"
Leveraging and effective systemising has the same effect.. a small business can have the same profile or presence as a big business and more importantly, can appear to operate at the same scale of a big business.
STRENGTHEN YOU SO THAT YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE POWERFUL
"With the right lever placed in the right position, a small person can shift an object that is far heavier than them."
The combination of leveraging and effective systemising means that not only are you using a resource to help you, but you are also using that resource in the most beneficial way. This allows you to do or be so much more.
DUPLICATE YOU SO THAT YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE
"Find 10 people to do the 10 things you aren’t good at.. train them properly and then you’ve duplicated yourself 10 times."
Too many business owners try to do everything.. and spread so thin, don’t do anything well let alone with any passion. If you outsource the things you aren’t passionate or good at doing (and things that may be a low value use of your time) to other people who are, you benefit immediately by being able spend your time on value activities. By adding effective systems to train and guide those people, you can be confident that it’s being done to a standard you have set. Then you can look at technology solutions as well….
ALLOWS YOU TO IMPROVE
Question: “Why do you do that?” Answer: “I don’t know, that’s just the way I do it”
Don’t laugh, I hear this all the time. It’s not until you actually look at how you do something that you realise that there are things you do that could be done in a different way, by someone else, by something else, or don’t even need to be done at all! Once you map it all out, you can refine things, adapt things, look for other solutions. You can improve.
GIVE YOU TIME AND FREEDOM
When you structure things properly, you will find time that you didn’t have before.
Busy being busy is something I see so often from my clients when I start working with them. When we build good systems and leverage into their lives, they all of a sudden find time they didn’t have before. Did that spare time just appear? No. It was always there.. we just got them working smarter, not harder. We got them out of the habit of doing low value activities. We give them freedom.
SAVE YOU MONEY (OR MAKE YOU MONEY IF YOU’RE SMART ABOUT IT).
“But I’m saving money by doing it myself”
I hear this all the time, but if you were to calculate how much time, energy and/or money gets wasted by doing it all yourself, you might get a shock. The bigger learning is the opportunity cost of that wasted time, energy and/or money. If you had those wasted resources available to you, imagine the possible advantages of reinvesting them into business growth activities.
Another thing to think about is the increased value potential of systemising & duplicating. I call it the “cookie cutter method”.. by using this approach in your core business activities, you have the capacity of producing and/or delivering so much more, and or scaling so much bigger. If you think McDonalds here, you’ll understand what I mean…
If you’re too busy to build smart systems, they you’ll always be too busy
These are principles I have applied in my businesses and also in my life. I use these principles so that I have the time and the freedom to spend with other priority areas of my life.
As a performance and leadership coach, this is one of the first things I teach to my clients. People who are typically wearing too many hats and spread so thin that they can’t give the value they’d like to let alone have time to grow the business.
“But no one can do it as well as I can”
Maybe so, but I guarantee that you aren’t the only person to think this. To many people, the biggest obstacle is themselves because there is an emotional attachment in the doing – especially if it’s your own business. The need for significance or control can be the reason why a business owner will never be truly successful or free because they simply don’t want to let go or trust someone or something else.
This attitude is a one way road to a business plateauing, and worse entrepreneurial burnout
The truth is that we all use systems.. usually we don’t even know it and quite often, the ones we have aren’t the most effective. In business, the majority of the problems that exist are systems driven and for the business owner, part of those systems may well include their need to do it themselves.
Effective systems and leverage are strategies critical to the success of a business (and in the life of single Mum). The beauty is, that these principles can be used in any business environment.
As a single parent, this is how I manage to do all that I do. Do I have a lot of spare time? No! But all my time is spent on things that mean a lot to me. I’m not busy being busy being busy. I live an awesome life!