Before you go assuming that you know what I am going to say, no, this is not a review of Stephen Covey’s Book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” That being said, it totally sounds like a book I’d be into. Rather, this is my personal rendition of the 7 most important habits that you, as a small business owner, NEED to be highly productive.
These do not require a master's degree from Yale or years of first hand experience. Anyone who’s willing to give it a go can achieve this state of, as Emylee and I like to call it, Beyonce-like productivity.
What?! You want me to actually know what is happening in advance? I know, it seems simple, but as someone who spent years not knowing what was happening from day to day, I promise you that this will make all the difference. If I was lucky, I’d plan out the weekend ahead. In school I may have written down major deadlines, but I was always the one cramming until 3:00 a.m. the night before, sleeping with notecards under my pillow, and praying to God that everything I had done was enough.
I can tell you that I have officially graduated from sleeping in my college studio in a recliner left over from who knows what decade. Now I have annual goals, quarterly milestones and monthly check-ins. I could tell you months in advance what will be happening in our business.
I know in the beginning this can be the HARDEST THING EVER, but I promise, with enough time and dedication, working and planning ahead will help you sleep better at night.
Have you ever sat down to think about the importance of things in your life? Like actually rank them? Well I can tell you in order, it’s:
- My personal relationship with God and Myself
- My Spouse
- Family and Close Friends
- My Business, and
- Everyone and everything else.
Your list does not have to reflect mine at all. In fact, I know many of you aren’t Christians – seriously, no judgement. What this list has done for me is help to set priorities. My business always used to come first, which meant my family often felt like they got a second rate version of me, and they were right.
I had to not only set priorities, but live true to them. If my spouse wants to go out for dinner and I still need to post one more thing on social media… it CAN WAIT.
OMG. Seriously life changing y’all. I give you permission to not be everything to everyone at the same time.
This has been so freaking hard. And for a long time it didn’t matter if I wanted to delegate, I simply couldn’t afford to. All that said, when you reach a place where you can outsource even one task, this habit will change your life. Hate formatting your blog posts? Delegate it. Design not your thing? Delegate it. Something you aren’t very good at sucking all your time? Delegate it.
Now, before you go and hire 45 people, I have to say my piece. Do not delegate without doing the work yourself first. “But Abagail, I don’t know how!” Learn, babe, learn. This is your opportunity to learn the ins and outs of every aspect of your business, so when it comes the time to take it off your plate, you’ll know exactly what you need, exactly the kind of person who would be perfect for the role, and be able to communicate effectively about how you want the task accomplished.
This takes time, don’t expect to delegate #allthethings overnight.
Have a Rockstar Tribe
Somewhere along the line, someone told me that “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Fact of the matter was, I didn’t really like all 5 of those people very much. Ever since then, I have gone out of my way to spend time with people I genuinely think are awesome. Not all of them have to be your friend. Simply “spend time” with people you think are great – this could mean watching a webinar they host, listening to their podcast or reading their blog.
Want to own a million dollar business? Do you actually know anyone who runs one? Do you spend any time with them?
Million dollar business or not, you have to think about who you are spending your time with. Your parents encouraged you to hang out with the “nerds” for a reason, am I right?
And if you don’t like the people you spend the most time with, how the heck are you going to prevent yourself from turning into “them”?
You Come First
I’ve 110% learned this the hard way. Please do what I say, not what I do.
Many times in my life, I’ve put myself at the bottom of the list. This wasn’t just a handful of times, we are talking major life pattern that time and time again landed me in doctor’s offices and therapist’s chairs.
Recently I was reading Emily Ley’s book, “Grace Not Perfection”, and she referenced a moment in her life where stress landed her in an MRI machine.
Well, apparently folks, I needed two MRI machines to get the picture. Three months into starting Think Creative, I started having chronic pain in my shoulder. This eventually led me to an MRI with contrast and 3 months of physical therapy. Why? Because I was working too much. I literally had worked myself into my first injury.
Flash forward to November 2016. I found myself in a squished car pileup with 5 other vehicles. The following weeks and months included an average of 7 doctor’s appointments a week. Two weeks of not being able to walk. Wheelchair transport to and from the airport. Knee braces, x-rays and CTs. Physical therapy three times a week. An undiagnosed concussion. Vestibular therapy twice a week. A constant migraine that so far has lasted more than 2 months. And as of last weekend… a seizure. I sit here today completely confused as to why I am even writing this.
As much as I always stress that you should put yourself first, I never have. And it has led to a laundry list of negatives that I would never wish on my worst enemy. Taking care of yourself is SO FREAKING IMPORTANT. So, despite my lack of answers and our business seemingly looking like two people run it full time – we don’t. Because health comes first.
If this all comes as a grave shock to you, I’m sorry. By the time this is published I will have had my MRI moment numero dos. Hopefully more answers will come soon.
Again, do what I say, not what I do.
Find Your Fuel
If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
I didn’t always believe this statement. I dreaded getting dressed. I hated my job. No amount of pay seemed good enough. I wasn’t content. I was always stressed and I wanted nothing more than to get out.
Then one day I finally realized that what I wanted was an option. I could run a profitable and sustainable business and still love what I did. Sure, as our company has grown my role has shifted, but I have never lost sight of what fuels me inside and out.
I have to be around people who believe in me. I need kind words and people who go out of their way. Find what energizes you. Find what fuels you. Know what inspires you.
There is Always Enough
I believe that there is always enough. Do you?
I always assumed that the majority of people had an abundance mentality too. But through the years it has become obvious that most fear the worst. Many have a twisted relationship with money.
And the idea of somehow going from a steady job to living on the street is a fear that many people have, though few are willing to admit it.
I first noticed this alternative viewpoint when my husband continued to point out the con to nearly every scenario. At this point, the trend tends to be “Do you really know how much babies cost?” Yes, in fact, I do. Recent studies have found raising a child from birth to age 18 costs $245,340 without inflation (source). And no, that doesn’t include planning for college or an expensive private education.
I could fear that. Or I could go into the situation knowing that there will always be enough.
Now, I’m not saying you ought to run out and get pregnant without a little financial planning, but why not have a positive perspective.
If you think you are going to run into financial troubles and then you spend like you have more money than you really do, what do you think the odds are that you won’t end up in debt? You will still need to plan, but it isn’t rocket science. We say it all the time.
This goes back to one of my favorite quotes.
“If you work really hard, and you are kind of awesome, amazing things will happen.”
I end that by saying “Why the hell NOT?!”
Now get your booty in gear and stop making excuses.