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Episode 49: From Job to Business: Managing Time Expectations

Have you ever wondered how to be more productive and calm in your business without burning out?

This episode is dedicated to that subject – because there is one important consideration you’ve probably forgotten.

This episode is dedicated to all of the coaches that I’ve been working with over the past few years who have really struggled to feel productive in their new coaching businesses.

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. 

You wake up on a Monday morning and walk into your office and you wonder what you’re supposed to be doing. 

By Wednesday, something has happened with the family and you’ve lost focus. You feel like you’re just spinning your wheels and like you’re getting nothing done. 

You’re wondering why you’re not being productive enough, and how you can get back on track.

Let’s look at why this happens and how to fix it.

The e-Myth

Michael Gerber wrote a book that I love called the e-Myth

It describes three business personalities and how each brings a unique set of strengths and skills to the running of a business.

The personalities could be summarised as:

– The entrepreneur (the ideas person/people person)

– The manager (the organiser/systems person) 

– The technician (the worker/doing person)

I love the e-myth as a guide to understanding the three main business personalities and I use this when I teach business skills to coaches who are setting up their businesses. 

You’ll find out why this knowledge is so essential when you are working on your business and I’ll put a link to the quiz on my website in the show notes if you want to take the quiz.

Most people are dominant in one area. Some people have strengths in two areas. It is rare to find someone who has skills and a desire to work in all three areas.

Let’s take a little look at these types and see how they affect your ability to manage TIME.

When a technician leaves their job to start their own business, it’s often because they think they could do it better on their own.

Early Career: The Technician 

Most of us start our working lives as technicians. 

Technicians are the people who do all of the grunt work in a business. 

Some examples include being the coffee maker, the shoe salesperson, the builder, the tiler, the scientist, the teacher, the nurse, the piano player or the coach.

All of these are examples of people who have skill in a particular area.

In other words, technicians are the doers – they love their work and appreciate craftsmanship. 

They love getting the job done properly, to the best of their ability.

Technicians dislike the unknown because it is a distraction from getting the job done.

A lot of people in jobs – working for others – spend most of their lives fairly and squarely in the technician’s role.

And over a period of years they might get more experience and skills, and may be promoted to a more senior role where they are doing the same sorts of technical work but at a higher level. 

Some of them may go on to become team leaders or managers. 

But think about that role for a moment – probably at least 90% of your work as a technician, in a job, is doing the work itself.

The other 10% might be a bit of administration.

Someone has given you a project to manage or a series of tasks to complete, a job description – and you show up and do it.

Even if you are in a managerial role, you have probably evolved into that from a technical position, and now you are just managing the time and people and budget aspects of the position – that is how you spend your time.

So what happens when you transition to running your own business?

Transition: Your Own Business

When a technician leaves their job to start their own business, it’s often because they think they could do it better on their own. 

Perhaps they think they can make more money than they did in their job. 

Or perhaps they just don’t want to be bossed around anymore, and they want to do their work their way on their terms.

And this is where some self awareness is especially important.

Consider that you are no longer spending 90% of your time in a technical role. 

There are all of the other business areas that need to be attended to. And if you have never done any of those are the roles before you may have no idea of what’s involved or how much time to spend in each area.

 

If you want to transition successfully from a technical job based role into your own business, you will need to adjust your expectations and get clear on how and where people spend their time in their businesses.

Transition: Business Areas and Time Spent in Each

Let’s consider the main areas of a business that need to be attended to each week.

  1. Systems
  2. Administration
  3. Finance
  4. Marketing
  5. Advertising
  6. Sales
  7. Technical work – coaching or other service you offer

These are the 7 main areas of your business where you need to invest time – and we’re excluding other things like IT, safety and human resources for now. 

This is where the challenge lies, because a lot of people come out of jobs and their brains expect them to be coaching full time.

After all, that’s what work feels like to a Technician!

Doing anything but your craft can leave you feeling unproductive, stuck or fearful.

Or maybe you aren’t skilled at the other areas, or don’t like them, so you think desperately about how you can coach more people and avoid the other bits.

Sorry, but that won’t work.

What WILL work is developing a realistic plan for your time when you are starting up, and adjusting that plan as your business grows.

Which might lead you to ask – how much time should you spend in each?

Let’s talk about how your business can evolve in it’s first year, and some realistic idea of how you might spend your time and energy each week.

The most powerful work you can do is in the promotion and management of your business, because it’s these two things that allow you to DO the technical work in the first place.

In the Beginning

In the beginning you might have NO clients, or only one day of client work, so you will need to spend more time in other areas such as marketing, advertising and sales, before you can get the clients you need to pay the bills.

In your first three months, you might spend 

  • 3 days per week on marketing, advertising and sales type activities.
  • 1 day on technical work – coaching and administration 
  • 1 day on systems and finance.

This is a rough guide!

If you spend your time wisely, you’ll get clients through your marketing efforts and be able to spend money on systems that will automate many of the manual, unpaid tasks you are doing in the start up phase.

Establishment Phase

If you can build up to 2 days of client work in your first year, your week would need to be rearranged to accommodate that.

You would still be quite heavily invested in marketing to build your work pipeline, but you will also need to build and automate the systems that will drive your business while you work. Otherwise you can outsource this!

In your second three to six months, you might spend 

  • 1.5 – 2 days per week on marketing, advertising and sales type activities.
  • 2 days on technical work – coaching and administration 
  • 1 – 1.5 days on systems and finance.

There is a juggling act that happens here as you are growing and many weeks will be a rollercoaster of irregular hours and tasks. 

Hang on for the ride! Having processes in all areas of business will smooth out the bumps.

For example, having specific launch times in each quarter will help you to manage your shifting workload over each 90 day period so you can create a consistent income and keep on top of your tasks.

Operational Phase

In a coaching business that’s fully operational, you would probably want to be coaching for 10 – 20 hours per week, depending on your clientele, format and fees.

If you leave a half hour gap between sessions, you could feasibly coach or deliver a similar service over three full days.

That leaves you with two days per week to fit in the other six areas.

When your business is fully operational you might spend

  • 1 day per week on marketing, advertising and sales type activities.
  • 3 days per week on technical work – coaching and administration 
  • 1 day on systems and finance.

Growth Phase

After start up, establishment and operation, you may reach the stage of wanting to grow your business to the next level.

While that’s another topic for another time, you could say it’s a bit like going back to the establishment phase of your business as you adjust your strategy and implement the changes that will allow you to scale and make more money in less time.

In Summary

To sum it up, technicians are usually people who are skilled at an area. If this is you, then you might find it hard to transition from a job into your own business at first, if you keep thinking that ‘productive work’ equals doing your craft.

That’s simply untrue.

The most powerful work you can do is in the promotion and management of your business, because it’s these two things that allow you to DO the technical work in the first place.

Ready to start your own business?

If you’d like help to navigate the transition from job to coaching business, visit melaniejwhite.com/habitology and learn how you can stop spinning your wheels and get there sooner. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Why Do We Expect So Much of Ourselves?

Why do we expect so much of ourselves?
Why do we expect so much of ourselves?

Why do we expect so much of ourselves in our business and life?

Sure, running your own business is a fulfilling and freeing, and a precious journey of adventure.

You bring your strength, courage, confidence into the world, writing your own rules, and creating success on your terms.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Time and again, I see entrepreneurial coaches starting out but being crippled by their drive for achievement with perhaps a twist of perfectionism.

Don’t get me wrong, being achievement focused and wanting to do things right are important for your success…but only to a point.

It requires perspective and insight to make them work for you, rather than against you.

Here’s how to get it right…but first, some background.

How Expectations Work

Expectations are the conditions you place on yourself and others.

And as much as you set expectations, you also respond to expectations.

This is where things get tricky – because in business, you have your own expectations and also, those of your clients to fulfill.

How can you juggle both and get it right?

How You Set Expectations

 

When Monday rolls around, what expectations do you set for the week, and each day? And how do your expectations for business and your personal life compare?

Most entrepreneurial coaches I know want to get everything on their list finished each week.

That works well if the list is short.

But achievement-focused people tend to want to conquer Rome, by yesterday.

This is where the panic, overwhelm and brain fog kick in (and sometimes melt-downs, ‘what ifs’ and plaintive WHYS).

The reason is simple – with all that focus on work achievements, there’s no time left to meet your personal needs or for that magical thinking time (“sharpening the saw”) where creative ideas and initiatives come from.

If you’re a health and wellness coach, you may see this same behaviour in your clients at goal-setting time:

  • They set a goal to exercise 6 days per week, then only achieve 3 days and feel miserable and defeated, OR
  • They set a goal to exercise 1 day per week, then achieve 3 days, and feel on top of the world.

The achievement in either case is the same – the only difference is the expectation and the mindset that it creates.

And therein lies the solution. When it comes to setting expectations, start small.

I created a rule for myself that I would aim to achieve 3 things per week.

Those 3 things are articulated very specifically and have blocked off time scheduled in for me to complete them.

That liberates me mentally to make time for achieving in my personal life, and makes for a balanced life that feels successful.

How You Respond to Expectations

Setting your own expectations aside, it’s worth mentioning that how you respond to others’ expectations is also a defining factor in your business success.

New York Times best selling author Gretchen Rubin has determined that people have an inherent tendency to set and respond to inner and outer expectations in one of four ways.

Two of these tendency types always seem to put others first at their own expense.

If you are an Obliger or Upholder (equating to about 64% of the population), chances are you are driven to help, please, service or support other people more than yourself.

This means your stuff gets shunted to the end of the pile and may never get done.

Of course, that can seriously hamper your ability to run a business – you have no time left for essential work ON your business (non-client time) and it may also mean you have trouble asking for money.

One of the most effective ways to manage your response to expectations better is to allot specific days and times to help/support/service others. That is, you set boundaries.

It might mean that you only see clients from Monday to Thursday, 11am – 4pm.

It might mean that you only take a certain number of clients each week.

It might mean that you have set catch up times with friends/family.

Summing it up

Expectations can help you stay on track or they can drain you.

If you are achievement-focused, then you may tend to overwhelm yourself with work and other commitments at the expense of your personal life or strategic business tasks.

Try setting the bar lower and celebrating your success.

If you are someone who routinely puts others first to your own detriment, experimenting with boundaries will help you put the time you need into the business and life you want.

Try scheduling set days/times for clients, friends and yourself.

I’d love to know how you are navigating this

Are you struggling with expectations?

Contact me if you’d like to have a 15-minute conversation about switching things around.

Contact Melanie White

 

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