Category Archives: Work Life Balance

Keep Calm and Carry On….

As usual I took time off over half term, which was lovely.

In the meantime however work kept piling up in my inbox, so the past couple of weeks have been unusually hectic while I’ve been trying to catch up. Add to this the fact that there have been several unexpected new projects needing urgent action and for a time I did get unpleasantly close to being overwhelmed by the workload.

Now I feel I have made it back to a reasonable level of organisation and I have been reflecting on how I got there.

Get over it!Build a bridge... and get over it!

One thing I usually forget is that I won’t be able to do everything, and most of the time (this time included) I don’t actually need to do everything immediately, at least not as rigorously as I would like.

Get started

I found a blog on marketing recently that pointed out another fact I tend to over look: the hardest thing about marketing (in this case) is actually doing marketing, as opposed to just thinking/ planning/ dreaming about what you will achieve.

The same applies to most things in life, unless you get started you’ll never get finished.

I like to do lists. So I worked out my priorities and made a list of the tasks that needed to be done in order to complete the work, and all of a sudden things didn’t seem so bad because I could see where to start.

After that there was some work required, but now – without too much panic – I have almost managed to get on top of things.

Don't panic - good advice for small businesses too

Don’t panic!

Does my Business Plan need a Mission Statement?

Mission statements are just corporate waffle, about “empowering”, “finding new paradigms” and “evangelising findings”. Right?

Mission: Impossible?

Mission: Impossible?

This is how I have always felt, that it’s something for major multi-nationals, not for me… until now.

Recently I have been working in developing Business Plans with two (very different) clients. As part of my preparation for this I started working on my own Business Plan.

It has been about two years since I wrote my original plan. At that point I was just beginning – exploring what I wanted to do and trying to work out what my clients valued about the work I was doing for them.

So it was very vague in some ways, but it was specific in others. For example I knew, and wrote down that I wanted to limit my working hours to school hours, and then only during term time.

This has proved really valuable – when things were going badly I could remind myself what my original idea was and see that if I could pull it off it would be worth it.

Once or twice people suggested full time roles to me which would have been financially lucrative, but demand much more time. My written down business plan enabled me to compare those opportunities to my expectations and see if a job was something that was worth sacrificing my flexibility for. Clearly it wasn’t, or I wouldn’t be writing this now!

Over the course of the last year things have gradually fallen into place and so it seemed like a good time to refresh my business plan to fill in the gaps in the previous one, and set new targets for the next few years.

I have developed my own template for my clients’ Business Plans; a bit more personal and detailed than some of the generic internet ones but basically covering the same material. So, I worked through it and finally came to the mission statement (I think you should leave the Mission Statement to last, because sometimes it’s difficult to understand what’s important until you have focused deeply on what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do that.

Dawn breakingInitially I thought that I might just write a sentence, but I have recently read “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” which extols the benefits of having a Mission Statement that means something to use as a guide to what really matters. So I really thought about it and lo and behold I settled on:

“I will help small businesses control their outcomes by taking the time to understand their practices and problems and by respecting their hard work and their trust in me. ”

This reflects my clients’ feedback on how they feel about the way I work, but most importantly I feel that if I can stay true to this I will be really proud of and fulfilled by what I do.

With a Business Plan that’s written down I have the ability to look back in one, two or even five years and see how the actual progress compared to my plan.

So, to answer my original question, I think my Business Plan is better for having a statement at the beginning that sums up, in one sentence, what it is that’s important to me and what I’m aiming for.