Being self-employed is great, but….
Being self-employed is great, but….
I've been self-employed for the best part of four years now and I love it. I get to keep my own hours. I can work at 7 in the morning or 11 at night, it doesn't matter. If I want a day off, I only have to clear it with myself. I get to meet loads of new and interesting people and the best thing of all is that I'm doing something that I love. But for all these upsides, there are a couple of downsides to being your own boss.
For me two things that I've always struggled with are time management and also doing the things you know you should do, but never get round to in your own business. Let me explain the second point in a bit more detail. One of the elements of my business is the optimisation of my clients' websites to make sure they are found by the major search engines. One of the best ways to help this is to write blogs. I hammer on to my clients that they need to update their blog at least once a month, and reference someone else's blog in it with a link so that the search engines have a greater chance of picking them up. Yet in the last six months, I've only written two blogs for my own site. If I was one of my own clients I'd be screaming at myself by now (well, maybe not screaming, just having a very encouraging conversation with myself).
It's the same when it comes to business development, recently I just don't seem to be able to find time. Day to day I have a routine. I go networking, meet people, arrange a meeting with them and take them through the rest of the sales process as that is what brings money in. The other tasks I know I should be doing, such as strategic planning, catching up on professional reading, putting some meat on the bones of an idea I had four months ago, or looking at new and different ways of people finding out about my business (www.gozapi.com by the way), I've let slide and I've found myself procrastinating on them. I found that things were passing me by as I didn't get them done in time, and that comes back to the time management issue as well. But in the last month or so, I think I've cracked both problems, and I've done it thanks to JCI training sessions I've attended.
Firstly, lets cover the time management issue. In March, I attended a training session run by JCI Sheffield on, you guessed it, time management. They covered some basic tips and techniques on how to get more out of your day and how to stop procrastination. It covered everything from the use of Apps to more basic ways to use a "To Do" list. I found the ideas they had about the "To Do" list really useful and have implemented them. I now have a traffic lights system for my list. Red is 24 - 48 hours, orange is within the week and green is as and when it gets done. I add new items as the day goes on and then write a new one out at the end of the day, not the start of the next one, as this means you already know what you're going to be doing. I've also started using an idea called ‘Eat The Frog', however I'll tell you more about that at a later date, but it is a powerful tool.
The other thing that I've implemented is a principle that I picked up at a JCI Barnsley training session called ‘The Round Table'. Just like King Arthur who had his trusted knights sat around his round table, you create your own, but use your trusted friends, peers or work colleagues instead of knights. I've started doing this with two other business owners that are in the same building I am. We meet every two weeks first thing on Monday morning so it's a really positive way to start the week. We help each other with any problems we are having and also help keep track of each other's goals by making ourselves accountable to each other and stating what we want to achieve in the next two weeks. This is having a positive impact on not just me and my business, but my fellow ‘knights' and their companies.
A few people I've come across recently have asked me do I really get anything useful out of all these different JCI training sessions I attend or are they all a bit of a waste of time. My answer is that they are always useful and probably the best value for money training you can get. If you've not been along to one of our sessions yet, I hope you will be coming along after reading this as I guarantee you'll get something useful out of it. If you don't, I'll give you your money back out of my own pocket. I can't say fairer than that.
By Ben Hawley, JCI Barnsley Deputy President
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