Let’s face it, there’s only so much you can take on in your business when you’re doing it all yourself. And when you’re stretching too thin spending all your time
Leverage Your Time
Be strategic about how you use your time and get more work done by setting strong boundaries in business, reducing access and working only in your unique brilliance.
WHEN entrepreneurs first start their business, they’re often flexible with clients, consenting to doing things outside of the original client agreement, doing extra work without charging for it, being available for phone calls on evenings or...
WHEN entrepreneurs first start their business, they’re often flexible with clients, consenting to doing things outside of the original client agreement, doing extra work without charging for it, being available for phone calls on evenings or weekends, and granting unusual requests not within the original scope of work.
The problem is, once your client load is at full capacity and you have very little time, these extra (often non-paid) demands can take a toll on you, create resentment, and prevent you from growing your business further or enjoying your life.
Rather than putting out fires and focusing solely on the immediate, “urgent” tasks that provide only short-term, low-impact results, the solution is to reevaluate how you use your time in your business. Too often, entrepreneurs at this level give away their time, rather than using it strategically. You will now wish to set (and enforce) boundaries with the people in your life (personally and professionally) so you can use your time in the best way possible.
Doing this will help you gain back a surprising number of valuable hours which you can then use for visioning, strategizing, and implementing “important” long-term tasks, the ones that will make a significant impact on the long-term growth of your business, and help you enjoy your life again, with the ones you love.
Not every minute of how you currently use your day has equal value. When you first start your business, it’s an all-hands-on-deck approach: get done what you need to get done, grind it out, rinse, and repeat the following day...
Not every minute of how you currently use your day has equal value. When you first start your business, it’s an all-hands-on-deck approach: get done what you need to get done, grind it out, rinse, and repeat the following day. Everything needs to get done yesterday, and so you go to task, juggling fifteen balls in the air just to get past the start-up phase. You’ll do anything that’s required, because survival depends on you and only you.
Now that you’ve reached a new level in your business, this modus operandi no longer applies and, frankly, must stop. The way you used your time to get here isn’t going to get you there, to that bigger next level. What’s required is a shift in thinking about how you will use your time going forward.
Understanding that time is now your most precious commodity, you must embrace the fact that not every activity, task or project you work on provides an equal return on investment.
Here’s what I mean: there are some things that you’re currently working on in your business that are worth $100, $500, $1,000 or more per hour that truly only you can do in your business. In the Leveraged Business program, we call these Exponential Growth Activities (EGAs). I will explain these shortly.
Conversely, there are likely many other things you currently do during the day that you could easily pay someone else $15 an hour to do, maybe even $30 an hour. These we call Non-Exponential Growth Activities (NEGAs).
Understanding the difference in these types of activities is what can free you at this point:
- NEGAs are usually an immediate gratification activity, some- thing that needs to get done but doesn’t really add to the long- term growth of the business. These often involve putting out fires.
- Conversely, EGAs are typically more long-term, big vision- based, or rather involved business development activities and slower gratification projects that will take more time and will require your expertise or mastery to accomplish, rather than something you can quickly delegate.
When you make a list of all the tasks you currently work on in an average week and add next to each item the dollar amount you could pay someone else to complete these tasks, you notice that EGAs are worth far more in the long term of your business than NEGAs, for obvious reasons.
You also see where your time is actually going. Here’s the point I’m trying to make.
People complain about not having enough time to get everything done. This is not necessarily the problem. It’s not that you don’t have enough time to get everything done; you’re simply now working on the wrong things. Categorizing the tasks on your to-do list to distinguish NEGAs from EGAs will help you use your time more effectively.
This new realization can help you make decisions about what you will and will no longer do, and allow you to be ruthless about how you use your time going forward. When you start focusing on more EGAs, you position your company for immense growth, both in terms of impact and financially.
Creating non-negotiable “EGA Days” is how you leverage your time and business. I have long believed that it’s very difficult to build your business exponentially in between client appointments. Dealing with the “now” is a different type of thinking than that of being strategic and planning the future.
To grow, you must now shift your thinking and habits so as to create more uninterrupted blocks of time for EGAs, Exponential Growth Activities, as these are the ones that will free you from the cage you’re in.
We call these EGA Days, and I have been using them in my business since the first few years of being self-employed. I realized that the more blocks of time I created for business development, rather than putting out fires or working on the immediate administrative tasks, the more serious traction I gained in my business.
In fact, the first year that I carved out a specific EGA Day in my calendar each week, I experienced a 35 percent increase in revenues within twelve months. This was a big revelation for me! When I leveraged my time, I increased my efforts and revenues.
Not long thereafter, I experienced a 300 percent increase in revenues in just twelve months using this same method, and a 530 percent increase in three years. It’s not just for me, of course. The business owners we mentor now also experience a significant increase in revenues when they commit to doing this weekly. It is a revolutionary way to leverage your time for dramatic growth.
Why create blocks of time for long-term strategic work? It will help you be “in the flow” in terms of taking action on marketing ideas or projects that aren’t necessarily urgent but that would significantly drive your business forward. Having these non-negotiable blocks of uninterrupted time helps you be intentional about the long-game of your business, rather than trying to squeeze it in whenever you have a couple of minutes.
Client example: A dental office we worked with to attract more patients was struggling to get any marketing done. The primary dentist was consistently busy working with patients and couldn’t focus on client attraction—until we asked the office manager to schedule NO patients on Thursdays. At first, he resisted. “How will I make more money if I’m working with patients one less day per week? That doesn’t make sense to me.”
But very quickly, he realized that in the new block of time (a full day per week) he now had, he could focus on business development, marketing and setting up referral systems. He was actually able to put in place initiatives to drive more patients to his dental office, like finally being able to create his extensive website, send out letters to the human resource departments of large corporations in the vicinity, track and reward frequent referral sources, and host a bring-a-guest patient appreciation event that generated introductions and referrals to his dental practice, among other things.
Not too long thereafter, this extra time for focused strategy work each week provided him with the opportunity to see the potential for money he had been overlooking when he was too busy working with patients. He realized that cosmetic dentistry made his practice a lot more money than the typical cleanings and cavity work he had been focusing on before.
Based on this realization, he shifted his focus to bringing on more cosmetic dentistry patients and saw his revenues increase significantly. This allowed him to bring on more staff and increase the capacity of the dental practice, which again, increased his revenues.
Just ONE day per week to not work with patients improved every- thing for this dental practice. That’s a great return on investment.
The Pareto Principle is alive and well in how you use your time. Are you familiar with the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule? Essentially, it states that, for many events, roughly 80 percent of the effects come from only 20 percent of the causes. This is also known as the law of the vital few, and can be applied to your business.
As I became familiar with the Pareto Principle, I first began seeing it at play in my personal life. For example, I use only about 20 percent of my shoes 80 percent of the time; and when I travel, I often bring the same things, every time, all a small percentage of my entire wardrobe. And the list goes on and on.
But I also noticed it in my business: Only about 20 percent of my tasks were ones I enjoyed the most and 80 percent I would prefer not to do; 20 percent of my marketing activities seemed to bring me about 80 percent of my clients; approximately 20 percent of my clients gave me referrals consistently, etc.
The real breakthrough was when I realized that the way I used my time in my business dictated how much my business grew. It dawned on me that about 20 percent of my activities were what really drove the business forward significantly (we call them Unique Brilliance activities), while 80 percent didn’t have the same impact or value.
It then occurred to me that if as much as 80 percent of results in my business (“outcomes”) came from only 20 percent of my personal “activities,” that there was a huge opportunity to shift how I used my time to simply do more of the activities on the 20 percent list.
Simply said, I could leverage my time by putting a pause button on the 80 percent of activities that produced poor results, while increasing the time I spent on the 20 percent of the activities that produced exceptional results.
That’s when I began asking myself some strategic questions:
- Why was I wasting my valuable time on things that don’t produce nearly the same results?
- What would happen if I transitioned to using exponentially more of my time on those things that did?
Eliminating the 80 percent of NEGA activities that brought me mediocre results and replacing them with EGA activities that previously only took up about 20 percent of my time created a true compound effect.
Not only was it revolutionary for my business based on how I used my own time, but we started applying it to the other members of my Team. If a certain team member produced 80 percent of their results for growing the business in only 20 percent of the use of their time, why couldn’t we just get them to shift how they use their time to only work on their own EGAs?
The lesson for your own business is this: instead of being reactive with how you use your time, notice how perhaps as much as 80 percent of your results may be coming from only 20 percent of your activities. What would happen to your business if you eliminated all the NEGAs (or at least delegated a large portion of them) and made a commitment to spend as much as 80 percent of your time on EGAs?
Would you too create a compound effect in how you leveraged your time? This is a way to completely shift the outcome of how you use your precious hours each day. It is also how you can go from overwhelmed at Six Figures to Seven Figures with your life back.
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” —Warren Buffett...
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” —Warren Buffett
At this stage of business, the immediate money on the table is not as important as what’s on the horizon. As we touched on previously, in the first stage of your business, you were in the “getting clients and making money” survival mode. You needed to focus on “money now” and couldn’t afford to focus on future strategy.
You have now arrived at a different stage in your business, one in which the sole focus on “money now” is actually preventing you from growing exponentially.
With newer entrepreneurs not yet at the six-figure mark, we advise prioritizing their to-do list on activities that will provide them 1) the most money, 2) in the least amount of time to implement, 3) with the least effort on their part, and, 4) optionally, with the greatest long-term impact for the company.
(We call these Money Generating Activities, or MGAs.)
This might mean that it’s most important to go networking, to have coffee with referral partners, to get booked to speak several times per month, and to create and market new programs for a quick infusion of cash. Whatever will bring in money, and fast!
The energy of MGAs are more urgent and reactive.
By all means, every business should focus on this in the early years and within our initial program, our coaches mentor early-stage business owners to focus on marketing, marketing, and more marketing and setting up systems so they attract clients consistently (i.e., Grow your online presence, Grow your stay-in-touch marketing, Grow your visibility, Grow your referrals, Grow your email list, Grow your platform, Grow your one-to-many offerings, Grow your speaking).
Money Generating Activities are crucial in the early stages.
But there’s a point in your business (now, if you’re in the Leverage phase) that this actually cripples you from working on the longer view. This is what happened to me. I was so busy working with individual clients, speaking, networking, creating and then launching countless small programs that I found myself with no bandwidth or capacity to focus on the strategic long-term growth projects.
Being at full-practice-capacity, I was stuck in “doing mode” and couldn’t embrace “strategic mode.” Things like shifting my branding to position my company for massive growth, writing a lead-generating business book, bringing on the right team members, or launching the personal-growth arm of my company went by the wayside.
The Exponential Growth Activities were consistently being put on the back burner.
That is, until I made a commitment to take a temporary step back from so much of the “doing” with the intent to focus on the things that were slower in the making, but would eventually help the business leap forward much further. This required saying no to a lot of things that were currently bringing in lots of money, which is admittedly a difficult decision to make. But I knew that, in my case, drawing a line in the sand and making a commitment to the future would pay off.
So, I stopped selling my best marketing product of all time; I stopped launching varied products on a monthly basis; I chose to do only one three-day conference per year, rather than the three I had previously done.
Yes, this choice was temporary and I knew full well it would slow down my revenues a bit, at least in the short term. But it was a strategic move to gain back more EGA time. Instead of using my days to market and launch countless little programs, I focused on a long-term, singular-growth path for the business, what is now the Leveraged Business program. I decided to do less, better.
And it paid off.
Simply said, saying no to bright shiny objects (even those that make money) allowed me to gain back my time to focus on doing less, but much better. And in turn, streamlining my business in this way allowed it to grow and set itself up to run a lot more without my direct involvement. (By the way, this is a method for making more, working less.)
How do you prioritize what activities to work on now that you’re at the Leverage stage of your business? It’s not the same “early stage business” Money Generating Activities formula as I shared with you earlier.
It’s flipped on its head to focus on Exponential Growth Activities, where you aim to focus on projects that will provide 1) the greatest long- term impact for the company, and then on, 2) what will bring in the most money, 3) in the least amount of time to implement, 4) with the least effort on your part.
Notice that it is taking the previously “optional” focus of working on long-term impact projects, and making it a priority at this stage of
your business. Doing this allows you to focus on what matters more: you being in a strategic role versus a delivery role, as we will discuss soon.
Caveat: This does not mean that you stop working with clients or focusing on the bread-and-butter of your business. You must still focus on doing the activities that bring in money, and you’ll certainly continue to market and to sign on new clients. It simply means saying no to the extraneous or bright shiny objects (for the short term) so you can focus more of your time on EGAs and achieve exponential growth.
Be strategic here and think it through, so you don’t find yourself without any cash coming in.
That being said, even though the immense satisfaction of “immediate cash” isn’t as present, be reassured that the long-term planning will likely cover the backward step you took to help you jump further in the near future. It will be worth it. You must do less, but better. This is leverage.
You don’t get results from things you don’t finish. Over the years of working with thousands of business owners at different stages of business, and after seeing an overwhelming trend in their assessment results, I’ve come to learn that the majority of us entrepreneurs love to start new things but aren’t necessarily wired to finish what we start. We are often high-idea generators, but not always consistent about dotting every “i” and crossing every “t.”
Once something has been started, a project often loses its magic for typical entrepreneurs, which causes a loss of momentum as they move their attention and focus on another project, idea, or even start another business.
This is normal, in the sense that it is common practice, but it does slow down business growth, causing it to plateau at a certain level. So, if you’re wondering why growth isn’t happening fast enough, not finishing what you’ve already started is likely one of the reasons.
I’ve long believed and shouted from the rooftops that you don’t get results from things you don’t implement fully. Yes, there is a great feeling of forward-movement as you’re starting a project and making headway on it. But if that project is never completed, you might as well not have started it at all.
For example: If you begin writing a book that will give your business exposure and visibility, but only get it halfway written, you won’t get the new speaking gigs or clients you would have gotten if you had actually published it or made it available online as a lead-generation tool. In fact, nothing will likely change, even if you’ve spent six months or even three years writing it.
If you create your signature talk but never get a chance to deliver it in front of an audience, it won’t produce results. If you meet ideal new referral partners at a networking group but never reach out to them to collaborate on the project you discussed, you might as well have stayed home that day. Sad, but true.
Every time we add yet another project (or a new business) to our already-full plate, we delay the completion of everything else that is presently on our plate, which doesn’t bring us closer to where we want to be.
For a change to happen, and for you to produce more with less effort, the mindset shift required is your willingness to complete what you start. If this requires starting fewer things (three instead of ten) then that’s what needs to happen, even if it goes against how you typically do things.
It is better to focus on a few things and crush the results by fully implementing them than to focus on too many things and not finish them fully, which produces no results.
That being said, this doesn’t mean that you have to take every project to 100 percent completion on your own. Many business owners, including myself, just aren’t wired to do that, at least not solo.
Instead, you can set up your environment to take a certain project to 70 or 80 percent completion and then ask for help. If it means getting support in staying on task, then by all means get that support. But focus on the completion of fewer big projects and you will find that it takes less of your time, for greater results, which is the ultimate leverage of your time.
You don’t owe anyone anything. If you are among those who are over- whelmed and feeling crushed under their to-do lists, commitments or client workload, it may not just be a question of too much volume or a need to prioritize better...
You don’t owe anyone anything. If you are among those who are over- whelmed and feeling crushed under their to-do lists, commitments or client workload, it may not just be a question of too much volume or a need to prioritize better...
It may also be a symptom that you’ve put the needs of others before your own.
Some kind-hearted business owners want to be liked so much that they agree to do things, or give their time to others beyond what they actually want to give, so they can feel appreciated and significant, or because “It’s the right thing to do” or even because “They asked so nicely, and I didn’t feel I could say no.”
Truth be told, and this is almost never talked about in traditional business circles, this form of overgiving to the point of sacrifice or martyrdom often comes from the subconscious need to fill the gap around not feeling good enough, a belief in not being enough, or that one’s worth is proven by sacrificing one’s time or personal boundaries.
In the Leveraged Business program, when we teach the Leverage Your Time Activator over a two-day period, we put a strong focus on helping business owners to say no. We embrace the philosophy that setting boundaries is an act of self-love.
Doing this is transformative, not just in terms of time, but also of increasing self-worth.
If you understand that your value is a birthright, that your innate worth can never be taken from you, and you begin to love, honor and value yourself and your needs (as I teach in the first chapter of my book, Embrace Your Magnificence), then you will realize that you don’t need to people-please to be liked.
When you like yourself, you don’t need to give of yourself endlessly to be liked by others. When you love yourself, that’s enough. This applies to your business as well.
I’d like to give you permission to be bolder about meeting your own needs first and to simply say no to things you simply don’t want to do, don’t have time for, or that aren’t in alignment with your greatest professional goals or personal aspirations.
That means that you may want to announce to that board of directors that you’ll be stepping down next month; that you will stop going to that networking group that’s an hour and a half away and hasn’t produced results in a year. It will also mean that you find a way to get out of hosting an event you got talked into but don’t want to do.
And, dare I say it as you might judge my parenting for saying this, it may mean that you tell your family that you can no longer be the one driving the kids to countless soccer practices, baseball games and swim meets during work hours (and even on evenings and weekends) as I did.
You are a business owner, not a chauffeur. Self-employed does not mean unemployed. You have important work to do. (I realize this can be a lot to take in with the societal pressure that, especially we women, are put under. Just breathe.)
Yes, you can choose to give your time to charities, to benevolent projects, to your community and family, but let that be your choice, not because someone blindly expects you to do it, or asks nicely, especially when you feel you should be working on growing your business.
The same goes for clients. You don’t owe clients anything other than what is expressly agreed between you or what’s in writing. This is taking up way more of your time than you think, and is eating into your Exponential Growth Activity focus time (more on that later).
The bottom line is, if you find yourself complaining that you don’t have enough time to grow your business, you may want to reevaluate how you actually use your time.
If you were to make a list of all the unnecessary or unpaid time you give your clients, community, people who just “want to pick your brain,” and volunteering endlessly, and you were to add up all those hours you give away each week and then multiply that number by fifty-two weeks, you would find that you would have plenty of time to focus on the growth of your business.
It’s about being bolder and creating stronger boundaries, something that comes with a bit of practice, but works very, very well.
Be unapologetic about taking back your time from those you’ve allowed to hijack it. This is your permission to take your life back, unapologetically. If you’ve been playing the role of “people pleaser” or “good girl/good boy,” this may admittedly ruffle your feathers at first. You may fear that people will think you’re rude or selfish by saying no, and that ultimately, they won’t like you for it.
But here’s the deal: if certain people only like you because of things you do for them for free, that’s not friendship; it’s abuse. If people only spend time with you because you overgive without reward, that’s also abuse and I believe it needs to stop, for your benefit.
You’re worth so much more than that and you deserve to be appreciated for your qualities and your personality instead of the fact that you can be taken advantage of, by clients, vendors, team members, or people in general, including family.
That being said, it’s time to clear the decks and start saying no more often, which can be really tricky for some people, especially women, even already successful business owners.
First, know that you don’t need an excuse to remove yourself from an obligation that no longer serves you or from something that someone requested of you.
You can just say:
- “Thank you for thinking of me. I will not be able to do that. Best of luck going forward.”
- “I’m so honored you thought of me first. I will decline your invitation but I know you’ll find someone just perfect for the role.”
- “I will no longer be able to (insert thing you committed to). Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it all this time.”
The key in communicating this is to do it without needing to say anything else or explain yourself further. If you try to explain why you’re setting the boundary or use an excuse, it will invite the person you’re setting a boundary with to negotiate with you.
Be grateful for the opportunity, but firm about your answer. If they press and ask why, you still don’t need to give a reason, just “It’s some- thing I’m choosing not to do at this time.”
Then, be comfortable with the awkward (sometimes excruciating) silence that will follow for about two seconds. This may be one of the most difficult things you will have to do in your business, or your life, but it will strengthen muscles in your mindset that will help you leverage your business and gain your life back, now and for many years to come.
It will also dramatically increase your sense of self-worth and personal fulfillment, which will affect your business for the rest of your career.
Others aren’t responsible for how they treat you (or your time), you are. I know this may initially be difficult to hear, but in the personal-growth and development work that I do with individuals who don’t have a business...
Others aren’t responsible for how they treat you (or your time), you are. I know this may initially be difficult to hear, but in the personal-growth and development work that I do with individuals who don’t have a business, I stress that the way someone treats you is simply the result of how you have taught them or allowed them to treat you. The same is true in your business.
If someone has hijacked your time and continues to do so, it’s because they’re not clear about your standards (your personal rules) around what’s acceptable and what’s not. Meaning, you simply have not educated them around how to deal with you in your interactions.
If a handful of your clients or customers feel entitled to call you on your mobile phone into the evening and on weekends, and this frustrates you and eats up your time, both personal and professional, this is not something that will end on its own.
That client will continue to use that privilege until you do something about it.
In the first few years of my business, I offered my one-on-one clients unlimited email access in between our phone calls. Here’s what I discovered: approximately 20 percent of my clients never used this unlimited access, 60 percent used it occasionally and within reason, and the other 20 percent were the ones who used it consistently, sometimes even abused it.
These were the clients who wrote me lengthy emails or who sent me their 150-page book manuscript, with a note that said, “Please read and let me know what you think,” even though this would take countless hours of my time, was outside of our scope of work or agreement, and I wouldn’t be compensated.
It just didn’t seem fair and I felt taken advantage of, growing more and more resentful each time I agreed to these requests that served them but not me. Over time, I realized it was my fault this was continuing to happen because I was the one who had agreed to their request the first few times they asked. I knew that I needed to revisit our working relationship and educate them that we were going to be changing the way we would be working together going forward. It was the only way to gain back control of my time.
Here’s what I did, so that perhaps you can do the same too.
First, I drafted up my new list of standards for “what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable” in our dealings with each other, i.e. boundaries. I then turned them into my set of policies and procedures, essentially communicating “how we do things around here,” wording it as nicely as I could. Next, I drafted them up into a document that I shared with existing clients, which was included in the welcome packet all new clients received and were required to sign off on to be able to move forward in working with me.
This series of steps was life-changing for me. My clients got the message and the majority of them were absolutely respectful of my new policies. The one client who wasn’t okay with this new way of working with me left grumbling and complaining, and I was thrilled to see him go. Needless to say, he knew all along that he’d been taking advantage of me. We both did.
Truth be told, it’s always easier to educate new clients or team members about new boundaries, rather than trying to do so with people who’ve gotten used to dealing with you in a certain way. The good news is that it can be done.
Sometimes, a longtime client who’s been abusing your time won’t like your new standards and will walk away from your working relationship. That can be a great blessing as it clears your calendar for new, better clients who will honor your new way of working, or to focus on important activities that will leverage your business even further.
Enforcing your boundaries is self-esteem in action. Having boundaries is all well and good, but if they’re not enforced, they might as well not exist. I believe that one of the reasons most people don’t have boundaries in the first place is that they’re afraid they’ll have to enforce them, and that means playing “the bad cop,” the one person no one really likes.
Enforcing your stated boundaries is not about being unlikable, cold or heartless. It’s about standing firm on what you believe, and taking a stand for what’s important to you. It’s self-esteem in action. If you think about people who have strong boundaries and enforce them with kindness, the likelihood is that you actually have respect for them, that you admire how they care for themselves, and that it’s actually more comfortable to be around them, because you always know where you stand.
For an oil lamp to keep burning brightly, the oil container needs to be refilled continually. The same goes with you. As it relates to your business, you can’t keep providing value to your clients and customers if you’re physically and emotionally depleted because someone is taking advantage of you.
When boundary issues or warning signs appear, address these issues with the client quickly. Be sensitive to their feelings when doing this, but also stay firm. If they trespass a boundary, send them an email remind- ing them about a stated policy (boundary). Perhaps, if this is the first time they’ve trespassed it, you may “let it slip this time” by giving them a get-out-of-jail-free card, as I used to say with a smile. At the same time, I would let them know that the next time it happened I would follow through on the stated policy. Clients usually found that this was fair and appreciated the reminder.
By all means, make yourself available for clients if there is an emergency. Sink into your heart, have compassion, and be of service, but beware of clients who will repeatedly take advantage of you and your kindness. The key is to be kind, but also firm. I often tell my clients (and my children certainly know this about me too) that “I’m loving, but not lenient.”
Ideally, you are not the one playing the bad cop. Your assistant or office manager should do the bad cop job so you can continue being the good cop. This means that your assistant is the one delivering the news that something isn’t working and gently reminding your client about what’s acceptable and not acceptable, as stated in the policies and procedures.
And not every client will follow your new boundaries. That being said, it’s perfectly acceptable to fire a client who doesn’t behave. The client is not always right. Some “saboteur clients” will never adhere to your policies and will wreak havoc on your schedule and your team’s time. Step in and say something. If that doesn’t change the behavior, then it’s time to lovingly release them back into the world so they can find someone else better suited for them.
It goes without saying, you will always be your worst enemy around boundaries, especially if you are a compassionate person, someone who seeks harmony or avoids confrontation. That said, if you don’t enforce your own standards and boundaries, saboteur clients won’t take you seriously and they will keep creating problems in your business, while eating up your most valuable resource: the time you need to build your business even further, and the time to enjoy the things (and people) you love.
Leverage your time in this way and you can scale your business and gain your life back.
Beware of taking on the “rescuer” role. A big mindset shift that must occur if you’re committed to leveraging your business and gaining your freedom back is to realize that you are responsible to your clients but not for them, or their results...
Beware of taking on the “rescuer” role. A big mindset shift that must occur if you’re committed to leveraging your business and gaining your freedom back is to realize that you are responsible to your clients but not for them, or their results. This can be a big pill to swallow at first, because many business owners feel that their role is to save the client.
This is not true. You are not here to rescue your clients. Your role is to give clients what you agreed to give them, and under no circumstances does this include giving them your proverbial first-born child.
Playing the role of the rescuer or superhero leads to exhaustion, burnout or “compassion fatigue” that comes from lack of sleep or anxiety related to the client’s situation. It also leads to enabling your client to not take ownership for their part of the working relationship and sets up a codependent one instead, which ultimately does not serve them.
Yes, playing the “rescuer” role feels good for a while because it makes you feel like a hero. It is tied into the ego feeling significant and that you are here to save the day, continually. But unless you have a done-for-you business, what you’re doing in the process is akin to energetically crippling the client, not allowing them to take personal responsibility for their results or their life. It’s the equivalent of severely over-protecting a child. Doing this doesn’t prepare them for the realities of life in adulthood.
One of the first things I teach in the program is the concept of personal responsibility, that everyone is responsible for their own outcomes, and that you create your life with every action, as well as every inaction.
Imagine hiring a nutritionist who invites you to eat more green vegetables, drink more water, replace packaged and processed foods with organic whole foods and move your body more often. Imaging now that, instead of following their sound advice, you sit on your sofa morning to night, eating buckets of greasy processed food and guzzling soda by the liter. In the end, it is your responsibility, not theirs, if you don’t get the results you initially signed up for, correct?
The same goes with your clients and customers.
Assuming that you set up your products, programs, or offerings with integrity, knowing that you’ve included everything you can to practically “guarantee” results if applied fully, your clients’ outcomes are their personal responsibility, not yours. This means that you are responsible for giving them what you promised, and yet, in the end, the outcome is based on their choices.
This is usually difficult to own if you’re a business owner who’s played the rescuer role for many years and you feel important as a result of doing so. Problem is, this is tiring and not sustainable for the long run. If you want to overcome “compassion fatigue” and gain your time back, a mindset shift around overgiving must be made, along with the appropriate actions of letting the client be more responsible for their own results.
You are likely giving too much access to your clients. Whenever we are working with a new member in the program who is overwhelmed and drowning in their business, we examine their business model and how they actually deliver the work to their clients. Often, the clue is right there: their clients have an unnecessary overabundance of access to the business owner.
Many entrepreneurs in the early stages of their business believe that clients can only get great results if they are holding their hand the whole time. This happened to me too. We worry that without our consistent personal presence, the client will not get what they’re paying for.
This is not true. In fact, if we’re being honest, being available to your clients 24/7 is often driven by fear on the business owner’s part: fear of not being able to control an outcome, of not feeling needed, and, for some, a deeply hidden fear of loss of love or abandonment, often replay- ing itself from childhood.
What we almost always discover with our members experiencing this is that their clients don’t actually need as much time with them as the business owner originally thought. Yes, the client wants it because it’s been made available to them, but they don’t actually require it. An associate or “junior you” can take over after some time, perhaps after the initial meeting. When the proverbial baton has been passed, you are free to spend your time moving your business forward again, rather than babysitting a client.
Here’s what this can look like: a website designer or interior designer can initially be the one to meet with the new client, understand their problem, design the website layout or room decor strategy, and then the junior designer can step in to finish the work, under the designer’s supervision of course.
When the client understands this procedure upfront, and that the junior designer is the person to contact on a daily basis after the initial round of meetings, they feel comfortable with the process. The upside (and you can communicate this to them) is that instead of only working with one person, this arrangement gives them a team of professionals working on their account.
When we do remove access little by little, either by slowly taking it away, replacing your support with that of another team member, or automating it with technology, we notice that the clients still get results.
Certainly, an education process is needed if a client has been used to working with you a certain way; an education process that involves you teaching your clients how to get results without you being available at all times of day or night. Instead of handing them a fish, you support them to fish by themselves or get the fish from your assistant, rather than from you. This will serve them much better going forward, especially if you are already difficult to reach.
What you must realize in removing access is that you will be more resistant to it than the client will be. It’s more about you being okay with letting go and not being as available for daily handholding.
If you aren’t yet comfortable removing 24/7 type support from your clients, save this “unlimited access” option for those who pay a hefty premium for it, with some sort of VIP program. Even then, access must be kept to a reasonable amount if you want to leverage your business further.
A business that requires you (especially 24/7) is not a leveraged business. Embracing this concept and actually reducing your availability, or providing a replacement for you, is another important aspect of leveraging your time so that you can focus it on building your business.
What’s the impact of applying the Time Activator in your business? Alan explains it to you in his own words: “We own a brand design company where we help clients dissect who they are and rebuild their brand from their core values and purpose, so they can be remarkable and attract the appropriate clients.
“I was struggling, both internally and externally, with finding a purpose and knowing what I wanted to do with my business and my life. I had extreme ups and downs with my business and I could never seem to get beyond a certain level. It was extremely frustrating.
“I sensed that there was something more out there that I just wasn’t understanding. One day, I said, ‘I just want enlightenment. Give me something.’ The next day, I got the weekly email newsletter from Fabienne about a three-day event she was hosting. I attended that event and in the middle of the first day, I called my wife and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I think this is everything I’ve been looking for.’ Pieces started falling into place.
“I thought I was a failure, and I thought of money as a bad thing from my childhood. I realized that I wasn’t alone in that thinking, and that if you flip that thinking, you can start creating your life and your business. You get a completely different approach to life.
“I had hit quite a low in my life. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I was so desperate. I hated my journey and I hated my life. To be quite honest, if I hadn’t found this program, things would be much, much different.
“Today, I love my journey. I get up at 4:30 every morning because I’m excited about what will happen that day. I don’t resist things. If I expect a certain thing to happen that day and it doesn’t happen, I don’t get upset. I go with the flow, and I’ve got a bigger vision than I’ve ever had for my business. If something doesn’t quite work out, I don’t freak out like I used to.
“I’ve got things in perspective. I know what I’m doing. I’m very focused. My time is used very wisely. I can prioritize things. I used to be overwhelmed all the time but I’m not anymore. I’m very intentional with what I do. I used to work sixty-plus hours per week, but now, I get up early because I want to.
“I go meet my daughter at the bus at 4:00 p.m., and that’s the end of my day. I work Monday through Friday, and, actually, now I’m taking Fridays as my self-care and clarity break day. I’m still getting everything done. I’m not overwhelmed and my business is thriving, though we’ve still got a lot of things we want to accomplish.
“I feel like I’m back in high school when I was excited about life and the potential of things.
“Your thoughts can become things. You have to have a vision. Then you have to believe in your vision, and then take action. I used to have ideas and I might have taken sporadic actions, but I didn’t believe in myself. I’d get really excited, and then when I wouldn’t get what I thought I would get, I would crash and get upset.
“Now, it’s the thought, the belief, and the action, trusting in my journey and just being able to dissect differently than what I did before. I create a framework around the vision now. I let the ‘how it’s going to get done’ work itself out. I focus on the moment each day.
“I now have the framework and the big vision, and I just let things happen. As long as I’m always moving forward with intention, I can see the opportunities along the way. Before, I wouldn’t really see them. I’d think I would see them, or I’d know how it would need to be, but that wasn’t the right way.
“I’m now leveraging my unique brilliance and having other people do the things that I really am not the best at. I’ve learned to give things up and let people help. I used to do everything myself, but by only doing what I do best, and allowing others to do things to help me do what I do best, my business infrastructure has come to life, along with my mind.
“I have a better relationship with my family and I feel better about myself as a result of it. I dream bigger for my business, and I’m hitting bigger goals as a result of it as well. It’s been life changing for me.” — Alan Wallner