I’ve always shared that when you love your work, you’ll never feel like you’re working. It might sound crazy to some people, but I’m actually a little sad on most Thursdays. Why? Because Thursday night is when I’m winding down my work week. With entrepreneurship, there are always more things you’ll want to do than you’ll have time. While I love being with my family, I love it when I’m able to work as well. Unfortunately, most people are trapped with their jobs and businesses. In today’s post, I’ll share how to take back your schedule, build flexibility, and enjoy the things that really matter.
No, it wasn’t always like this. In 2006, I owned a small mortgage company. I was 29 years old and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My glucose levels were over 500 and I was extremely sick. I wasn’t overweight, but I was extremely burnt out and stressed. I had to work 80 hour work weeks just to keep up. When the economy took a dive, I worked even harder to try to save the business. I was sleep deprived, never exercised, and ate terribly. After we lost everything in 2007, I vowed that I’d never let my life get crazy like that again. After all the hard work and sleepless nights, we still ended up in bankruptcy and foreclosure.
When I started LMS, I wanted to build a work schedule that I would love. It had to give more time for family, my health, and the things that really mattered. As I considered starting a business as a marketing consultant, I realized this business could provide extreme flexibility. Obviously, it is more flexible than owning a retail store, but most outsiders don’t truly understand why my business is so flexible. The truth is, there are hundreds of marketing consultants and agencies working crazy hours. They’re unhealthy, stressed, and have terrible relationships with their families. Today I want to share a couple of tips for building amazing flexibility with your business.
Building the Infrastructure
If you want flexibility, the secret is in the systems. The reason we can have a four day work week is because of the systematic infrastructure at LMS. This means, everything we do allows for ultimate flexibility. From our phone system to emails, everything is cloud based. I can work wherever and whenever I need to because of these systems. Clients are automatically invoiced because of the systems. These systems include support staffing, technology, automation, and the tools we use. While it would take way too long to go through every system, what you need to realize is that flexibility isn’t a matter of luck. It happens by prioritizing and building systems which will allow your life to be flexible. It isn’t automatic or easy, and it takes careful planning and loads of work.
Beyond systems and infrastructure, the next step is setting expectations. This means clarifying expectations for your clients, staff members, and everyone who does business with you. You have to tell them when and how you’ll be working, how long things take, and how they can communicate with you. Our clients know that we’re closed on Friday. They know they can’t call me on my cell phone. They also know that if they want to speak to me, the best bet is to schedule on my calendar. They know that I probably won’t reply to their emails on the same day. The mail lady knows she has to ring the door bell at our office to see if we’re in or not. Fedex knows to leave the packages with our neighbors if we’re not in. It is how we work. They know it, we know it, and it gives us amazing flexibility.
If you want a business that gives you true freedom, you’ll have to set expectations early, and keep reminding everyone about how you work. And yes, from time to time you’ll have someone come along that will fight the systems and want to be the exception. They will try to steal your time and demand your cell phone number. They will text you and want you to call them on Sunday night at 11 PM. Don’t do it! If you will ever have freedom in your business, you’ll have to be strong and let them know if they want to continue, they’ll need to adapt or work with someone else. It sounds harsh, but freedom and flexibility comes when you prioritize it and fight for it.
Fighting for It
Yes, it is worth it. Your spouse, your kids, and you deserve better. Whatever business you operate, you must fight for your schedule. You must fight to build flexibility into your business. Why? Because there is more to life than work! Yes, I love my clients, students, and staff. But, when I’m on my death bed, I won’t be thinking of them will I? Nope!
Over the last couple of years, we’ve continued to innovate and build systems so we could grow and still maintain our flexibility. It has taken a lot of time and work. However, over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen the fruit of our labor. My oldest daughter broke her wrist and I was able to take her to the hospital and be there with her. I was at the follow-up appointment. I’ll be at the next one too. On the last two Fridays, I’ve invested in my marriage and in other friendships. I’ve been able to exercise. All of this, and the business is right on track! Yes, I had to work late a couple of nights to get things done, but I didn’t mind that because I could be there for my family. It isn’t because I’m smarter, better, or even my business model. As I mentioned before, there are plenty of marketers who are stressed to the max and working crazy hours. The reason for our flexibility is because of the systems, setting expectations, and continuing to fight for this freedom. I’ve posted a quick video below from my adventures over the last couple of Fridays. So how’s your schedule? Is your business ruling you? It is time to fight for the things that matter most!