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Edition 139 – Time Out

One of the reasons people choose to go into business is to create a better life for themselves and their families. However, in my opinion, lifestyle is the first casualty on the path to staying in business.

For a number of years now, I’ve amplified the virtues of business owners using their business to build a better lifestyle for themselves. Some listen. Most don’t. A small portion act on the listening.

This week, let me relay a couple of recent conversations that I’ve had with my family business clients about taking time out of their business to focus on themselves, their lifestyle and their families.

One client relayed the news some weeks ago that his mother had been diagnosed with cancer. His mother is in her late 60’s and this client has a particularly close relationship with her. When I suggested to him that he needed to carve out time in his diary each week to spend time with her whilst she recovers from surgery, I was presented with a number of excuses, including:

  1. I can’t afford the time out;
  2. The diary is full;
  3. There are staff that need training.

In the second client’s situation, his partner works a 9 day fortnight and has suggested that from time to time (like, perhaps, each fortnight), he should try and arrange his diary so they can spend time with each other. His partner doesn’t work in the family business, however she poses an extremely valid question – if it’s your business, why can’t you make the decision to take some time out (even if it isn’t each fortnight)?

In the first client situation, this is a business of ten people, with three client facing professionals. The family business owner is one of those three. His diary is at full capacity. The other two have excess capacity and could easily accommodate his appointments between them for half a day.

In the second client situation, this is a business of forty plus people. Around half of them are client facing professionals. Almost three quarters of the remainder are also engaged in client based work, dealing mainly via email and phone. A number of the staff are not at capacity. And, yes, you guessed it – he’s just about at capacity.

In my opinion, there are five reasons why business owners don’t rule out some lifestyle time for themselves in their diaries:

  1. Guilt (which is an internal emotion) as they don’t want to be seen as the boss that is “skiving off”.
  2. They’re not ruthless with their time – so allow the day to slip away, which allows the week to slip away, which means the first thing they give up is something for themselves.
  3. They don’t believe they have capable staff (or enough of them) to take on the load whilst they’re away for half a day – which is either a training or a trust issue.
  4. They’re worried about what might happen if they didn’t have a full diary – which is an inability to see what they could grow into.
  5. They’re so used to running at full tilt they just don’t know how to slow down.

Now, I’m not perfect myself. However, I also advise based on my own experiences. If my wife and I had not made the lifestyle choices in our family business years ago for her to have a reduced involvement so she could focus on caring for her mother and our then two young sons, our lives today, and those of our sons, would be so much poorer. Trish’s mother passed away in 2012. Both of our sons today at 22 and almost 19 still recall living with Nan for 11 years. They are memories they will carry with them for the rest of their own lives, because we made some lifestyle choices.

Creating riches in our lives is not all about making money.

This Week’s Tip

“Take a Friday afternoon off; take your spouse out to lunch; duck out for a coffee on your own for an hour. You work late at night sometimes – at weekends other times. Give yourself a break.”