Are you living the dream or enduring the nightmare?

27 November 2018

Are you living the dream or enduring the nightmare?

As an ambitious entrepreneur, someone with energy, foresight and a creative mind, the problem with that mind is that it can sometimes keep us up at night.

If you suffer from sleepless nights, because your business keeps demanding attention, you are not alone. You will be amazed how many business owners I speak to who admit to having sleepless nights over their business.

You may have started your business from home, as a way out of the corporate world, or even as a hobby, but if you are on to something, then from small beginnings your business can quickly reach a stage where it becomes all consuming. It grows from your little home start up (your baby), into a big teenage hairy monster and, suddenly, it transforms from you being in control of the business to the business being in control of you.

Your business now rules your life!

All the reasons, ideas and motivation as to why we set up our business go out the window, especially when we set it up because we didn’t want to be working long hours; we wanted to be able to see more of our family, spend time on our health and well-being, and enjoy wonderful holidays, without worrying about ‘the office’!

Now the business has become this huge powerful beast that consumes us. It consumes our every waking hour – it dominates our thoughts and the need to be present with our family and friends becomes increasingly difficult, because the business wants to creep back into our thinking. Our family seeks our attention and it can cost us dearly if we can’t maintain a healthy balance. If this leads to an unhappy family life it will have all sorts of detrimental impact on our business and personal well-being. Having a strong happy family life is the foundation - the cornerstone – to building what you always hoped and dreamed of. It’s like building your business on a rock rather than on sand.

The four entrepreneurial essentials to sleeping well and living well are:


Look after yourself. Make sure you have time for your own personal well-being. You are the No 1 asset of your business. Fitness and good nutrition are essential ingredients for the successful entrepreneur. Follow the safety instructions when you board an aircraft and ‘put the mask on you first’. ‘Me time’ means getting the balance right between thinking and resting. 


Making sure you maintain a strong family life is the cornerstone to your future success. Be present. Make your family your priority in your diary. Colour code your diary with essential family appointments that take absolute priority over everything else. A family appointment is worth more that the biggest contract you could win. This includes precious irreplaceable family times (especially 5pm to 8pm of an evening). Turn off your phone – even the Prime Minister can’t get hold of you, because you are with your family.


How do we start to tame the hungry monster that’s become our business?

I speak to many business owners all around the country and one of the key influencers for all of us is to be able to plan strategically how to build our business. Having a vision is important, but unless it is clearly written and can be articulated and communicated, the chances of success are slim. Write out your plan. Make it clear, so even your children would understand what you are trying to achieve. In addition, make sure you have 2 plans (this is where most business owners go wrong!). You need a well thought out 1 to 3 year strategic plan, outlining your vision, values and goals and then you need an implementation plan. How, when and who will get you there!


Once you have well thought through plans to scale up your business, you need to make sure it has an fundamental ingredient. An ingredient that is designed to help this business to grow without you. Its like the yeast that goes into making the bread. It’s a tiny component and yet it’s the very thing that makes the bread rise when placed in the oven. How do we entrust the success and growth of our business to others? One of the very first things we need to consider when we develop our strategy is who we need around us to help build this business. Andrew Carnegie, one of the worlds most successful entrepreneurs and philanthropists of all time, passed away leaving a legacy in the early 1900’s to the world. On his gravestone it says - here lies a “Man who knew how to enlist in his service better men than himself”.

You must consider this for your business. How do we get around us more skilled, more able and more intelligent people than us? How do we attract the right people? Don’t take on that person if you are not sure. What you are looking for is someone better and more capable than you. Come on, let’s put aside our egos for a second. If you really want to build a business that can function and operate profitably and successfully without your day to day involvement, design it so that you only need to keep your hand on the tiller, keeping a watchful eye over its success and not become immersed, entangled and drowning in the day to day operations.


Be present with yourself and your family. Have clear plans for your business. Tame it. Grow it, but more importantly you must consider the truth that you can’t build a business. You build the people and the people build the business.

Even if you are currently a solo entrepreneur, get around you outstanding people in marketing, bookkeeping and talent acquisition. Don’t accept mediocrity from anybody. Ditch them quickly. Find new people if they are not delivering what you need. Be crystal clear about their roles and responsibilities and their KPI’s. This is essential, whether they work directly for you or indirectly with you as a supplier, in order to build this amazing enterprise – the one you have always dreamed of.

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