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Episode description:

Welcome back to our 3rd series of the Let’s Get Down to Business podcast: The Growth Series. In this series we will take you through every step to growing your business, starting with getting you and your business ready for growth.

Today’s episode is the second part of our two-part episode on how to scale up your business without losing your values or your mind.

In this episode, we’re joined by A4G Partner, Emma White, to help you discover and overcome the limiting factors that may be stopping you from growing, particularly focusing on lack of time (a common complaint from business owners). Emma shares advice and tips on how to have more time to work ON your business (not in it)

Let’s continue the conversation…

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Pre-order a copy of Accidental Millionaires (A book by our Managing Partner, Malcolm Palmer)

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Valuable resources – recommended reads 

The E-Myth Revisited 

The 5AM Club

Speaker 0 00:00:02 Now then back to today’s episode, if you were growing your business at any given moment, there’ll be one limiting factor, which is stopping you from growing. So it could be lack of finance needed for the premises, the range of services or products you offer, even finding new customers. But for many businesses, the limiting factor is a bit more, a bit closer to home, and that is their time. So today we’re going to focus on where the lack of time is stopping you from growing your business. And if so, what you can do about it to help us with this I’m joined today by Emma. White’s a partner at a 4g. Hi Emma, how are you? Speaker 1 00:00:33 Hello? I’m good. Thank you. Oh, Speaker 0 00:00:35 Well, good. Um, good to have you on again. So one of the big questions I’m sure many business owners have asked themselves, you know, if they’re considering pushing their business for growth and that’s, what is the direction for me and my business? So I’ve specifically separated these out because well, they’re two separate things. You know, the business owner and the business may have different future paths, even though it may not seem that way right now, or perhaps it is clear and they already know where they’re heading, but what it’d be great to start with discussing them is really what sorts of things they should be asking themselves to start getting this super clear in their minds. Speaker 1 00:01:11 Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think what normally drives businesses is often about, I suppose, the, the aims of, of the business owner to start with and quite often, um, particularly initially that’s always about what they want it to look like for them personally as well. So I always think it’s really good, particularly, you know, we’re starting a new year here, so it’s always nice to have some very clear ideas about what you want to achieve personally, and just start jotting those down so that you, they can start to evolve into some more detailed plans. Um, it’s one of the things we’re quite big on at a 4g is having kind of a clear plan on where we are now and where we want to be, um, you know, sort of the next 12, 24 months so that we can then break it down into little milestones that are a bit more achievable. Speaker 0 00:02:07 Yeah. Could you maybe perhaps expand on what a strategic plan or vision would look like for the typical business owner and you know, how, how would the business owners sort of define that direction? Speaker 1 00:02:17 Yeah, well, I think quite often there are an absolutely huge amount of things that they may want to achieve, but she just prioritize in their top three. And we, we refer to this as you’ve got your 60, 30 10 plan. Um, and we talk about how, you know, it’s almost 60% of your efforts should go into number one on your list. 30% is bubbling away on number two and, and your 10% is just teeing up sort of number three. Um, and, and, and that’s really based on what you feel either has the, I suppose, the best return on investment for the business, but probably is most motivating as well for you as an individual and what you want to achieve, because if there’s no real passion for what into achieving that, um, you know, it’s just going to be a bit hard to get off the ground. So it’s really thinking about, you know, your priorities and what you’re most passionate about Civi. Speaker 0 00:03:18 Yeah. And I like that. I think when you have too many goals or things to achieve, you can get sidetracked and you end up starting things half and then not finishing them or not seeing them through. And I think, like you say, just picking three to focus on, we’ll give you a really defined vision. Okay. Well, even if that’s the next three months, that’s what we’re going to focus on. And that’s what the whole business is going to focus on. And that’s what the team’s going to focus on. And it gets people stops. People get from structured, I suppose. Speaker 1 00:03:46 Yeah, absolutely. I don’t think it’s easy to explain to your team as well as, or pass that down. So everyone’s pulling in the right direction. Um, and again, like they don’t have to be massive goals, but they have to be things that are quite achievable so that you can gain a bit of momentum with, you know, with what you want to achieve. And it’s just about, isn’t it just getting everyone focused in the same direction and, you know, you can always gain much better traction if everyone’s working together on a goal that’s easy to understand and that they’re all talking about at the same time. Speaker 0 00:04:22 Yeah, I completely agree, because I think another typical thing we see is that business owners end up spending too much time working in rather than on their business. So I think sometimes they actually struggled to set aside the regular time to step back, focus on exercising, their business strategy. You know, what tools would you recommend with anyone trying to overcome this particular problem? Speaker 1 00:04:45 Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s probably one of the most typical things, you know, business owners face and it’s so hard and I think it’s, and we all know it don’t mean even in our personal lives, we have kind of a lack of awareness of time. And so sometimes there’s a lot of things it’s like, oh, I would like to do that at some point. And because it’s so generalized, it’s really hard to focus on or get any deadlines in place. There’s nothing to hold you accountable. And I think for business that is, you know, you’re so busy trying to sort of, you know, do your customers get the business, juggle profitability, new clients, staffing. Um, but actually to start with there’s two things I’d always recommend is to start with an awareness of where your time is spent. So try and keep a little log for a few weeks of sort of every 15 minutes where your time is being spent within the business, because that means you can really reflect on that and have a look at the things that you’re getting maybe dragged into that either shouldn’t take as long or you should your maybe having to deal with on a regular basis that you shouldn’t have to, because if there’d been something put in place to stop things happening, you wouldn’t getting drawn into it. Speaker 1 00:05:59 Um, and the, the second thing would be almost time to list out all the things that you do as a business owner, because quite often you end up doing things that you don’t need to do. So, I mean, I always think the easiest way to do that is like a pack of post-it note because, you know, you jot everything down on a post-it note. You can then, if you, if you’re starting to work out, actually there’s things that you’re doing. You can start putting them in little what I call swim lanes, which is almost like this is the marketing and sales for the business. This is the administration, this is the finance. Maybe this is the HR. And if you start getting them into those lanes of all the different hats you wear as a business owner, um, you can start seeing how you might be able to, you know, either find someone to help you with that. Speaker 1 00:06:46 Or maybe it shouldn’t be your responsibility because you’ve got someone in finance and yet you’re being dragged into, I don’t know, dealing with petty cash or making supplier payments because it’s not well organized. You know, there’s all sorts of things that I think business owners, because you’ve, you’re used to doing it where you built it from the ground up, you get dragged back into. So I think that the two things can give you real clarity on where your time is going. And then you can start thinking about actually what you want your week to look like. Um, you know, if you read a lot of business books, like I do, you know, a lot of, a lot of the, sort of talk about productivity and planning is about planning the day, day, and week ahead. Um, and just having some really clear goals and also getting together like a list of the things you won’t tolerate, they call it. Speaker 1 00:07:42 So it’s almost like all the distractions that you get dragged into that you kind of accept because, you know, you just can’t help it cause you’re busy. So you just take on all these sort of monkeys and you end up doing all these tasks yourself. So you must need to set quite a strict discipline about the things that you aren’t going to deal with. And you’re going to back back to the person, giving it to you or try and find a different solution or, um, hand off the responsibility. Cause it is time is precious and we can all get drawn into things that are distracting and not the best use of our time. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:08:17 Yeah. I don’t like that. I think that’s, you know, it’s sort of links with, it’s not necessarily procrastination, you know, because I’m sure it will, business owners wants to grow. We’d like to think they’re not procrastinating, but you know, we all like doing the things that we like to do, even business owners. So although they might be getting dragged back into it, secretly they’re comfortable with it. It means they’re not having to push themselves out of their comfort zone and, you know, do the strategic planning sort of thing. So they, you know, they could easily be keeping those things where really, they just need to take a more of a backstep and say, look, I don’t need to be doing these things and what I can let them go, you know, you know, a big part of the strategic growth, you know, it’s, it is linked to the quality of the management of the, and understanding how the business is performing, being proactive with actively managed the business, you know, is showing actions reported, carried out, monitoring the business performance, speaking to staff, listening to customers, all that sort of business management. But if someone is struggling to get that management sort of right, what sort of things could a business owner do to either assess that or just correct their management style in those areas? Speaker 1 00:09:21 Yeah, absolutely. Sure. I think it’s so hard, isn’t it? I just think business owners are so busy. They just lack reflection time. Whereas actually reflection time is so important. And I think once you’ve got staff, you know, we all put job adverts out there to attract the people we want, but actually do we use those jobs for maybe a more detailed version of the job advert, which is what we would call kind of the job specification, um, and the job, you know, a detailed job role description for exactly what is expected of that person. We, I think where it often falls down is that doesn’t form any part of the process of managing that member of staff, having clear goals and responsibilities and actually sort of, we put those job adverts out because it’s often about the types of personalities we want to attract or the skillset. Speaker 1 00:10:13 But if we just put a little bit more detail into that and use it as a job role page that they should be looking at on a regular basis, because it clearly sets out what you need of them as the business owner and manage them by that, um, it can make it much easier to kind of leverage yourself and not take on, um, sometimes parts of the job that, you know, they’re not comfortable doing, um, or they don’t want to do, or they need training to help them with. So I think it was just those very clear boundaries. And that’s just the start of how you kind of start systemizing a business. I mean, a 4g, we have a lot of systems and processes and the reason we do that is so everyone’s got their clear responsibilities, but also it’s a way of cloning the process that you want someone to follow as best practice and that’s built on, you know, all the time. But I think that’s quite often why people don’t let go of things is it’s because really we think we’re the person that can do it the best. Um, which is, which is probably true as a business owner. You’ve got the most experience of the industry, but you’ll limit your growth by doing that. So, you know, some, some checklists and processes being built into people’s roles, just help ensure people are following like your thought process or the process. You’ve always followed to make sure that no errors occur Speaker 0 00:11:41 And that’s it. And I think that’s, that’s one of the, you know, the realities is there are some things that a business owner needs to let go, and if they have a hand in documented it, how they would do it and how they want it done going forward, training their staff on that, I think it will give people the peace of mind that it’s going to be done, how the way they want to do it. And they can eventually sort of let it go a little bit. And I think it goes back to what you said about the post-it notes. You know, essentially Emma, we could use our post-it notes and our lanes to start creating our systems and our role pages. Um, so it’s like quite a nice little process, um, to go through, you know, we’re looking at limiting factors closer to home pair, and quite often this isn’t just limited to business owners. This is limited to anyone. Um, you know, quite often we all end up doing the same thing we’ve always done, and then we struggled to get the results we’re aiming for, you know, so how could a business owner maybe identify as the ways they aren’t being flexible with certain things and, and try to start do doing things differently in their business? Speaker 1 00:12:41 Well, quite, quite often, I think you’re right. I think the, the almost automatic reaction to being busier as to work longer hours. Um, and then because you’re working longer hours, you’ve got less time to check in with staff or even consider what staff you might need if you don’t have staff. And whereas actually spending some time reflecting on your time using the post-its, you can start to build out what you need. And quite often, you know, as, as an owner manager, you’ve got to look at the return on investment for your time. You know, if you’re doing things like sorting out the petty cash flow expenses for employees or picking up the meal or opening the post, you know, these aren’t things that are testing, you know, testing your abilities and they’re certainly not worth, you know, the owner managers time as, so this is how you can just develop little areas where you bring in additional staff and then you spend a little bit more time nurturing them through, because obviously they’re probably looking for growth and development. Um, and it is, you know, it’s, I suppose when you’re, when you start a business, you’re not necessarily taught the, you know, you might know your industry, but dealing with people’s very different. Um, I mean, there’s, there’s some great books out there or not the one minute manager, um, and just all sorts of things about how you transitioned into managing, managing people. And it’s just setting some time aside for that really. Speaker 0 00:14:08 Yeah. And actually you made me think of another book in terms of, you know, setting these systems in place. That’s the E-Myth is a great source of, you know, how you can get these systems and processes set up and in place. Um, uh, starting to do a bit of division of your tasks, especially, I mean, you know, if our listeners are one man bands with no staff, it’s almost where do we even start. Um, and actually, you know, writing things down about what they do and don’t do, and you can then sort of prioritize, you know, a business owners, probably most business owners, best strength is going to be customer relationship. I would have thought, you know, um, you know, that’s how you started your business, you know, talking to people, selling your product or service. And that’s probably where you need to be like, you know, if you want to grow at least, but you need the infrastructure underneath to be right in order to allow, allow the growth behind that. Speaker 0 00:14:58 Um, so, you know, sort of, in addition to all of this, we might need to consider, excuse me, on knowledge, experience and skills of either ourselves or our team, you know, um, cause we might not even the business owner might not be at the level yet required to push the growth thereafter. And so in order to facilitate that growth, they need to push themselves into a position of leadership instead of a position of doing, um, you know, which they might not be currently doing yet. So in terms of a business owners, sort of leadership and management skills, which you just mentioned, but probably doesn’t necessarily get taught, um, at any point for a business owner, you know, how could they start to look at growing their business, um, and themselves into the leader, which it will need upon its growth, growth plans evolving. Speaker 1 00:15:45 Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we work with quite a lot of clients where we have, um, a pre-read meeting and that’s the meetings or six to eight weeks before your year end. So the, we talk to people about their strategy and part of the advantage of this is obviously we do some detailed notes from those meetings and we set out the aims for the business going forward and, you know, we can kind of help hold them accountable. So it’s really good for all business owners to have someone in their kind of close circle that they can kind of share their dreams with and what they’re planning for the business and hold them a little bit accountable and also hold themselves accountable. Like they need a little check-in point, but I certainly think there are, you know, there’s some really good books out there, you know, we’re happy to talk to anyone about some of the books we rate that might just steer down a path or work towards certain problems. Um, but also one of the things that we’re building into our business growth breakthrough program is actually a little training tool. Isn’t it? Charlotte, that we’ve got two that will give training courses online, little bite-sized pieces that can be used for owner managers and kind of those manager or those staff that you want to get into a much more manager like position so that they can start working on their development as well in terms of really about organization and productivity. Speaker 0 00:17:11 Yeah, well they say, you know, leaders are readers, aren’t they? And I think if you can set example for your team of how, you know, how you’re constantly learning, even as a business owner, you’re constantly learning and adapting and changing that will just feed from your team with your training programs and the way you speak to them, the way you communicate with them. And they will pick that up and event, you know, if you want to cultivate a culture that is continually learning and wanting to grow and develop and push, and that’s that, that’s how you’ll take the team with you rather than sort of, you will end up growing and you’ll leave your team behind and you need your team behind you, you know, in order to help you push the growth because invariably, you’re probably not going to be able to do it all on your own. Speaker 0 00:17:52 And I think that leads me onto the next bit, you know, we will end up needing help, you know, even if you’re a small five employees, if you want to 10 X, 20 X, whatever it is, your turnover, you’re going to need some help. You’re going to need more staff, um, probably to do this. Um, even if you use technology and things like that, you’re going to need a team. We’re obviously going to cover this in a lot more detail later within the series, but Emma, could you just maybe just give us some sort of good advice here about where to start with ensuring that our team are geared up and ready to support rather than hinder our growth plans? Speaker 1 00:18:25 Um, absolutely. I mean, some of the best, best businesses sort of, we work with, certainly I work with, they’re very clear, um, to the whole of staff about the plans for the business, for the coming year, but also the things they’ve got in place, our job roles and also regular review processes. I think it’s one of those things that most businesses see it see as this sort of little hate char requirement. That’s just about pie. Um, and I th I think you’ve got to turn that on its head a bit, you know, if you need someone to develop quite quickly, you’ve got a book there check-ins, you know, that might be the, you need to book them in quarterly and talk to them about what they’re doing in their job, their strengths and their weaknesses and what they need to work on, and just keep evolving that process and educating them about what, where you’re trying to take the business and what you need from them to do that. Speaker 1 00:19:21 You know, I think people are quite willing to, you know, they work really hard if they feel like you believe in them, but quite often it’s people get recruited into a role. And it’s just a case of, oh, we think you should know how to do that role. And you just come in and you just do that role. Um, so it’s, you know, especially anyone that shows enthusiasm and stuff, it is getting the job, like you say, the job roles, some processes in place, but just that regular time with them to talk about the pros and cons of what’s going on at the moment, you know, what they’re doing really well when you want them to do more of, but it might be that they’ve got someone reporting to them that they’re not dealing with typically. Well, and just trying to keep that process flowing so that the business can gain momentum. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:20:08 Yeah. I completely agree. Completely agree. Well, another key complaint is, you know, there was just not enough hours in the day. Um, and from a more personal, probably less business specific perspective, could you perhaps run through some areas where we recommend analyzing just to ensure you’re setting yourself up for sort of maximize in the short amount of time, you do have to run your business. I mean, I know you touched on it at the beginning. Um, but yeah. Any more specific things in terms of analyzing, you know, where, where we are. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:20:36 Oh, absolutely. I mean, it is good to keep it at a regular check on your time as I said, but I think it’s also important to be kind of in charge of your day. So I dunno, some of our listeners may have read the 5:00 AM club. It’s quite a funny book. And actually I’m reading that and working with my business coach, I realized that there’s some things I do in the morning to feel like I’m winning, um, just from a personal perspective. So, you know, like I, I get up at five 30, I’ll go downstairs, I’ll make sure the dishes are loaded, uh, washes on and the clothes from the day before we’ll put away. And I have this little routine and I didn’t even realize I had it, um, just to be in charge of the day, the same as, you know, I tend to be a bit religious about why for breakfast and taking my vitamins and stuff like that, just so I can be in from. Speaker 1 00:21:31 Um, and then I think once you feel like you’re in that mindset, you then look at, you know, you get into work a little bit earlier, you look at your plan, um, sort of your, I mean, I look at my quarterly goals, break those down into what I need to do this week. Make sure I’ve got time set aside in my diary, um, to do those. And so that I have very clear parts of the day where you switch hats. Cause I think, you know, as a owner manager, you have to switch hats all the time and if you’re doing it too often, it can be really distracting. So sometimes it’s almost like you need to go in with like, I’m focused on sales today, or I’m focused on operations or I’m going to reflect on the finances and just try and start sort of having, you’re having a bit of a routine around when you do certain things. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:22:18 I dunno. I like that. Um, you know, getting, getting ahead of the day because there’s nothing worse than sort of running behind getting stuck at traffic, you straighten the office, people put it wrong. We haven’t even sat down yet at your desk or had a cup of coffee or whatever it might be. And before you know it, it’s lunchtime and you’re fire-fighting and you haven’t actually done anything you want to do. And I think it’s, it’s not just a business owner. This happens all the time, but especially for business owner, maybe, you know, maybe the morning isn’t for you, you got to find out when is the right time for you, maybe your nights are maybe it’s you wouldn’t you do it before you go to bed. So you mind swearing overnight. I don’t know what it is, but like getting your days up in the morning or having some time, even if that’s half an hour, even if it’s an hour before the chaos of the running the day gets away from you, maybe that slow time that you sit down and think of your strategic goal. Speaker 0 00:23:05 So throughout the day you think your decisions will be is that reaching, helping me reach my goal is that decision going to help me reach my goal? So you set your day up, you know, like you say, sit you down right from the beginning, so that anything that happens during the day you’ve got control over. So I really like that. Um, so thank you. Remember, like this has given us fantastic insight into just of how lack of time could be stopping people from growing their business. And it is a key limiting factor which really often gets overlooked and sort of just accepted that we just don’t have enough time in a time of the day, but it doesn’t have to be like that. I mean, do you have any final pieces of practical advice or perhaps a case study you can share with us where you’ve seen an overcome this for the business owner? Speaker 1 00:23:45 What are the things I’ll have done with a number of clients is the post-it note thing where you suddenly realize that actually as the business owner, they are opening the post, they’re going to buy milk and things like that. And it’s like, actually, you know, if you had two hours of administration help twice a week, that gets rid of that at quite a low hourly rate. Um, and it just frees you up to not have silly distractions like that on your mind. I mean, who needs to be, you know, buying them worried about whether you’ve got enough milk for coffee, it’s just not, it shouldn’t be yeah. Something, the business owner, if he’s got other staff needs, needs to worry about. So he’s trying to get rid of those little worries, but I think my biggest tip is actually start reflecting on how your time is broken down throughout the day and week. Speaker 1 00:24:34 If you do that for a couple of weeks, you will soon say the bits you can chop out or maybe doing less time. It really is about starting to reflect. And you know, I mean they say about dream boards, don’t they? But I have on one for having a very clear list written down of your priorities. Brilliant. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Emma. Oh, thank you so much for having me. This is something that, you know, I’m really passionate about and actually I’ve spent quite a lot of time working on myself because I think there’s despite the fact that we’re accountants and we monitor our time all the time, there’s always room for improvement. So you know, is quite important. And what I’ve realized is if you let it seep into, you know, extended hours, it just impacts your home life and actually your energy levels. So you’re having some disciplines around it can really help. Brilliant. Thank you. Thank you so much.