Do you have a good work-life balance?
That’s the question I asked the audience at the BOP Entrepreneur Social this month. And you probably won’t be surprised to learn that hardly anyone raised their hand.
I was giving a presentation about my journey as a business owner and my struggle with work-life balance. By the lack of hands raised at the question it seemed I'd chosen a hot topic.
That’s why, today, I’ve summarised the key points from my presentation. (Or, if you prefer, you can watch the video of my talk)
If you’re struggling with work-life balance you might relate and find a couple of handy tips at the end.
My father and I started FIK Laser almost 8 years ago. We identified a gap in the market and set about building our business as a laser cutting specialist — providing accurate and precise cutting with quick turnaround.
It was epic. We were totally focused on growing the business. And to be honest, it didn’t worry me that I was spending so much time at work. It was exciting, dynamic, and fulfilling.
But over time, the hours crept up on me and the pressure grew. Pretty soon I had no time for virtually anything but work. Things that had been important to me — family, friends, biking and the outdoors got less and less of my attention. I felt the constant pull of work. It became all-consuming.
One day Clyde, my father, called in sick. Long story short, he went on to have a couple of massive heart attacks, narrowly cheating death. Now that starts to put things into perspective. He was my partner in crime, we made all our business decisions together. Not only that, his illness meant we were one man down in a small tight team.
Don’t worry, he made a full recovery. But at the time it was too much to handle. My father and my business partner almost dying. One day I was at work and I simply broke down. I walked off the job and down the road.
That was the turning point. I realised something had to change. I needed some work-life balance. So with the help of my wife, Paulina, that’s what I set about doing.
Here’s what I learned:
While Clyde was ill and I was trying to cut back my hours and get my life back, things didn’t collapse. Quite the opposite. The team picked things up and ran the place without us. Sure, not everything was perfect but it was pretty darn good. I learned that when you have
good staff, they’ll step up when you need them to. And as the boss, you need to give them the freedom (and expectation) to do that. You need to make sure everyone is working to their full potential. You can’t be responsible for everything.
Here’s my advice:
Based on what I did to get my work-life balance back, these are my top five tips.
Striving for a work-life balance doesn’t mean slacking off. It means being laser focused. What are the important things you want to achieve for your business? Set your business goals and make them audacious. Your thinking is different when you think big. Refer back to them all the time
A daily ritual starts with writing down what I need to do today to work towards the goals we’ve set. Priorities become pretty clear. And delegation is essential!
Now the team come to me with solutions not problems. They’re taking responsibility for stuff that previously they would have deferred to me. The key here is good two-way communication.
Diet, exercise, sleep. It’s all important to ensuring when you’re at work you’re ‘ON’. For me, mountain biking is beneficial because when I’m biking it’s physical and mental. I can’t think about work when I’m hurtling down a steep track, so it’s a real release.
This applies to your team, but also networks and mentors. Groups such as BOP Entrepreneur Social are fantastic at getting you to think differently and do things you didn’t know you could (like public speaking in my case).
Don’t wait until you reach crisis point like I did. Take some action now and start getting some work-life balance back.
And I’m always keen for a bike ride. Just give me a call!
Ever been to EMEX?
This year three people from our team went along to check out EMEX 2018 in Auckland.
EMEX is New Zealand’s largest engineering, technology and manufacturing expo. You get to see all the industry supplier innovations and developments in one place.
It was so worthwhile, that next time we think we’ll take the whole team. It’ll be a great learning experience and also good for team building and comradery. Yes, that’s quite an expense when you take into account a whole day of lost production, plus the costs of travel and sustenance, but we believe it will be an investment
And here’s why.
Time away from day to day business looking at the latest developments and technology is inspiring. We all got to see and experience the bigger picture of what’s out there (and not just in our industry). It inspires the whole team, focussing everyone on the future.
If you go to the expo alone you only see things one way. Going with team members with different skill sets and experience opens opportunities. You might walk past or dismiss something but a team mate might see the opportunities.
Spending the day together seeing and talking about innovation and technology builds bonds between team members. You have a shared experience. And one that keeps giving long after the show. It gets your team more invested in the business. Especially if their opinion is being heard and implemented.
And lastly, it’s more fun with people to talk to. As much as there is exciting stuff to see at these events they can also be dull in parts. So it’s good to share.
If you’re planning a visit to a trade show such as EMEX in the future, here are a few tips from our team.
Although it’s not big compared to international expos, there’s still a fair bit to see (and there are many distractions and ‘toys’ that can eat up your time if you’re not careful.) If you’re going to the show to research particular equipment or expertise then mark out your route in advance. Download a floorplan and highlight your must stop stands. That way you’ll be sure to cover off what you planned (then you can look at the ‘toys’ later)
With multiple sets of legs, you can divide and conquer. Split up and scout out the stands of most interest. Then get back together and share your intel. That way no one misses out on any of the good stuff.
We had a great debrief in the car on the way back to Tauranga, but you may prefer a nice cold Ale at a nearby pub. Make sure you get the most out of your day by capturing any actions and learnings. That’s best to do while it’s fresh in your mind.
And one last tip - bring your own food! One criticism of the event would be the food. It wasn’t that great, it was pretty pricey and there were long queues. We reckon next time we’re going to pack our own lunch.