A number of weeks ago you would have found me sitting in my camper van, tea in hand (naturally) interviewing via zoom our newest member of the team. At the time I remember feeling rather smug that my holiday hadn’t inconvenienced the search for our latest new team member. That feeling of smugness only lasted until my business coach went one better and ran our coaching call from a villa in Corsica. Now, whilst I would love to keep up with the ‘business Jones’s and drive my camper van over to the continent. I’m not sure whether my wife or I could cope with the heat and lack of air conditioning in our van!
What is Freedom and Flexibility for a Business Owner?
I digress somewhat. When I initially set up JVCA it was for both freedom and flexibility. Flexibility is being able to work from anywhere. Or even choose which hours you work. However, freedom is not having to work. For example, when I decided to interview from my camper van I was utilising my hard-fought flexibility. If I actually had true freedom I would have been able to delegate this task to one of my team. I.e. not run the interview in the first place. Sadly, JVCA is not quite yet at the size for me to delegate the whole of the recruitment process to my trusted team.
I’m still working on growing JVCA so it is big enough to have the capacity for me to actually have both freedom AND flexibility in how I run my business affairs. This desire for freedom and flexibility is something that I see in our own clients. Very often they have built up their business so that they have flexibility in their working lives. Whether it is being able to work from a nice villa on the continent. Or attend all their children’s sports days and concerts. But the thing is, the work still needs to get done. The 40 (or more) hour working weeks are still happening. The only difference is the working hours are not squeezed into the 8 to 6 that my job normally entails.
6 Tips to Build Freedom and Flexibility into your Business
The question is then, how do you get both flexibility and freedom with your business? Here are some of my thoughts on this topic. Be aware that I am still working hard myself to get to this point in my own business!
1. Create and work towards a business plan for freedom and flexibility
If you are going to gain that freedom it means growing to a point where you have people to do the work for you. Growth once you get past 1 or 2 employees normally is tough. You will be juggling cash flow, profitability, and capacity. This is why having and working towards a business plan is key. As a business, we have always progressed the fastest and most sustainably when we have been held accountable to implement a business plan.
2. Learn to delegate
This sounds easy. But isn’t always that easy. Particularly if, like many of our clients, you run a business where you are a highly skilled technical expert who isn’t easily replaced. I know I have been guilty of drinking my own Cool Aid in the past. You know, believing my own hype that I am the only person who can work on this client’s affairs.
3. Outsource the non-core tasks
Your business doesn’t need to do everything in-house. In fact, we’ve accelerated our growth and capacity by outsourcing non-core tasks. For example, help with our marketing. An easy task to outsource to us – which can take lots of your time – is your bookkeeping. Not only that but bookkeeping is often prone to errors if carried out by an unqualified person.
4. Learn to let go
You are never going to be able to get that utopia of freedom and flexibility unless you learn to let go and trust others to do the work for you. This ability to trust doesn’t happen overnight. It starts by learning to delegate and then building up a strong team beneath you.
5. Create a leadership team around you
In my humble opinion freedom doesn’t really come as a business owner until you have created a strong leadership team. A team who can run the business without you if required.
6. Streamline your business for freedom and flexibility
When we do some analysis on our clients’ businesses we often find that 20% of the work is responsible for 80% of the profits of the business. Sometimes working with an external expert (hint… we can help) will help you spot the opportunity to get a greater reward for less effort. When your business needs less effort to make more profit this is where freedom starts to be possible.