Self-Care for your Business and for your Career
I attended a one-day conference this past weekend that was all about self-care. “Self-care is not selfish,” was host Deb Crowe’s mantra, and she proceeded to fill the day with inspiring talks from various women who had been through some hardship in their life, how they overcame it and how self-care helped get them to where they are today.
As I participated – with my #LeanIn t-shirt on and proud banner, promoting the launch of Lean In Calgary that is to come in 2019 – I was amazed, inspired and awed by the vulnerability of the women who spoke – Sarah O’Halloran, one of my amazing Lean In volunteers, Linda Lindsay – an everyday Mom with a powerful story that could happen to any one of us at the turn of a dime, and Christa Geddes – creator of The Beam – a physio tool that supports back and spinal health.
All these women talked about the importance of taking care of YOU so that you can better serve others and go on to live long and healthy lives.
For those of you who have been following me for a while, you know that the message of work/life balance and taking time to take care of yourself is not new to me. However, the reminders never get old as we women, in particular, tend to keep driving, keep pushing and keep giving so we can squeeze even more productivity out of our everyday.
This got me thinking about the health of our businesses. Do you practice #self-care in your business? How about for your career? Do you ever sit back, rise above the day-to-day and take time out to evaluate and nurture your business and career health?
What even is business or career health?
Let’s take a look.
Business or career self-care looks like nurturing its growth, its strategic direction and its learning. It looks like ensuring you are giving it the nutrients it needs to flourish, such as quality resources, new ideas and fresh inspiration. It looks like understanding where you are taking your business or career and purposefully feeding it with the knowledge it needs to grow in that direction.
I’ll be honest, for the first 12 years of my business I did not do this – somehow, being strategic about building my career was more obvious. The stepping stones were more clearly laid out for me.
When I launched my self-employed business operation in 2003, I considered myself to have had more of a freelancer mentality, or a “gun for hire” as they say as I was running my communications consultancy as more of a flexible job; exchanging service for pay.
Who is your ideal target audience?
But in 2014, when I trained as Leadership Coach, I changed the model of my business and started spending more time considering my ideal target audience, who I was trying to reach, who would be best served by my business services and how I wanted to serve them. I started creating products, services and packages that I could sell, vs. creating a custom solution for each one of my corporate or not-for-profit communication clients that was essentially created around an exchange of time for money.
Design an online strategy
I also started taking conscious time to design an online strategy, developed and nurtured my brand, purposely marketed my services to audiences I thought might like to hear what I had to say and might be interested in buying what I had to sell. I spent time researching productivity tools to save me time (and consequently money) in my business so I could be more efficient with my accounting, time management, billing and administrative tasks. I outsourced tasks I didn’t love and wasn’t very good at, so I could focus on what I was good at and enJOY my business every more.
I attended conferences and signed up for courses that would strategically augment my skill and growth in certain areas to position me in front of the people and organizations who had the potential to bring me to the next level, and I knew what that next level might be for me and for my business.
Curiously, many people do this almost unconsciously as they build a career. The corporate climb makes it almost easy as it’s often a linear approach of climbing – up – with lateral moves also being positioned as an “up” of sorts as these kinds of apparent sideways moves tend to build skills in different areas so you can move “up” before too long.
This activity of looking after your business health can be referred to as “CEO Time.”
Are you acting like the CEO in your business or are you the hard worker, with your head down, delivering services, with no sense of where you are going as an organization – albeit perhaps a small one?
When you think of a CEO, or those leaders you look up to and respect, do they have a messy desk or a tidy one? Are they crazily trying to do everything in their organization or do they delegate with purpose while inspiring and championing the “why” of the organization? The CEO’s job is to know where the organization is going and to lead the organization’s people and resources with that big picture in mind.
Here are some ways you can act like a CEO in your business and give your business a little love this Valentine’s Day:
1. Look at the Big Picture
When was the last time you paused and took a look at where your business is right now, in this moment, and where you want it to go? What are you doing all this for? What is your “why” of your business? As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
And if you find you have strayed off that path of knowing or working for your why, take some time out to do that very soon. This is the core reason your business exists – if you don’t know what that is, you will continue to spin your proverbial wheels and not see the success you are looking for.
2. Be Strategic in your Decisions
One of my newest clients works in innovation with businesses. I so enjoyed our first session as she adamantly talked about if you aren’t prioritizing, you’re not being strategic. Being strategic means evaluating options and choosing the best one to move forward with right now.
Are you being strategic in your business?
Strategically build your skill
If you haven’t made any choices in your business lately, or you’re not sure where your business is going, I invite you to take some time out this Valentine’s Day to inspect the heart of your organization – which is probably you – and see if you are going in the direction you want to go.
And then make some choices.
Here are some questions to help you along that journey:
Why did you go into business in the first place?
What or who do you most care about serving in your business?
What are your strategic business priorities for the coming year? (What is the work that will bring you the most joy or the most revenue or maybe both?)
If you haven’t yet sat down to figure this out, now is the time. What are the strategic (and this means choosing) priorities you need to focus on in your business to help you grow? For more inspiration here about how to define these strategic priorities, check out my blog post from January, https://susanelford.com/looking-back-can-help-you-leap-forward/ for some planning tips.
3. Work to Your Strengths
Show me a CEO who is doing all their minutia tasks late into the night and I’ll show you a CEO who is going to wake up tired and not able to deliver their best the next day. What things in your business do you love to do, and what things do you really despise? What do you put off that needs to be done, and what can you happily delegate or hire-out?
Outsource tasks you don’t love
If you don’t love to do some of your “have-to-do” tasks, or you know someone who could do better, hire that task out! Here are some tasks that even the smallest business can consider hiring out.
iii. Formatting documents
iv. Templating worksheets
v. Arranging meetings
vi. Implementing strategy
vii. Developing a marketing plan
viii. Managing social media
ix. Updating your website
x. Creating blog posts
I challenge you to be the CEO your business needs! Take some CEO time this week. Ten percent is a great goal. If you work 40 hours a week, take 4 hours to #betheCEO – work ON your business, not IN your business for four hours a week and see how it takes off.
Need some ideas to #Accelerate your business to the next level? I’m now taking applications for my next #Mastermind. Join us on March 5, 2019, as we launch the Spring Edition of the Accelerate! Mastermind. Now taking applications for those business owners who have started their business but need a leg up to keep going, get strategic and build their business to be the success they know it can be.
To your success, in business, and in life,