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Business Owners Lifestyle: Enjoy lifestyle ripples with "Pondchange"

Seachange. The word alone inspires images of tranquil locations and relaxed lifestyle. Where the only deadlines are those that dangle from fishing rods. Seachange. You can almost hear your soul sigh.

Over the last ten years many people have uprooted and started again in a coastal town, by a river or in the bush. Lured by the lifestyle, often suffering from burnout.

For most business owners a seachange isn't a consideration. We love the work we do. We work hard to establish the business. Work even harder to grow or sustain it. The sense of achievement and pride that our business gives us is priceless. Besides, most of us like where we live and our network of friends and family.

But it's a well known fact that most business owners struggle to find time to enjoy anything outside their business. You fall into a work pattern of long hours that leads to a poor life balance. It's a business paradox that your passionate commitment to the business you love, often starts to destroy your actual enjoyment of the business. The idea of lifestyle is a lifeline that seems frustratingly out of reach.

So we'd like to float the idea of a pondchange.

You don't have to move your family away from where you've built your business and life. You don't have to make drastic changes to your business and you don't have to sell it sooner than you really want to.

To get a balance lifestyle you don't need a major physical shift but you do need to make a significant mind shift.

The starting point is to confront yourself with the question: Do you really want to have lifestyle balance? We see many business owners express a desire for lifestyle balance and then continue to behave in a self-defeating way.

Two business owners that were determined to enjoy lifestyle balance and did something about it are Penny Spencer and John Lambert.

Penny Spencer is the owner - founder of Spencer Travel, a multi-million dollar corporate travel agency. Three years ago she became very clear about her desire to have a family and be around for her children. This triggered a series of changes in the business including better systemisation, better resourcing and delegation of responsibilities.

With careful planning and implementation Penny was able stay at home with her baby and now only works 4 days a week. Meanwhile business growth and profits have continued to fly.

"To be able to enjoy my time with my family and know that my business is running smoothly has created an enormous amount of calm in my life. It is worth working hard to make your lifestyle changes happen. It may take more time, effort and planning but to be able to have a balance in your life and enjoy your business is what I am sure most of us initially went into business to achieve. I do not think about the business when I am with my daughter, therefore being able to focus on her. Spending time away from my business makes me a more focused, happy and balanced person to be around - not only for my family but my staff as well. All of which creates happy staff and a healthy business." Says Penny.

John Lambert of Technical Focus had more modest aspirations.

"I just wanted to be able take a holiday - without the business keeling over and without feeling like I had to ring the office every couple of hours".

John had a staff of ten, "It seemed the more people I employed, the more work I ended up with". He also found that if he stopped 'knocking on doors', to feed the extra staff, business slowed.

Again more discipline and focus in the business proved the key for John being able to make the transition to having more lifestyle balance. One of the most important steps for John was increasing the level of visibility around performance data so he knew exactly the state of play in the business at any given time. It also empowered team members to manage their own performance better.

John admits that he is only in the early stages of transition but still he is already seeing the benefits. Recently he took a relaxing 3-week holiday in the UK. On his return the business was in such good shape, he's already planning his next holiday!

"Yes, to have 3 weeks to travel around the world whilst Technical Focus still churned away was a massive milestone in my business life. The real irony was that we achieved a record month!....." says John.

While the motivation of these clients was improving their lifestyle, the changes they were implementing created direct benefits for their business. They ended up with a business more productive, less reliant on the owner, more valuable and more sellable.

Most importantly, with a better lifestyle balance, the owners have a renewed energy in, and appreciation of their business. There are indirect benefits too.

The immediate one is that an owner that is committed to maintaining their own lifestyle balance is more likely to appreciate their staff have similar needs. It's a self-perpetuating benefit because the happier your staff are, the more productivity and profit benefits they are likely to create.

When you drop a lifestyle focus into your business, the ripple effect spreads benefits beyond you and your family, throughout your staff and onto the welcoming shores of the wider community.

Pondchange?.. is that a sigh I hear?

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