What have I learnt from week 1?

As most of you will know by now, I'm in the middle of a 17 day road-trip to test my theory that I can work anywhere.

I have a remote team, we all work with our clients remotely, so presumably as long as I have an internet connection then I can work from wherever I want.

The theory is good and in practice it has proved to be true ... with my 3 options for connecting to the internet I have been able to do my work and have my client Skype calls without any problems.

So what have I learnt from week 1 if things seem to have gone so smoothly?

My two key learnings came quite early on. 

I've spent a lot of time travelling around and have found the amount of time it takes to pitch and de-pitch (is that a word??) as well as the travelling time is eating into my working time more than I anticipated.  I've been camper all my life so I should have known how long these things take but until you put it into context I guess you don't realise how it will affect things.  

Consequently I'm doing much less work than normal and I'm fitting in more 4Networking meetings and 121 catch-up meetings.  I'm trying to do a little bit of sight-seeing on my way round but so far have really only managed 1.5 days.

I'm actually quite exhausted and I've learnt that if I do this again I need to plan to stay in less places for longer, maybe only move on every 5-7 days so I have time to see a place and get some work done.

The second thing I learnt is that in order to get time to do more touristy things I need to be more structured in my diary and be more systemised.  As many of you will know, I am maybe more system and process orientated than a lot of people but to properly make this work I need more.  I need to have more specific slots in my diary so that when I'm travelling I know the times I definitely need to be hooked up to the internet for client calls, for example.  And I need to have more automation and/or VA support so that things will still happen, even if I'm stuck in a traffic jam.

This stuff is really all about enabling work/life balance so it applies to everyone who doesn't want to be managed by their business.  It's what I talk about all the time but again, until put into context I didn't realise how much more structure I needed to make this lifestyle work.  At home I'm sat at my desk all day so it hasn't really dawned on my that if I wasn't, the structure I have isn't enough.

So if you want to continue to follow my journey for the next week go to www.facebook.com/OfficeFixerNoFixedAbode/.

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I'm about to test my dream

I'm sure when you started your business you had a dream of how life would be and how your business would contribute to that.

Common ambitions when starting out include:

  • having more time to spend with your family
  • having more flexibility to work when you wanted, ie. shorter days to do the school run or longer holidays when the kids are off school
  • earning more money because the boss wasn't taking the biggest cut

Unfortunately for many people the reality is quite different and they end up spending more time at work, ladened down with responsibility and earning a fraction of what they earn't as an employee.

I'm sure you've heard people say that a dream isn't a goal unless it's got dates and actions attached to it.  In other words, you can't just have a dream bubble floating above your head like the cartoon characters, you actually need to work out what you're going to do to make it happen.

I have to admit to being someone who has gone round in circles a bit in this regard as I didn't have any firm ambition or direction, but through trial and error I did end up a couple of years ago getting much clearer on what I wanted and consequently I've been able to make some strategic business decisions to make that happen ... and the test is in 2 weeks time!!

b2ap3_thumbnail_Sindy-Compressed.jpg15 years ago I went on a 3 month tour of Western Europe in a motorhome and ever since I've wanted to be in a position that I could do that again but I didn't have any firm plans of how that was going to happen.

3 years ago we bought a motorhome so I felt like I was a good way towards the goal but in reality it has been an expensive ornament on the drive rather than my tool for travelling more.  

I realised that to be able to have longer periods of travel I needed to be able to work from anywhere and whilst a large part of my business enabled that, I had got more reliant on a consultancy service that required me to go to my customer's premises, so I needed to refocus my business and think through the logistics a bit more.

Consequently over the last 18 months I have ensured that:

  • I don't have an office
  • I have a remote team
  • I'm not central to doing the customer work so I have flexibility of time
  • My business model is such that the work I do can be done from anywhere

So in just under 2 weeks I'm off to test the dream ... I am going on a 17 day road trip.  

Now I know that doesn't sound like a very long time travelling but this the first test.  It's not a holiday, I will still be working - I will be meeting up with business friends and attending a number of 4Networking meetings around the country, as well as doing my day-to-day tasks and quite a bit of driving!  

The real test is whether I can get the flexibility to mix business with pleasure:

  • technically will I be able to work from anywhere (will the wifi booster and 4G Dongle be enough to keep me connected everywhere?) 
  • will I get the time to explore some of the places I'm going to visit as a tourist whilst still having enough time to get my work done?

You will be able to keep track of my progress on a special Facebook page set-up to keep a blog diary (as long as I can get online!).

So my question to you ... is your dream just a bubble floating above your head or do you have a plan to make it happen?  Better still, have you succeeded in making it happen?  I'd love to hear from you.

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Are you living to work or working to live?

Spring has sprung this weekend with days of glorious sunshine (unusually for a bank holiday) and if you’re like me, the warm lighter days give you a brighter feeling.

If you’ve missed the sunshine this weekend because you’ve had to work to keep on top of things, you might be (should be) considering what you can do to reduce your working hours and actually enjoy life.

Remember – we should be working to live, not living to work.

In his book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’ Tim Ferris talks about taking mini-retirements through-out life rather than building up the main event after you’ve slogged yourself to death for the best part of your life, but to do this you need to have your business working for you, not the other way round.

Here are 5 steps that will help you take control of your business:

1)      Define your goal

What is your dream? What do you want to do with your life?  If you don’t know what you’re aiming for you will never be able to plan to achieve it.  This might sound basic but so many people aren’t clear on what they really want and even if they do have a general idea they probably don’t have the detail of exactly what it looks like and the 3 or 4 key things they need to achieve to make it happen.

2)      Elimination

Now you know what you want to achieve you can start to stop doing the things that aren’t going to help you achieve it.  Our time is often spent doing things that other people have deemed to be important.  Take a step back and work out what needs to be done to achieve your goal.

3)      Processorise

Not everything can be eliminated completely but many can be automated or given to someone else to do, but in order to do that successfully you need to be clear what the processes and procedures are in your business – create your ‘How To’ guide for your business.

4)      Automate

When you know what the process is you can automate some of the tasks, ensuring they happen whether or not you are there to do them.

5)      Delegate

Once you have the processes defined and those tasks that can be automated have been, you can look to get help with the remaining tasks that shouldn’t be taking up your time.  Whether you have in-house staff that you’re not utilising effectively or you look to use outsourced suppliers, this step is key to making your business work for you, not you for it.

If you need help with any of this, or want to chat through a specific issue you’re struggling with in your office/business, take a look at www.theofficefixer.org.uk or give me a call on 01484 885485.



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