Editor’s Note: Ah, movie day. Come inside and cool off at the Courtenay Museum today when we show the last movie in the Chew On This Film Series, “The World According to Monsanto.”
This amazing film takes a frank look at bio-engineering and its effect on the global food system and I encourage you to come by at 2 p.m. for the showing. It may just change your perspective. There is the big car show downtown. So, parking will be tricky with 4th, 5th and 6th closed off. But, don’t let that discourage you.
Speaking of perspective altering, I’ve had a professional epiphany and thought I’d share:)
It’s completely lovely and the monster in the closet for me.
I love to create, to share, to be a part of the community in a way that serves.
There might be a “but” to follow. I don’t want there to be one.
One of the great pieces of business advice that I’ve received over and over again from amazing entrepreneurial women – and entirely ingnored – was “understand the value of your time and enforce it with other people.”
I had my reasons to run the other direction from outstanding advice – at least I thought so:
- I had to prove myself as a business woman
- I believed that the value, at some point, would magically be realized by clients
- I felt guilty asking people to take a chance on me
- I was super excited about everything and wanted to do it all
- Humility is one of those qualities I really try to foster to keep my A-Type tendencies in check
- I figured it was all about time management and there is never a minute left in my day to which management potential could apply
I would cling to that rationale whenever the topic came up. Even when I was so exhausted, stressed and over-extended when another project came up to take on, those things offered a perspective where I could rationalize saying yes and keep going…at least for a while.
A few months back, a community business woman and friend that I deeply respect sat me down for a talk.
“Robin, you need to stop giving the cow away with the milk,” she told me.
I already knew that one of my shortcomings is that I am TERRIBLE at asking people for money and it shook me a bit to realize that other people – with whom I’d never had the “I suck at this” chat – thought it was enough of a concern to sit me down about.
I heard her, but still kept trekking along.
Then, about a month ago, Ken sat me down and had me do a time invoice for a project that I played a key role in developing and implementing – and was the only person on the project who worked for free.
The result of that invoice shifted my paradigm dramatically and I realized, for the first time, that my time was indeed rather valuable.
I heard the litany of moments when people had tried to back me up, help me refocus, ringing in my head.
When people say “We gave way too much away in the beginning” I now totally get it.
When you undervalue yourself, people in turn undervalue you.
So, how do we take charge of our own value (personal or professional), stay true to the community-building values that resonate so deeply and not, frankly, feel like an ass in the process?
I’m no small business genius. But, if you are stressing, exhausted, throwing your hands up a lot more often or feeling cheated out of family time because of work, here are a few questions that have made an incredible difference in how I view a life of entrepreneurial balance:
1. What would you bill someone by the hour for a project you’ve agreed to take on? While there are circumstances that affect a project price, do a time invoice BEFORE you negotiate a contract and AFTER the project is over. You may never share this with a client. But, it helps you evaluate your billable contribution to a project and the value-added factor.
2. From that exercise, I learned that not understanding the value of your time, you often pursue opportunities that are very cool on the surface, but ultimately don’t make sense for your business. Understanding the value of your time helps you become more focused and filter new opportunities that make business as well as personal sense.
3. Undervaluing your time in the beginning means that you can financially undercut your ability to build a successful business. Once there is a price-based expectation, the investment of time to renegotiate business releationships and potential client loss is stressful at best.
4. Understanding your time investment in each portion of your business (bookkeeping, paperwork, client relationships, sales, etc) helps you see where investment in staff or tools will make the biggest difference. It also helps you understand where you need to back up. Do you need to de-fan a bunch of Facebook pages and stop following 400 people on Twitter and Flickr? Do you need to say “I’d love to join your group, but that time investment isn’t one that makes sense to my business and family right now.” I find myself doing that a lot lately.
5. Finally, knowing how much time you commit to everything, you are better able to set limits that give you more space for better work-home balance. I actually did a time invoice for the house too and understanding how much time I put into things like cleaning, shopping, etc., helps me say “That can wait until tomorrow” or “Whatever gets done in 30 minutes is what gets done.”
Am I a pro at managing my time or understanding my own value – uh, no.
But, I am now – much to Ken’s delight – much more committed to a path of valuing each aspect of my life and finding balance through reality checks.
Some day, I might even be good at it:)
Have a great Sunday.