How you doing? Good week? Tough week? Slow week? Busy week?
Glad it’s the weekend?
I’ve been thinking a lot about capacity. Our capacity to give. Our capacity to love. Our capacity to serve. Our capacity to thrive.
Is it about creating more space, more time, or more simplicity to make room for more of the good stuff in our lives?
I phoned my sister yesterday afternoon to check in with her.
She is a temporary foster parent. She takes in kids at the drop of a hat. Sometimes one, sometimes two…but this week it’s 4 children. All under the aged of 8.
“How do you do it?” I said.
I have one child and I am in awe of people who have multiple children.
But I know my sister is great at structure and routine, it’s why she is so good at what she does, and why children always leave her care in a much better way than they arrive.
She just has the incredible capacity to do what they need, not always what they want….and she does that consistently, and with love.
So how does this translate into business?
Well you know when you start out in business and you think “ah I just need to get a couple of clients” and you do. |It feels great for a bit because you have hit the ground running. But you always underestimate how difficult they are to acquire in the first place, how much energy they take, and how little you are actually left with after you take out expenses, tax and all that jazz.
So you can either charge more or get more clients right?
You put your prices up a bit, you get more organised, you get a bit more savvy, you stop over-delivering, you tighten up your boundaries….and it works for a bit.
You make more money, you make more impact…you love working with your clients, but you get to a point where the capacity issues raise their ugly head again.
You want to take a holiday, your car breaks down, the kid gets ill, the dog gets run over…there isn’t a lot of give, so you sleep less, you work harder, you take on clients that perhaps were not such a good fit.
It will get easier you think.
You dream of the day where you feel like you are really making a difference…to clients lives, but also to your own. The first few years can be tough…but also so can the years where you plateau.
Sometimes you have to stop and admit things are not working.
There gets to a point where you just can not grow your business simply by working any harder…there literally is nowhere left to go using the 121 model, or any model really that trades your time for money.
Even if you are paid handsomely for in-person delivery to larger groups, or are highly paid for consultancy, there are still only so many days on the road one person can take, how many contacts you can juggle at one time.
The term “work smarter… not harder” originated in the 1930’s. Allen F. Morgenstern, an industrial engineer, the creator of the work simplification program, coined the term where the intent was to increase the ability of people to produce more with less effort.
Little did he know that technology and in particular the internet would come along and take this principle off the factory floor and into the busy laptop lives of so many solopreneurs.
I spent most of my working life juggling multiple priorities. I had proper jobs working for local government, and I had contracts with major cultural organisations…sometimes at the same time.
I have never been work shy.
While on summer break from university I worked all day at a playscheme, and all night in a pub, with a one hour nap in between jobs and a heap of diet coke to keep me going.
A few years later while saving for the deposit for my first home, I worked all day for a local authority running an award winning volunteer service, and then worked a couple of nights a week, and many weekends in Southend on an arts regeneration programme.
But I’m not in my late teens early twenties anymore…AND I have a pretty demanding 7 year old who likes to see me from time to time.
- I don’t want to work all the hours god sent
- I don’t want to reach an earning ceiling based on how much I can cram into my week.
- I don’t want to be limited in terms of how many clients I can impact
- I don’t want to turn round at 50 and realise I haven’t made enough provision for my future
And that is why I decided 6 years ago when I was returning from redundancy and becoming a parent…that 121 work or traditional consultancy could not going to make up the bulk of my work.
I was going to find a way of multiplying my impact and therefore income and minimising my effort, and looking back that was the best decision I ever made.
Working one to many is all about creating space for simultaneous transformation…it requires creative thinking, empathy and robust ethics. It is not about stack em high and sell em any old crap, it can still 100% be about serving your clients to the highest degree…so they get what they want AND what they need.
In a world where we have all experienced just being part of someone elses drive for financial success, buying products or services that simply don’t work…over promised and underdelivered…it doesn’t have to be that way.
So when you get to the point where you simply can’t grow anymore, because you can not work any harder. Take a breath. Rethink your model. And if taking your expertise to the masses is part of the plan. Let’s speak.
I have spent the past 20 years designing, managing and delivering group programmes. It’s not hard when you know-how.
So I invite you to think about the impact you could have if you stopped working so damn hard.
What do you need to make space for, when it comes to having more capacity to deliver bigger impact.
Have a great weekend.