Today’s blog was inspired by a LinkedIn post from Hannah Gzik, showcasing one of the Build a Kick Ass Company’s free downloadable posters. The poster is in the image I’ve used to illustrate this blog.
Part of my comment on the LinkedIn post reads “In our neighbourhood there are lots of squirrels, rabbits, and the occasional owl and coyote keeping the other critters on high alert. Both literally and figuratively speaking.”
And it’s true.
Many people think that being an entrepreneur is all about getting processes in place and being able to accurately predict your cashflows, in other words, getting all of your ducks in a row. While it’s true that processes can help you save time and be more efficient, and that understanding your businesses cashflow is critical for long term success, there is a LOT about running your own business that is more like a wild rave of squirrels than a nice row of ducks.
When you’re a solo-preneur like me, there are many things competing for your attention, from replying to client emails and phone calls, to creating content, writing proposals, providing services and completing more mundane, yet necessary tasks such as sending invoices and engaging in outreach with current and potential clients.
Some of these tasks are like squirrels; they grab your attention, and you feel like you have to attend to them immediately. Answering clients’ emails and phone calls for example. Then a new squirrel will pop up, such as a recurring client requesting a proposal for a new training series, or strategic partners requesting a meeting to brainstorm a new long-term venture. Some tasks are like rabbits, they nibble away at your time, like creating content and posting it on social media.
And sometimes, an owl silently swoops in, causing you to completely change your plan for the day. For example, a family member needs to visit your local hospital’s emergency room. Even if all you have to do is drop them off and then pick them up to drive them home again, it can completely disrupt your plans for the day. Worrying about a family member’s health makes it difficult to concentrate on writing a proposal for new training!
Sometimes the unexpected is more like a coyote, and the disruption caused is because, like a trickster, a new client’s potential project morphs into something completely unexpected. Requiring either a complete overhaul of the planned services, or a graceful exit from the project.
I’m grateful that I literally live in a rural neighbourhood, with mature trees, brush, and a variety of plants and wildlife. I’m also grateful that I enjoy the benefits of working with a diverse network of skilled and knowledgeable strategic partners, coaches, mentors, and colleagues. They help me figure out how to pivot when things don’t go as expected, and regularly point out opportunities that I may not have recognized on my own.
So, what can you learn from this post?
As an entrepreneur, it’s a great idea to try and get at least some ducks in a row (business processes and cash flow), however, it’s also necessary to expect the rave of squirrels (competing demands), set aside time and resources for rabbits (necessary tasks like social media and sending invoices) and a good idea to expect the occasional owl and coyote (unexpected occurrences and project scope creep) while being prepared to pivot and adjust your plans.
Thanks again to Build a Kick Ass Company’s Hannah Gzik for the inspiration for this post! You can download a free version of the poster, and many other inspiring posters, at this link.