Mar 252014


Build a business while holding a day job

I received a beautiful e-mail from a reader who is building her business this week. She described her vision for her  business which was so clear and inspiring. She also spoke of her struggle to find the energy to build a business while holding a day job.

She’s not alone. So many of you want to build a business building a business while still holding a full-time job. You need the job to pay the bills, and yet the job is killing all the energy you have to build a business that will set you free. The less you work on your business the more days, months and even years you have to spend in your full time job. It’s catch-22.

I wanted to share with you a few strategies to help you create more time and energy to build a business that will set you free

1. Use your best time for your business

When are you at your most focused, productive and creative? Is it early morning, lunchtime or afternoon? Or perhaps you’re a night owl.

How are you currently spending this time? Most people who are at their best in the morning spend it checking e-mails. Those who are at their best in the evening spend it watching TV. This is a huge a waste of brain power. This time needs to be spent on your most creative and challenging work if you want to make the most of your abilities.

So instead of waiting till the end of the day to work on your business, find out when you’re at your best and work on your business then.

A friend of mine wrote an entire PHD using this tactic. He would wake up an hour earlier and spend that hour writing. Within a year his PHD was complete. Did I mention that he has 2 kids and runs a global, award-winning business? He does.

If you can’t possibly wake up earlier than you do, could you negotiate a later start at work? If you peak at lunchtime, how about spending half of that time working on your business?

2. Get into the right frame of mind

If you’re a night owl, and your best time IS after work consider getting into the right mindset before you start work by using some of the following tips.

–       Leave your favourite tasks right till the end of your workday.

Working on something you enjoy gives you a sense of satisfaction and boosts your energy. Leaving work in this state will make it easier to work on your business when you get home.

–       Think of 5 things you’re proud of having accomplished that day.

This is a great way to give you a boost of confidence and energy. Do this on your journey home. Besides making you feel good, this strategy will also stop you from ruminating from all the things that went wrong during the day, which is a complete energy sucker.

–       Spend 10 minutes meditating when you get home.

Meditation has been shown to improve depression, reduce stress and even increase creativity. Read a good article about this here. Take 10 minutes to meditate before working on your business and you will be rewarded with more energy, clarity, creativity and focus.

3. Use micro-actions

This tactic is so brilliant it deserves (and will have) a whole post dedicated to it. In the meantime here’s a quick summary of what it is and how it helps.

Usually the biggest barrier to getting something done is starting it. The enormity of the task is off-putting and so you keep avoiding it.

Consider telling yourself you will only work on a particular task for 10 minutes. That’s all. Sit down and start, with the intention of stopping in 10 minutes’ time.

After 10 minutes, you can decide whether you wish to stop or keep going. It’s OK to stop if you feel like stopping. Do this every day and by the end of the week you’ll still have at least a whole focused hour that you’ve spent working on your business.

Chances are you’ll find that you’ve spent more than 10 minutes each day on your task. Once you’ve broken the ‘starting’ barrier it’s easier to get into flow. For this tactic to work, don’t punish yourself for actually stopping after 10 minutes. Instead celebrate that you’ve spent 10 more minutes building your business.

To make the most of this tactic make sure you have a clear idea of the task you want to work on and the action you will take before you start.

4. Create a habit

Habits are extremely powerful in that once they’re formed you tend to do them on autopilot. While it takes time and practice to create a habit, once a habit is formed you’ve literally hit a home run. You’ll have no more resistance to doing the habit. It becomes as easy as making that hot brew in the morning (which by the way is another habit).

Regardless of which strategy you choose, work on making it a habit.

Try to create one habit at a time. Less is definitely more when it comes to this. Do too much at once and you’ll get overwhelmed and give up.

A great piece of advice from Leo Babauta of zenhabits is this: Don’t miss two straight days. Leo suggests that if you do miss a day, treat it as “emergency status”. Let all sorts of alarm bells ring in your head and make sure you practice the habit the next day. You can read the full article here.

So there you are, 6 practical tactics you can use to help you find the energy to build a business while holding a day job. Which one will you choose? What other strategies have worked for you? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Here’s to making a living AND a difference doing what you love

photo credit: kern.justin via photopin cc

Mar 182014

Freedom Business


“I would never want my own business” he said,  “it would take over my life.” I was in the middle of a conversation with a retired man who hadn’t particularly loved his job. Sadly he spent 40 years doing that same job assuming there was no better option.

The word ‘business’ clearly meant a traditional bricks and mortar business for him, which is not surprising given that for most of his lifetime, these were the businesses he encountered.

Today technology has opened up a parallel universe to the traditional business world we know giving many more people the opportunity to make a living doing what they love. There isn’t one common term that yet exists for the type of business I’m talking about, so I’m going to call it a Freedom Business.

A Freedom Business does what it says on the tin. It allows you to make a living without feeling like it’s taking over your life. It gives you both the freedom and the fulfilment that you crave.

So here are the qualities of a Freedom Business:

1. The business is aligned with your values and strengths

“Do work you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” quipped advised the sage Confucious. This lies at the heart of a freedom business. When your business honours your values and plays to your natural strengths it satisfies the very core of who you are. Work becomes fulfilling and fun. Suddenly your Mondays become a source of excitement. Read this post to start discovering your values and strengths.

2. Low startup costs

A freedom business does not require a huge investment to get started. No premises or large amounts of stock need to be bought. No expensive website needs to be designed. A self-hosted wordpress site, using a free or paid for template is all you need to get your ‘shop’ ready for the world. Chris Guillebeau’s ‘The $100 Startup’ is a great book on the subject.

 3. Low fixed costs

Your business does not incur huge monthly expenses to run. Freelancers replace your full-time employees, your office space is the local cafe or co-working space and every $ you spend gets you a huge amount of value. You don’t start each month worrying if you’ll make enough to cover the costs. Most of the income of your sales is revenue.

 4. You don’t only exchange time for money.

Avoid creating a business that solely depends on you exchanging your time for revenue. Besides limiting the growth of your business, as you get busier you may be tempted to work through holidays and weekends. That’s not why you started your Freedom Business.

Note the word ‘only’ in this sentence. As a coach and workshop facilitator I still exchange a lot of my time for money. I wouldn’t have it any other way – these are the elements of my work that being me huge satisfaction and it might be the same for you. Just make sure that part of your strategy involves revenue generating streams that don’t depend on your investment of time. Anything from online self-study courses, to books and affiliate products can help you grow your business without taking up more of your time.

5. You love the clients you work with

Seth Godin refers to this as your tribe. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve had to hide a part of yourself at work then a Freedom Business will feel very refreshing. In your business you get to choose your clients, and if you choose clients who share your values and your way of looking at the world, your business will allow you to be exactly who you are as you offer your services to the world.


What do you think? What would other qualities of a Freedom Business be?

Mar 062014

What a yoga class taught me about starting a new business

As I was twisted like a giant pretzel, trying to stretch one arm around my knee and behind my shoulder I realised my mind was having a complete meltdown.

The realisation was instigated by our yoga instructor, Ivan, as he encouraged us to become aware of what was going on in our mind while he did the move. He made it look so easy too with his lean muscly body clad in baggy red pants and a sleeveless white t-shirt. The green bandana around his head combined with a thick beard completed the look of our young yoga master.

“This is way too difficult!” I thought. “How the hell am I supposed to do this, I’m the worst student in this class. This really isn’t for me. I want to stop NOW!”

Catching my mind in the middle of its tantrum and observing what was going on in a detached way was quite surreal. It occurred to me that these were the exact feelings I, and many of my clients, had gone through when first starting a business.


Starting a new business: First comes the excitement

The excitement and the trepidation at the start of the class was a toned down version of how I felt the day I announced my plans to friends and family. Everything is new, everything is exciting. You’re nervous because you don’t know what to expect but it’s a good kind of nervous.

….. and then the reality check

Twenty minutes into the class, as the initial excitement died and the moves got harder things got a little bit tricky. The realisation that this wasn’t going to be easy, felt just as unwelcome and scary as when I had the same realisation at the start of my self-employed life. Ok maybe I’m being a little melodramatic here but there was definitely that moment of “Oh crap, this is tough!”

……. followed by a crappy time

Then came the doubt, the loss of confidence, the temptation to give up and run. Run away to a safe corner that is familiar and easy. This is the toughest stage of making any change in our lives -be it learning a new skill, starting a business or anything else that gets us to leave our safe world of familiarity. I know it will happen, I expect it, I prepare for it but it always hits me like a ton of bricks. Having Ivan remind us to “observe it, don’t get caught up in it” as it happened, helped me resist the urge to run and instead reach deep down to a place of determination and strength.

And then you push through

It was this strength that I knew I had in me that pushed me forward, urging me to keep going, telling me I could do this. And when I thought this was as far as I could go, Ivan came and pushed me deeper into my stretch, taking me further than I thought was possible.

That’s when I got into flow. That beautiful rhythm where the mind goes still, time vanishes and all that exists in the world is the challenge you’re about to conquer.

Know this, whenever you reach that point, you will have grown.

It’s worth it in the end

Lying on my mat, resting and relaxing after the class reminded me of the evenings I go to bed weary but elated at all I have achieved. Knowing then, that pushing through the pain, keeping going when you want to give up, is ultimately what makes it feel worthwhile.

So if you ever wonder what it would be like to start a business, go take a class. Practice anything that is new, that will stretch you a little. Notice what you go through during the class. Notice how your mind reacts to the tough bits. When do you feel like giving up? How do you will yourself to push forward and keep going? How does it feel at the end?

Become aware of all that goes on in your head, as this is exactly what you will go through when starting your own business. After all,

“How you do anything, is how you do everything”


Share your thoughts

What stage are you in your business right now? What are the challenges you’re grappling with right now?