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THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow
  • Chris Barrow

Working so hard that you forget how to rest


October has established itself as the busiest month in my working calendar (and, it seems, that of many of my friends and clients who run their own businesses).

My new business, Coach Barrow, launched on 1st September, the new web site on 19th September and since then my support team and I have been thrilled with the level of interest in what we do and simultaneously daunted at the challenge of fitting everything in.

Our new business made a profit in month #1 and the prognosis is good for the months ahead but Phillippa is sending me shouty emails (they’re the ones typed IN CAPITALS) to say that I have to be careful what I say “yes” to in consideration of our overall diary management.

Of course, it’s always a danger to say that in public because:

  1. it tempts fate and

  2. it sounds a bit cocky and

  3. it sounds as if you are too busy to take new business enquiries, leading potential new clients to question whether to make contact

I don’t do myself any favours by having time of my life on Facebook and other social channels, further leading the observer to conclude that I’m all over the place and, therefore, too busy.

I was chatting to a client this week about the dangers of “over-trading” – a term to describe what happens when a business (or a consultant) takes on more work than they have the time and resources to deliver.

Many moons ago I accused a client’s accountant of that malaise and he was so outraged that he threatened legal proceedings (even though it was blatantly obvious that he was committing exactly the offence suggested).

One of the benefits of being truly a one-man band who delivers his work face to face is that it’s hard to overtrade as there are only so many hours in the day for client meetings.

Some consultants try to solve this problem in a variety of ways:

  1. creating bigger audiences (workshops and mastermind groups) to leverage time and money across more people

  2. creating e-commerce sites populated with downloads, audio and video

  3. taking on associate consultants

and yet few of these initiatives, if any, last the course.

I’ve tried them all (as many of you know) and, after years of periodic misery and frustration, have ended up back where I started, delivering my calling one client at a time, face to face – and loving it.

I’m not over-trading, the clients will tell you that my work gets done in a timely fashion – I’m simply having a blast and sharing it.

I’ll never make a fortune but I will make a living and have a life, except in October.

What is it about October?

  1. potential clients back from their summer holidays and realising that they have problems that need solving?

  2. dental trade shows, conferences and dinners?

  3. the end of the calendar year approaching?

  4. the nights beginning to draw in and the weather getting colder?

Yet again, I’m right in the middle of it all and, this weekend, enjoying 2 rare consecutive days at home (with a half-marathon thrown in tomorrow morning).

I’m looking at another 5 weeks of this full-on stuff until we take a cottage holiday in Northumberland and I can get off the grid and plan to sleep, rest, read, walk, eat, drink and sleep some more.

Having worked so hard for what seems like weeks on end, I’m struggling today to slow down and do nothing.

I sit down on the sofa with my current novel (Ancillary Sword – Ann Leckie – part #2 of a mind-expanding scifi trilogy), read a chapter and then pop up and wander around the house looking for things to do, which have so far included:

  1. clearing up all the domestic paper that arrived last week

  2. cleaning the hard drive on my MacBook

  3. two loads of laundry (ironing will be tomorrow watching Episode 3 of The Fall)

  4. looking at Apple Watches online (I know, I know – I don’t need one)

  5. clearing the dog crap out of the back garden

  6. two dishwasher loads of pots and pans

  7. a trip to Sainsbo’s to pick up some toiletries

  8. writing this blog

I think I’d better go and have a nap – early dinner with visiting friends later.

Or should I hoover the Bunker?