“I’m referring a colleague to you”, said the email, “he’s at the end of his rope – successful business but the owner is at the extreme end of overwhelm. Can you do anything for him”?
Twenty years ago, I sat in the local restaurant on a bright, beautiful Saturday morning with tears pouring down my face. At first I didn’t know why I was crying – and then I heard myself utter the words “I just can’t go on this way – I’m exhausted, I’m constantly stressed, I’m not sleeping well and I’m starting to hate my business”. Quietly, one of my friends went out to my car, grabbed my appointment book and checked my weekend schedule. Sure enough Saturday and Sunday were filled with appointments with clients who couldn’t see me during the week. She picked up the phone and cancelled or rescheduled every one of those appointments, and then came in to lead a “business intervention” – or an “Angela Rescue”.
Over the next few months, I created the business processes I was missing – boundaries to protect me. I set business hours – reasonable ones. I hired a manager to take a lot of the workload off my shoulders (and it wasn’t long before I hired a second one). I was scared stiff that I wouldn’t have the money to pay for this, but I did, because up until that point I was the plug in the system. We were “topped out” cash wise – even though we were a successful company – I had taken us to the ceiling, and I couldn’t run any faster hanging onto everything myself.
So, back to the email … the funny thing is that so many coaches focus on helping people to grow their businesses into “six and seven figures”. Me? Most of my clients come in because they’re praying their business doesn’t grow. They are disorganized and overwhelmed by the success they personally have generated. They’re making money (and, yes, often six figures – but rarely seven figures because that calls for structure) but sales are either flatlined, or rolling backwards as they become too tired to cope, or to make rational decisions.
“Of course I can help”, I replied. “Let’s set up a meeting to talk about it.” Nothing better than sharing the experience of someone who has been there … and knows the way out. So once again, a business rescue is underway. Not because of a cash crunch, but because of an owner crunch.
The good news? This guy (and everyone who has worked themselves into overwhelm) is going to make it … and probably make it bigger than he ever expected. Because the drive and focus that got him here is the same drive and focus – but channelled in the right direction – that will get him out.
Success is the goal … overwhelm is an option. When you start to hate your business, your clients, and the ringing phone, that’s a call to action … a call to putting the systems in place that make business a more enjoyable place to be … it’s about pulling the plug (which is YOU) out of the bottleneck and getting things flowing once again. And this is what we mean when we say “taking your business to the next level”.
Be careful what you wish for … “more money” may be the wrong answer.
If this inspires you, please take a minute to drop me a line and let me know. And don’t forget, there are lots of others out there who would love a little boost to their week … so please share. Together we can create an inspired community of C.E.O.’s.