The Glimpse

Today I am taking it easy. It’s Sunday after all. Sundays are meant for this. In the background plays a song by Sam Smith, very easy listening. It could be Lionel Richie. Easy like Sunday morning.

Except it’s the afternoon, and most of the day is over for me already.

Things are incredibly stressful in work at times. I have a lot of juggling to continue doing in the near future, but, broadly speaking, I think I am starting to see a better balance of life ahead of me. My new employee on my business, while taking up a lot of time, and 80% of the income that comes in, is starting to work. I think. This is freeing up my time during the day in the office to look after the things that can only be done during the day… reacting to my business customers, and also dealing with the other business I’m involved in.

So right now I’m getting a glimpse of what my life might become… where I might start to make advances in getting my free time back. Maybe within a few months I will be able to look forward to having Sundays entirely to myself every week. Instead of them being seen by me as a great opportunity to catch up on the work I haven’t completed during the week. Because then the work just never stops.

The irony is that I spent this morning doing exactly that. I still got up at 5:50am, which most people would think is a bit weird for a Sunday. But when I wake up, and I’ve had enough sleep, then I get up. Why waste any time when there’s so much to do? Plus when you get up at 5am during the week, why upset that rhythm too much?

In any event, I did well. So now I have an excuse for procrastinating a bit, which includes what I’m doing now.

But maybe in a few months time I’ll actually start to feel like I can do something sociable? Maybe I will also be more secure in my incomes than I am now. Maybe by then I’ll have had all of the money I’ve lent to my businesses and a colleague back. Who knows. Probably not, but I can dream.

A tantalising look at the future. To most people, what I describe is probably not even relateable. Most people are used to having every weekend off. Every evening off. To me, having spent the last couple of years with no weekends, no evenings, just the merest possibility of having some actual free time – and having something to do in it – is a real excitement.

What a life.

Employees

Life is changing a lot at the moment. It’s becoming more difficult – even when I thought it couldn’t – because the challenge it’s bringing is different.

Having people work for me is quite a difficult adjustment to make. For years, as a self-employed person, I have been so used to generating work for me and then doing it. This has progressed for a long time that it is just normal and I don’t want to try anything else.

But the difficult phases of both my businesses are now hitting. They both need to grow, but they cannot grow without more people. More people means bigger costs, costs which don’t appear to be sustainable right now. One presumes that those more people, though, will build the business infrastructure such that it can cope with more work, and get more sales. So perhaps the costs are sustainable after all? Indeed, might they actually result in a bigger profit?

These are the questions I have been toying with for over a year, but only now are they actually coming into reality. Despite all of the financial analysis, it still comes down to a gut feeling. Do I do this or not?

I have decided that I must. I cannot live my life as it is now. It is non-stop and never-ending pressure with no fun. I knew all this anyway, but with the co-incidence of another business also generating the same stress, this really isn’t a life.

I decided that, even if every pound I spend on the employee is, in essence, wasted, it would still, in a reasonable year, allow me to live. OK, it would be an existence. But it would be better than I had now, for it would give me back some of my sanity and some of my ostensible leisure time.

I ended up taking the plunge with a 16 year old for the summer. Ultimately, I had to get rid of him. I don’t remember being such a baby at that age. Maybe I was mature for my age. But he was phenomenally immature. It was only meant to be for the summer anyway, a bit of a test to see how I’d get on with an apprentice. But it was like baby sitting, and he had no desire to impress me. I’m pretty sure when I started my first job at 16 I was shitting myself thinking I wasn’t up to the task, so I set about making sure I concentrated and worked hard. He did neither, mostly spinning in his chair and looking thoroughly bored.

The privileges of middle-class youth, I reckon.

Anyway, I very carefully extracted him from the job earlier than anticipated so as not to offend him or his parents too much. He has been replaced by someone I have known from the internet for over 10 years. Weird? Probably yes. But I knew no one else I could take a risk on.

So far it’s working out. I hope it continues to do so, and actually starts to generate further profits.

Meanwhile, on the other business, our first tentative steps into outsourcing and employment – which failed miserably last year – are now beginning to bear fruit. We are starting to build up a great team… but one I wish could be more secure and more “full time” – if we had some initial capital. I’m sure that if I had £50k to just cashflow it for a year, it would reap three times that in dividends afterwards. But that’s a big risk to take for someone who doesn’t even have that…

It’s an exciting and challenging time. The difficulty, though, comes from adjusting. Adjusting to not feeling bad about telling someone to do something, in as kind and engaging way as I can, which I don’t want to do, or really ought to delegate so that I can concentrate on something more important, more fitting of a director.

That adjustment in my life is interesting. I have always been a do-er, not a delegate-r. I always felt delegation was shirking, but now I see it from the other side of the fence. I must delegate to do the things that only I can do. Our nice office lady can’t do the technical bits I do. I can certainly do her job, but she can’t do mine. So I pay her to do the things I don’t want to do. It works. I understand better now.

I just need to make it work more. And I just hope I’m not a lousy boss.