“I’m Too Busy” – the Entrepreneurs’ Mantra

Posted by The Icehouse on 1/11/2022 10:00:00 AM

Ask any business owner how they are, and the most common response will be, “Oh, busy”. Consciously or otherwise, “being busy” is all in a day’s work for many entrepreneurs. After all, aren’t long hours and grindingly frustrating days part and parcel of growing a successful business?

Problems occur when owners start confusing being busy with being productive, a substitute for doing more meaningful work, and where working 12-hour days and multitasking are mistaken for being efficient.

Im Too Busy_Blog

If you’re busy answering 50 emails or hosting three meetings each morning then something’s going wrong. Various studies estimate that approximately 40% of owners admit that they spend time doing things that are not important to the well-running of the business. Much of the remaining 60% probably aren’t aware there’s a problem in the first place.

At The Icehouse we know that ‘business busyness’ doesn’t equate to success. “I’m too busy” is something we hear a lot – particularly when it comes to committing to the Owner Manager Programme. The owner is so busy putting off investing in themselves that they don’t realise how they’re punishing themselves, and the business they are working so hard to grow.

“That's exactly why you should be doing the Owner Manager Programme (OMP),” says Liz Wotherspoon, Chief Executive of The Icehouse. “If you're wearing busy, like a badge of honour, or using it as an excuse not to do something, it's exactly why you should do it.

“The fact is that you will never have time, but often what we experience with owners is that once they do get in the room, they realise that they're spending their time doing low value-adding things, things that if they could figure out how to resource the business better or differently, or they could work out how to delegate effectively and efficiently, would give them more time and opportunities to work on higher value-adding things.”

Making the decision to upskill or invest in yourself is the building block for change. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made [doing OMP], but it nearly didn’t happen because at the time I was thinking I was too busy to take time away from the business,” says Andrew Young, Design Manager at Parallax and OMP alumni.

Robin McDonnell, CEO at Phantom Billstickers and another OMP alumni, did find the time, but it took a while to get there. “I had my eye on the programme for a couple of years and had been too busy to take the leap… It seems simple, when you have been doing it for 20 years, you just know it inside out, and you intuitively know the answer to every problem. It is easy to get tied up and get captured by that.

“[OMP has been] critical to our success, I have stopped trying to do everything. Relying on the good people around me to take care of the patch.”

It sounds daunting, taking time out of the business. ‘Who is going to fill in when I’m not around?’, ‘My team isn’t capable’, ‘No one knows what I know’.

So when is the right time? As stated above, there is never a perfect time. We understand, we hear “I’m too busy” a lot and we realise it’s a barrier to growth, but if you want to invest in your future, want the business to go in the direction you want it to go, you need to invest in yourself personally. If you were offered a life filled with health, wealth, happiness and fulfilment, would you say you were ‘too busy’?

“An OMP applicant once told me that it was about ‘timing’ and that they needed to ‘find the right time’ to complete OMP,” says Anthony Gold, former Customer Growth Partner at The Icehouse.

“I simply responded with; ‘when was the last time you placed yourself first?’ You mortgaged your house to pay your staff’s wages, you missed your kid’s birthday to fill in for one of your managers, you kept the lights on and food on the table for your staff and their families when the lockdowns started.

“So when are you going to place yourself first and your growth needs? If not now, when? Because the only bottleneck to your next-level growth is not capital, not staff, not logistics, it’s your growth mindset. They booked the next available OMP, signed up with an Icehouse coach, and changed their accountant. And they never looked back.”

The short and long-term rewards of participating in something like OMP outstrips the false economy of ‘busy’ many times over. You’ll become more strategic about how you spend your time, and fine-tuning that strategy, whether it’s through training and upskilling, technology, or something else, will see better results.

For information on programmes, workshops and business coaching services from The Icehouse, click here.

For more business ownership and leadership advice, check out more of our resources.

Icehouse Alumni? For exclusive content on Icehouse Central, register now.