Reaching higher levels of business success typically means making a lot of sacrifices to get there. If you’re like most small business owners, you know what it is like to give up time spent relaxing with family and friends because you’re putting in 10, 12, and 16 hour days. You also understand what it feels like to give up a little bit of your sanity as you wade through the emotional currents and tides that come with owning your own business.
One minute you’re extremely happy you’re self-employed, enjoying all of the benefits of being on your own and the next you find yourself online, staring at the job board of another local company wondering if it would be easier to just go to a “job,” come home, and live a somewhat normal life. It’s like the life has been sucked out of you and you’re trying to remember the last time you actually had fun while you were at work.
Fortunately, work and fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive, as there are many things you can do to reach your small business goals and enjoy yourself at the same time. In fact, Robert W. Bly, successful copywriter and one of the leaders in his industry, has published a number of them in his book 87 Secrets of Outrageous Business Success: How to Reach Your Goals and Have Fun Doing It.
This can’t-put-it-down memoir of sorts is a compilation of a number of Bly’s top pieces of advice that he sends out in twice-weekly emails to his subscribers. For instance, in it he suggests that making work more fun (or fun again, whichever the case may be) requires that “you should take pains to make yourself as comfortable at work as you can possibly be.” For him, this means sitting in front of a window with a nice view, keeping cold drinks and snacks accessible, and listening to music he enjoys. He also keeps his office at 68 degrees, his “optimum temperature for productivity.”
Intrigued and wanting to know more about how this man was still happy doing what he loved after 33 years, a position I hope I am in with 33 years in, I reached out to him and he kindly agreed to an email interview. This is what he revealed, which I am passing on to you, as well as the lessons I take from each of his responses:
Q: What do you do to keep your passion for your career alive?
A: “The secret is I only do the one thing I love to do, which is writing. Although I am often asked to do other things, like coaching, I do not accept, because the work does not appeal to me.”
Takeaway – If you want to enjoy a long career that makes you smile, then you need to stick to doing things that make you happy. Just as important, you also need to turn down the things that don’t.
Q: We all go through slumps from time to time, so what are some signs that signify to you that you’re not loving your work as much as you should and that it’s time for a change?
A: “In my case I go through a slump about once every 7 years but I ride it out and within a few months it lifts. Doing something new or different though can accelerate recovery from a slump. For me, taking a writing class can help.”
Takeaway – For starters, it helps to recognize your natural patterns so you can tell when you’re in a slump that will go away on its own or not. Also, if you are feeling like you’re not loving your work like you should, doing something different may help pull you out of it. This could mean signing up for a seminar or taking a class related to your industry to reignite the passion you once had. Or you could also do something not related to work at all, like painting, hiking, or anything else you are passionate about.
Q: In your 33 years as a self-employed freelance copywriter, what is the most common thing you see your clients or colleagues doing that removes the joy from their work?
A: “Some colleagues have an adversarial relationship with clients which is absurd – the client pays the bills, and without clients, you would be out of business.”
Takeaway – While you can’t always pick your clients, depending on what type of small business you own, the better your relationship with them, the happier you will likely be. Michael Sneddon, CEO of MultiLing suggests that you can improve your client relationships by providing them with quality goods and services, keeping your commitments, communicating, being flexible, and developing a partnership in which you both gain benefits from the relationship.
Q: What one change do you think small business owners could make that could drastically help them improve the quality of their work life?
A: “Have multiple streams of income. Do not rely on just one service or profit center for 100% of your income.”
Takeaway – By setting yourself up financially, bringing in revenue a few different ways, you won’t feel pigeonholed into doing things that result in lower levels of joy. You’ll have options and options are good.
Q: What advice do you have for small business owners looking to reach their professional goals in a way that allows them to have some fun along the way?
A: “The 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time doing the work that makes you money and allows you to live well. Spend 20% of your time doing things purely for fun without regard to what they pay if anything.”
Takeaway – While you certainly want to make a good living with your small business, you also have to take time for fun things too. Think about the activities that bring you the most joy and make it a point to put them in your day, regardless of how much money they do or do not bring.
Q: Anything else that I have not asked you that you would like to share?
A: “I could think of a ton – too much to write out here. But here’s one: if you want to be successful, find out what works for you and others in your business, and do more of it. And do less of what doesn’t work.”
Takeaway – This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Figure out your own passions and style and stay true to them. That is where true success lies.
Good advice Mr. Bly. Good advice.
To learn more about Robert W. Bly, visit his website at www.bly.com. Also, to receive email notifications when articles like this are published, helping your small business grow, don’t forget to subscribe to Businessing Magazine.