Small business owners have more responsibilities and tasks coming at them than anyone can possibly take on in a day’s time. You have to set priorities around what is going to get done. Managing your time and slotting things into blocks on your calendar is one way to handle it. However, if you’re not managing your energy at the same time, you’re on a path that ends in burnout.
A Gallup article on employee burnout found that how people experience their workload has a stronger influence on burnout than hours worked. This applies to leaders as much as employees, and we’re often pushing ourselves the hardest. If you are constantly spending time in work that drains you, you can’t stay focused on your vision. Your company growth stalls and you are the constraint holding it back from greater success. It’s unsustainable over time and it will also cost you personally in terms of your physical and emotional health and your relationships.
What is ROE?
Not everybody talks about or is even familiar with the Return on Energy (ROE) concept. I want small business owners in particular to understand the impact they have when they focus on the work that energizes them. I call it your Masterpiece Work™, where you make the highest contribution to your company and the world. Small business owners have so many plates to spin. It's important that you’re able to recharge, maintain your health and be at your best in order to lead well. That’s only possible when you learn how to do the things that only you can do in your business and start releasing other tasks to your team.
I discovered one of my drains years ago—creating content. I would handwrite my weekly newsletter, type it up and edit it myself before handing it off to my virtual assistant who kept track of the email system. I would do anything and everything to avoid those articles as we approached deadlines. Fortunately, I was forced to recognize and confront this issue during a retreat exercise where we identified what we needed to get done in our business and what was getting in the way of it. Developing content was getting in my way and I had to stop trying to do it all. Marketing and thought leadership were important functions, but not critical to serve my clients and keep my business going. Nine months later, a friend of mine shared a process that still works great for me to this day. I have a virtual team that captures my content through an interview process and turns it into blog posts, newsletters and LinkedIn messaging.
Strategies to increase your ROE
An energizer is a task, activity or role that motivates, rewards and excites you. I have three strategies to help you lean into your energizers to increase your ROE.
- Look at your definition of work. Your definition of work shapes what you believe you can let go of and whether or not you’re allowed to enjoy the work you do. This is an area where working with a coach can be really helpful, because sometimes you’re not even aware of the messages you’ve picked up and held onto over a lifetime. If you believe hard work has to be drudgery all the time or it’s not work, you’re not giving yourself permission to lean into the work you enjoy. Return on Energy is about finding joy and motivation in your work.
- Trust your team to accomplish the work. Not every task is going into your ROE bucket. You have to hand some things off. My executive assistant describes three categories of tasks in business when she onboards new clients—things that you love to do and you’re fired up to do because that's why you started your business, things you don’t love to do but it’s necessary for you to be the one doing them, and then the things you hate to do. She wants her clients to always have their hands in the first category items, what I would have my clients put in their ROE bucket. The third category is where she comes in to take the tasks they hate, the ones draining them, off their hands. Whatever your team looks like, whether it’s made up of employees or contract workers, they’re likely going to do the tasks that you hand off much better than you! If you feel like you need help in this area, check out my recent blog on finding the right experts for the stage and size of your business.
- Strive for 80 percent energizers and 20 percent drains. I wish the goal was 100 percent energizers, but that's not realistic. I spent a year presenting to professional organizations in my state and nationally on ROE. I had participants take a close look at the work they were doing, complete an energy audit and report back on how much of their time they were spending in their energizers versus their drains. No one was above 50 percent in their energizers. The majority were at or below 20 percent. It breaks my heart. So many people are out there trying to stay motivated, or even just plugged in at all, in work that drains them. They really believe they just have to suck it up and keep going. It's unsustainable.
The Inflection Point Hub
Knowing where you need to be focused in your business and where you need help is no small task. With the right people in your corner, you can explore your own leadership, work through challenges and implement the necessary systems to reach your future goals. The Inflection Point Hub is a group of small, but mighty, businesses owners positioned for intentional growth. Jeff Heyer-Jones, president of SparkEvolve, and I are building this peer advisory community to bring those small business owners together. If you’re looking for a community where you can find support and inspiration, The Inflection Point Hub is for you. In addition to being part of this cohort of like-minded people, you’ll also have access to curated experts and other resources.
This could be your year to have a defining moment, an inflection point, that significantly changes the trajectory and progress of your business. Apply today to start your cohort as early as February 28, 2023!