“I wish I had more time.” Each of us utters this at some point in our lives.
This is a question I’ve asked myself many times since starting Entegral. Running a business is time-consuming, and when you fund it yourself, it can drain your energy and pull you into a routine of working late hours.
But we entrepreneurs in general are optimists: We push through and feel invincible once we gain traction. The motivational force of working less one day to start enjoying the fruits of our labour drives us, the pain is temporary.
The problem is, we can get stuck on a treadmill. At some point, you have to realize that you are moving but not going anywhere. The irony is, since moving to Knysna in 2019, I find myself having more free time than ever before. It’s a weird feeling, as running the company has pretty much taken up all my time over the years. What happened?
Time is a remarkable teacher and I believe that as we grow older, we start to find what we are looking for, one way or another. Looking back now, certain things have helped me to slowly unlock more time.
1. Change your location
Location, location, location! The 3 most important buzzwords in real estate. There is a lot to do around the sleepy little town of Knysna, so it forces you to draw a line and take time out to visit the beach or forest before or after work. Where you live can have a dramatic impact on your lifestyle and forces you to re-evaluate the hours put in vs productivity relationship. None of the bumper-to-bumper Johannesburg city traffic brings extra sanity.
If you feel a bit stuck in a location that doesn’t inspire you, and have the opportunity to make a move to a different area or even country, go for it! A new adventure awaits and it will rewire your brain for the good. Some love the buzz of the city and others may love the seaside, whatever it is, make sure it talks to your heart and encourages you to do the things you want to do once your work day starts or finishes.
At this point you may say “But you have it lucky, you work remotely…I’m stuck in an office”. To that I say, the internet is your oyster, you need to evolve and learn new things to empower you.
The seed was planted in San Francisco in 2012, working from my laptop, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. I felt inspired and realised I could work from anywhere, I just required a good internet connection!
The story of how we took Entegral from an office-bound operation to a remote workforce with people in 6 countries can only be justified in a separate blog post. Long story short, we started working remotely in 2015 and haven’t looked back, even though a lot of people shot the idea down at the time (much like many other ideas in my life were shot down). Embrace risk, find your special tribe, cut out the noise of people telling you otherwise and make it work. That’s why when my co-worker Mari asked me how I would feel if she moves to Italy with an opportunity with her family, I didn’t have a single doubt “Go!”.
Know that some things are perfected with a lot of trial and error before you can reach that mental freedom, this includes working remotely.
2. Change the rules of work
I keep my calendar open. Busyness is doom. Are you a slave to your clients? As an entrepreneur, you have the choice to pick your clients. It’s not always possible when you start the business, but as you grow, you need to put rules in place to protect your mental sanity and choose the people you want to do business with.
You do this by getting the right message out about your product and more importantly, your company: who is it that will love using your products and that you’d like to work with?
You need to set rules that protect your (and your teams’) personal time at all costs. Don’t get your day run by someone else’s diary or feel obligated to say yes to every demand from a client. Saying ‘yes’ to one thing means saying ‘no’ to an important milestone on your company roadmap. This is the best way to fall into a pit of mediocrity and become a people pleaser.
The same applies to employing people in your company. If things don’t work that well, you cannot blame that employee, after all, the one pointing the finger appointed them. Are you trying to fill worker seats or are you attracting your tribe, people who can add harmony to the rest of the team?
At Entegral we’ve set our ideal clients as real estate entrepreneurs who are forwarding thinking, open to change, have full control over their decisions and businesses, willing to take risks and see the value tech can bring to their business. We don’t like to work with companies that are controlled by corporate dogma and dictate how we should run things. We connect well with companies who see mutually beneficial long-term relationships and not one-sided “I pay the bill so you answer to me” attitudes. This is also one reason I’ve stayed clear from any external investment: freedom and independence are invaluable, it is empowering.
Being independent also allows you to structure your business in innovative ways. We don’t employ salespeople, don’t run expensive campaigns and don’t have offices. Instead, we reinvest everything we have back into the business to build rock-solid products. Not having to worry about things breaking provides peace of mind not only for us but also for our clients. This is an ongoing journey with a tech landscape that is changing at an exponential pace.
There is a butterfly effect with all the little changes you make. By making these changes I regained a lot of free time and with that, more focus to do better work. Today, I feel like Entegral still has that startup feel and I feel excited about where we are going.
The best things still require time and patience, something my dad taught me. When we have no time for ourselves, distractions keep us busy, we procrastinate and we lose our spark. If you are at this point in your business or career, it is time to implement change. You need to look past the noise and find your signal.
So you’re beaten up
But you bounce back
It’s all part of the pull
And the story runs
Like a soundtrack
We repeat ’til we’re full