Steve Scott, M2R managing director, is forthright about how the self-employed should prioritise their lives. "Self-employed people can be distracted, and go off to wash the car or cut the grass, but you have to see the wealth-creating activity as more important," he argues. "You always tackle the wealth-creating activity first, and then you can pay a gardener to cut the grass."
At M2R, management consultant David Broad works with top managers who work long hours. But when he asks how many of those hours are productive, they bemoan the amount of time spent fire-fighting or answering 200 e-mails a day. "In the early days of a business you need to put the hours in to make it work, but you also need to analyse the quantity and quality of what you do in the day. If you're not performing, go home and spend time with the family instead." Life outside work helps to boost motivation, he argues, and boost productivity too.
Yet small businesses have an advantage over those top managers, Broad argues, and not only because they are highly motivated. "Managers have to motivate their staff, while very small businesses often just have to motivate themselves," he points out. "Going on a course or networking helps you to find a group of people who are all speaking your language, and can help enormously."
Networking can help to direct your motivation towards properly defined goals, and - as the Chartered Institute of Personal Development points out - help you generate more business too. "Keep in touch with other businesses and how they've managed to keep things fresh and meet their targets," counsels Jason Oakley of the Royal Bank of Scotland. "Exchanging views can inspire new ideas that apply to your business and may be proven winners."