Business Management

How to succeed in small business without sacrificing your personal life

Caroline Burk

Updated: Apr 16, 2024 · 6 min read

Michael Hyatt had achieved success in his career like he’d never known. He was the CEO of a multi-million dollar publishing company, exceeding the goals he’d always dreamed of reaching, but things were less than ideal.

The day Michael returned home with a bonus check that left him speechless, his wife sat him down to tell him things needed to change. He was working 80-hour weeks, and while his success was incredible, it didn’t change the fact that his family needed him.

This conversation snapped Michael back to reality, and he started making some serious life changes. As he did, he realized the success he and so many other professionals and entrepreneurs had been chasing was one-sided. They were either winning at work and neglecting their personal lives or vice versa.

Can you relate? If you feel like you can’t have both — success in work and in your personal life — Michael Hyatt’s advice is exactly what you need. Michael recently sat down with Keap CEO Clate Mask to share actionable steps small business owners can take to experience true success — the kind that doesn’t require sacrificing time with loved ones or giving up on your entrepreneurial dreams.

In this article, we’ll go over Michael’s strategies — and it all starts with the double win.

The double win

Michael Hyatt left his successful career in publishing to start Full Focus, a company dedicated to helping small business owners and leaders scale in a healthy way so they can succeed without suffering.

An essential part of the Full Focus philosophy is the double win, which he defines as winning at work and simultaneously succeeding in life. This concept is the core of the framework Michael and his team use to help entrepreneurs every day.

Many business owners know they want to succeed in all areas of life, but without a solid growth framework, they might find themselves forced to choose between two less-than-ideal options:

Option 1: Throw yourself into your career and miss out on the relationships and moments that mean the most to you

Option 2: Take a huge step back in your career and give up on your business goals

It’s likely neither of these choices align with the dream you had in mind when you started your business. These options weren’t Michael’s dream either. “I put myself on this quest to find a third option, where I could win at work and succeed at life, “ Michael explains.

The third option

Michael’s alternative option snowballed into a framework that he started using in his own life. It helped him scale his new business without sacrificing time with his wife and kids, vacations, and big life moments he’d missed before.

Michael now shares the framework with his clients, and we’re passing it along to you. The following steps are part of Michael’s philosophy and the Full Focus Task Filter.

1. Resist the temptation to believe your situation is temporary

As your business scales, it may seem like things keep flying at you — opportunities, events, new goals, team changes and so much more. These are good things, and they’re signs of a growing business. The problem is many small business owners fall into the trap of believing that the constant influx of new projects and tasks is temporary.

But Michael emphasizes to all his clients that this is not a temporary phenomenon, and it’s too risky to go on believing that it is.

“Entrepreneurs, we have this ability to deceive ourselves and sort of jump from one temporary situation to another temporary situation” Michael explains. “And before long, what looked like it was temporary has become permanent, and it's our trajectory. It's not going to lead us to a good end.”

This cycle keeps business owners trapped and robs them of any opportunity for a balanced life. The solution? Reject the lie. Instead, accept that things are busy and start developing a different approach so you can take a step back but still keep your business moving forward.

2. Realize that not all work is created equal

Once you’ve stopped buying into the lie, Michael suggests taking inventory of everything you currently have on your plate. To do this, make a list of all your tasks, and then place them into categories:

  • Passion (things you enjoy doing)
  • Proficiency (things you’re good at)
  • Both (things you enjoy and you’re good at)
  • Neither (things you dread doing altogether)

The result of this exercise, Michael explains, is that you will start to “recognize that not all work is created equal. Some work drives our business and our lives forward. Some work is just sideways energy that doesn't really accomplish anything, and some work actually drags us back.”

The “both” and “neither” categories reveal which work does what, and they make up what Michael calls the desire zone and the drudgery zone. The desire zone (“both” category) consists of the tasks that drive you and your business forward, and the drudgery zone (“neither” category) is made up of tasks that drag you back.

Pay special attention to these zones because they hold the key to creating a balanced life, and you’ll need them for the third step.

3. Eliminate, automate, delegate

This final step is where you’ll take action and create a solid plan. Start by taking a look at your desire zone from the previous step. Are you happy with this list? Are you able to complete these tasks with passion and proficiency? If yes, then you’re in the right spot, and it’s time to deal with the drudgery zone. You most likely dread doing any of the tasks on this list, but luckily, with Michael’s framework, you won’t have to.

Michael states that the drudgery items are the ones that take up most of your time and hold you back from your most productive work. That’s why his advice is to get rid of them, and you can do that one of three ways:

  • Eliminate the tasks that are outdated and no longer needed in your business processes.
  • Automate repetitive tasks that don’t need to be done by a human. Automation and small business CRM software will be your best friend for this phase.
  • Delegate tasks that do need a human touch, but don’t necessarily need your touch. You can save a lot of time by entrusting these tasks to members of your team.

When you’re used to being constantly busy and bogged down with an endless to-do list, it can be difficult to pass things off to other team members or to small business automation software. But it’s a crucial step on the path to freedom, and “if you’re going to scale, you have to learn this… because business is a team sport,” Michael emphasizes.

A helping hand to get you going

The sooner you get started with Michael’s framework, the sooner you can scale your business and succeed in your personal life — all at the same time.

However, there comes a point in Michael’s plan, where you’ll need small business automation’s help. This software will enable you to eliminate repetitive tasks on your drudgery list, which will give you more free time each day (in fact, Keap customers save an average of 10 hours per week). Business automation can also unleash other benefits, including increased lead volume, more revenue and a better customer experience.

Automation and small business CRM software can unlock endless potential for your business, and they’re something Michael Hyatt suggests to all his clients. If you’re feeling inspired by the idea of the double-win, dive into the details of business automation and learn how it can help you.

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