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The 5 things business owners should be giving up for Lent

6 min read

19 February 2015

Former editor

Whether it is alcohol or chocolate, this time of year always brings about a period of abstinence for people up and down the country. But what about business owners and the things they could probably do without?

Lent is a time when, religious or not, we try and give up things which are either bad for us or we could do without. The event, dubbed as a religious Movember in a recent Guardian article, has become rather commercialised. However, for a little fun, Real Business has come up with some options for company owners. We speak with hundreds of business leaders a year and these are the themes we are constantly presented with.

Checking emails all hours of the day

It’s something we all do, whether a business owner or not. Smartphones, tablets and laptops make it very hard to ever feel completely detached from the digital world, but we should at least try. Scrolling through your inbox as you go to bed is only going to give you a sleepless night – you can’t do much fire fighting at that time. Granted, customers and the sort do expect businesses to respond faster and faster these days, but creating an out of hours framework would help.

Rather than a little and often, business owners should maybe consider setting aside half an hour when at home in the evenings to check that nothing catastrophic has happened. Try turning your phone off (shock horror) or putting it in another room as you sleep.

Attempting to do everything

It is hard as a business grows for its founder to take a step back and allow others, that they’ve hired, to step up and take responsibility. A business owner that micro manages every aspect of their company will very quickly be deserted by the very people they’d brought on board to help grow.

As tempting as it is to have your say on every sales pitch or marketing document, there’s a pretty good chance that they are better at that part of the business than you. The 40 days of Lent is a great period of time to show that the company will not fall apart without the owner’s input on all aspects.

Reluctance to take holidays

Following on from the need to micro manage and constantly stay in touch with emails, business owners often feel guilty if they dare to take even a couple of days holiday. It is hard in the early stages when everyone is working 18 hour days and anxious to stay ahead of the competition.

But a few days, or even a week off, away from the business can provide some clarity and perspective on what has been done before. Returning to your company refreshed and energised can be a great way to then ramp up growth and tackle new challenges. But that does not mean a week beside the pool with laptop and phone in hand.

Read more about bad habits:

Thinking about the past rather than future

While always tempting to pore over financials from previous quarters, surely a better use of time is working out future gains. There are lessons to be learnt from analysing part performance, but you can’t change them so make sure that isn’t where the majority of your time goes.

Instead of starting a board meeting or departmental catch up with a look at last quarter, perhaps use Lent to begin by focusing on what the company will be brining in during the coming weeks and months. Don’t dwell on previous mistakes and performance, it will only drag a workforce down.

Reacting emotionally rather than calculated

If it’s your company, or you’re at the top of the tree, it is quite natural for most responses or reactions to be emotionally-driven. After all it is your skin in the game and the buck stops with you, but is it ever useful to be tempestuous? Taking a few extra seconds or minutes to think more carefully about decisions will result in a better one and greater staff engagement.

Use Lent to think of things from an investors, staff member or customers point of view. Theirs are calculated views because they have either invested time or money, rather than blood, guts and soul.

If you agree or disagree with any of the suggestions we’ve made, or have some alternatives yourself, please let us know in the comment box below.