Among the many hats I wear and plates I spin, I manage a building and the enterprise hub it houses. Over the past few months, we have been experiencing the joys of the rain (that has barely stopped for breath since September) inside the building as well as out.
When I started in the Hub almost six years ago, there was already a historic water ingress issue on the top landing, with water sometimes pouring from a light fitting above the stairwell. After several rounds of emergency patching – never build or buy a place with a flat roof if you can avoid it – the leaks appeared to be isolated to one corner and were much less prolific. The roofers said it wasn’t leaking anymore, but I could tell the wall wasn’t drying out.
Nothing was done for another couple of years until we had an electrician in who found water in the trunking for wiring and I asked the landlords again if we could get the roof sorted. Then after probably another year of asking for and endlessly chasing quotes, the biggest area of flat roof on the building was replaced last summer.
Finally we could feel secure and watertight. Finally we could get the stairwell redecorated.
We had scaffolding erected in the stairwell, we had the ceiling replastered, and the whole stairwell redecorated and the scaffolding went and it looked beautiful for a few days…
and then water started running down the stairs again.
It’s always on a weekend. This time it was a Sunday.
The last time I had the call on a weekend it was a Saturday, and it was water pouring into the lobby and turning ceiling tiles into mushy old weetabix.
There are also leaks in the corners of some of the windows, and the doors need replacing, and the lights on the top floor need replacing and it goes on.
So, what does this have to do with being an entrepreneur?
It’s about the vital importance of maintenance, of doing things proactively and not because we’re fire fighting an emergency.
In our health, both physical and mental, it’s about looking after ourselves when we feel good as well as when we feel crummy. It’s going to bed and getting enough sleep, being active in a regular and physically challenging way, drinking enough water and eating more than two food groups. It’s taking that five minutes at the start of the day to breathe mindfully and ten minutes at the end of the day to write a gratitude list. None of it is rocket science, but it does require a level of intentionality and commitment. It’s Adulting 101, creating a firm foundation from which to observe and interact with the rest of the world.
In our businesses, it’s about prioritisation and time blocking. We need to schedule what Stephen Covey called golden time to ensure that we are not losing track of our important-but-not-urgent tasks. He recommended that we have this golden time every week, if not every day. How many times have you lost two entire hours of a morning just wading through emails?
We must also be diligent in the areas Brad Sugars highlights when he talks about working on your business as opposed to working in your business. If we are fully booked with client work, we may feel very confident about the fact that our diaries are full. Or we may question when we’re going to able to do our finances, develop the next client relationship, develop a new product or benefit from some training?
What are you doing right now in your life that is an emergency patch job, and what are you doing that is proactive maintenance?