29 May 2020 By: Dan Kenitz
Not exactly the type of person you would expect to have a heart attack at 43.
Despite all his accomplishments, Figliuolo learned one important lesson: he wasn’t making time for his health. His business took over his priorities. His health went to the backburner.
The problem wasn’t that Figliuolo was weak-willed. He used to lead an Army platoon! And it wasn’t that he wasn’t educated on how to take care of his heart. He knew what to do about his cholesterol before the doctors told him.
It was that his business was taking over his life.
“For years, I justified the drive-thru burgers and lack of exercise by saying, ‘I’m too busy to eat right,’” said Figliuolo. He wasn’t able to even carve out 30 minutes in his day for himself. It nearly cost him his life.
You, too, need to create time for yourself.
And that starts by clocking out at 5. No exceptions.
Why Entrepreneurs Don’t Clock Out after Eight Hours of Work
As an entrepreneur, you’re in charge of the business. You get to decide if you clock out at five.
There. Problem solved, right? No need to read the rest of this post? If only it were that easy.
There are a few problems entrepreneurs run into:
- The inability to say “no.” Every entrepreneur remembers those early, hungry days. Days when they would take on clients for discounts just to get some work under their belt. The problem is that if you never learn to say no, your clients end up running the business—and you can’t clock out when you want.
- The inability to delegate. Entrepreneurs who have grown a business often struggle with this. They figure that if they’ve grown the business on their terms, they’re the only ones who are going to be able to continue to grow it. So they never learn to delegate properly—and the business doesn’t grow.
- Delegating customer service to bots. More on this in a bit.
It all adds up to the same problem: customers running the business, not you. And if your customers call you after 5 o’clock, you’re stuck. You went into business for yourself for the freedom. Now, you’re more tied to the desk than ever.
Before you go all Larry David on your customers…
…you need to learn how to take control of your evenings again.
And we’re not talking about staying tethered to a smartphone so you can answer client and customer calls during your family dinner hour, either.
We’re talking about spending quality time away from the business so you can focus on yourself, your health, your relationships, and your work-life balance.
What the Statistics Say About Working Too Hard
Why clock out at five?
It’s not that the number is particularly magical. It’s that it’s the end of the standard workday. Entrepreneurs who need to manage stress need to set a clear boundary between work time and personal time.
If a business is eating into your personal time, the consequences add up quickly. 70% of adults in America report that work is a significant source of stress, a number that’s moved up 6% since 2019.
The statistics also point to all sorts of complications that come with high stress and burnout for entrepreneurs. Compared to the population, entrepreneurs report:
- A higher history of depression (30%)
- More instances of ADHD (29%)
- Higher likelihood of substance abuse (12%)
Burn-out is a real condition. And entrepreneurs working long hours have an especially high risk.
And if you’re still at the office after five, chances are you’re exposing yourself to the same risks of burnout and high stress. You need someone to take over.
Use a Live Chat Service to Care for Customers After 5 o’clock
The easy answer is to sign up for a bot-based chat service and let every customer go to voicemail.
But that doesn’t quite ring true, does it?
The stats agree:
- We know 79% of customers prefer live chats.
- Live chats offer the highest customer satisfaction rates, of 92%.
- 62% of customers who use live chat are probably going to return to that site.
- 70% of consumers prefer human agents to AI. (The other 30% of consumers? Possibly robots.)
If you can’t clock out at 5 o’clock because you’re worried you’ll lose customers, you can’t skimp out on customer support. You need a live human dealing with your customers while you’re home for the day.
Clock Out at 5 o’clock Every Day Using a Live Chat Service
First things first: you need to know how live chat works. Use the link below to sign up for a free trial of HelpSquad to give it a whirl at no cost.
Why live chat at all? Because too many entrepreneurs resist delegating something as important as customer service to someone they don’t trust. And they don’t trust bots.
- Sales. The agents are trained to help convert chat inquiries into leads.
- Response quality. The live chat agents can pull information from your FAQs to help customers with specific problems before forwarding them on.
- Business integration. If a client needs to schedule time with you, or if you need to capture a new lead into your CRM, live chat agents can do that.
Using a 24/7 service means you can turn over customer support to live chat agents after you’re done and let the business run itself until you get back in the morning. With enough traffic, you might wake up to new sales, new leads, and new contacts.
Productivity Tips for Clocking Out Without Feeling Distracted All Night
“Invest in yourself first. Get back in balance. Now… before it’s too late.”
No one’s going to come up to you and tell you that your business is running you. It’s a slow creep. A feeling that emerges over months–even years–of habits.
Those habits can start to pile up on you if you’re not proactive about running the business on your terms.
That’s what every one of the following productivity tips has in common: it’s something you can do beyond setting up a live chat service. It’s something proactive. It may take some initial work, but the investment will pay off in the long term.
Tip #1: Set Boundaries for Yourself by Saying “No”
The “5 o’clock Rule” is a prime example of a boundary. You’re at work before then. After that, you turn it over to voicemail or a live chat service. If someone calls your work phone after 5 o’clock, what happens?
If you’ve set an effective boundary, the work phone goes to voicemail.
This is all about learning the art of saying “no.” If Kesha comes up to you and demands a hug, you don’t have to hug her.
In Damon Zahariades’ book on the topic–called, coincidentally enough, “The Art of Saying No”–he designates saying no as an essential life skill.
The problem is that we say “yes” for too many reasons. We want to avoid conflict. We want to capitalize on every opportunity that comes our way.
But if you run a business that performs better with salespeople and live chat representatives manning the website, there’s no benefit to saying “yes” to more work.
Here’s what you’ll need to remember about saying “no”:
- Saying “No” is a life skill. Practice it like one, even if it means you start with the smaller decisions first.
- Don’t offer excuses. If a customer asks why you weren’t available after 5 o’clock yesterday, what do you say? Don’t offer an excuse like you had to get home for an emergency. Simply say you weren’t at work. Because you decided you weren’t.
- Own your time. It’s perfectly acceptable to set your own boundaries if you run the business. Own the fact that you don’t work after 5 o’clock, and realize that taking ownership of your personal time will improve other aspects of your life that make you a better boss when you come in the next morning.
If someone asks you if they can add to your plate, remember one word.
Tip #2: Use the “Pyramid of Delegation”
When you build a business from nothing, it’s tempting to think that only your direct manual control will help it grow.
If you run a business, your direct manual control should be the last option on what I call the “Pyramid of Delegation.”
The Pyramid looks like this:
If you have something that can be delegated…
- …find software for it first. If there’s no software that will suffice…
- …find a service for it first. Ahem. If there’s no service that will suffice…
- …hire virtually first. If there’s no remote worker that will suffice…
- …outsource it first. If there’s no employee that will suffice…
- …then–and only then–does it make sense to do it yourself.
This pyramid won’t work for every situation. You can’t delegate major decisions to software. But if there are small, repeatable tasks that eat into your time and impede your ability to go home at 5 o’clock, it’s not a bad rule of thumb.
Tip #3: Limit the Options for Your Customers
Productivity isn’t just about managing yourself. It’s about how effectively you manage people around you.
That includes customers, patients, clients–everyone who might stumble onto your site looking to take up some of your precious evening time.
When you’re away from your business, you want to limit the options of your customers. Your goal is to funnel them towards something productive (like making a purchase or interacting with a live chat specialist) and away from something unproductive (like calling you during dinner). Here are some ways to do it:
- Don’t forward calls to your personal cell phone. Maintain a separate business number at all times. If you must take calls for emergencies, make that clear by allowing only those with actual emergencies to reach you.
- Do refer people to your support team. If you have a live chat service already established on your website, let your post 5 o’clock voicemail mention that. You don’t want to send more people to your voicemail; you want them to reach live support, especially when that live support is handled by someone else.
The Bottom Line: How to Get Home at 5 o’clock (With Your Sanity Intact)
How do you get home at 5 o’clock?
By realizing it’s a decision you make, not a goal you achieve. The way you build your website–and your business–will determine how much time you have to spend at the office. And if you don’t have enough hours in the day, that’s a product of the way you’ve built your company.
If you want your evenings back, build your company a new way. Your sanity–and your health–will thank you.