How long are you working each week? How does it change when conditions change?
Strangely, you would expect to work less during a recession and more when market conditions are booming. Not always so.
During downturns, we often work more hours than when we are busy with a book of clients – because creating work is more time-intensive than doing work. Although I always insist that my clients continue to market even when they are busy working, the pressure to create work through networking and managing your social sites and your connections with your “loose ties” adds to the time you commit to your business during slow times.
And, if we are wise and refuse to be stalled by bad economic times, we spend our slow times preparing to enter adjacent markets or adding new skills to create new profit centers for our companies.
One consultant I know has focused on mastering the new social networks, developing programs to speak to, train and offer strategy to the masses of businesses of all sizes that now need to get on the social network bandwagon.
Even my dentist (a renowned prosthodontist) spent this past year training himself on the software of a new computer-driven system that creates new crowns while the patient waits during the first appointment (gone are the days of multiple visits while the remote lab tries to get the correct fit). He had the capital to invest in the system but not the time to master the software until his practice slowed down earlier this year.
As we entrepreneurs (the “self-employed” even if we have our small corporations) know, we are most likely working 60 hours a week. Are you tracking your time? See http://tinyurl.com/mlmjnw
Gallop reports that “… a sizable percentage of self-employed workers — 26% — say they work at least 60 hours per week, a much larger percentage than is found for workers of any other sector. Thanks to my colleague Beth Zimmerman at Cerebellas www.cerebellas.com for her Tweet about this new Gallop poll on the number of hours folks are working this year, despite the recession, in comparison with earlier years (about the same). http://tinyurl.com/n6nxnw
And, something else is happening here too. I am seeing a trend in more work activity for early stage and small businesses. Pipelines that were stalled are opening up and my colleagues are closing new work. Two colleagues and two of my clients have received their seed funding in recent weeks, each from private investors.
Now, no real change in the market conditions or the economy has taken place that can matter to small businesses. Unemployment is essentially the same as it has been in prior months.
But I’ve seen this before in other downturns (this is my 5th downturn, between tech crashes and general economic bad times). I was expecting it. The U.S. business community can only tolerate about 12 months of inactivity. Then, in true American fashion, it gets impatient and moves forward no matter the economic conditions. Although this impatience may be an emotional response to feeling stalled or stuck, it is no more irrationally emotional than the swings in the stock market.
Now, this isn’t economic theory I’m proposing here, just a personal trend I notice, down here in the emerging technology small business sector.
But I hoped it would come, and it looks like it is here.