The Plight of the Emerging Manager (S1E2) – The 40-hour Sleep

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Written by James Burron

This posting is a bit less nuts-and-bolts, and hope it helps.

Working in a start-up operation – including an alternative manager or service provider – is not for the faint of heart. One must have a market to target, the staff to do the work required, the capital to back-stop inevitable delays, changes, and additional charges, and a business plan to put it all together (more on all of these topics in future editions).

And you need to know when to sleep and slow down. A story: when Caroline and I founded CAASA on February 5 of this year we had a good idea of all of the above. Over the previous 2 weeks we had built out our budget and business plan including what we stood for, how we would deliver on our promises, and how we would remain economically viable. It was a heady time and I, par for the course, was on the road almost immediately…a lot. Many new businesses probably have done the same: you have a plan and you want to implement it as soon as possible. It takes time to lay groundwork with some potential clients (although many, for us, signed on immediately, which was gratifying and encouraging) and the best time to start that process is today, if not yesterday.

One week, in mid-February, I was in Montréal with too thin an overcoat. It was cold, but I was there to meet with members and those who were interested in what we were doing – it really wasn’t all that bad, right? Soldier on.

By Friday at 4:30pm, I laid down for what was to be a nap before dinner (getting old). The following week included a week in Alberta to do more of the same. I awoke (basically) Sunday morning – 40 hours later. I now knew why concerts and other performances are canceled because someone was ‘exhausted’. Planning and starting the business, the exhilaration of our first few member applications, seeing it actually come together and getting many new ideas on what we should be doing was, there’s that word again, exhausting. When you’re in a stable role, with known parameters, known participants, and a different set of expectations (by clients, your family, and yourself) it can overwhelm even the most seasoned.

Now, when that feeling of hitting the wall occurs, I step back. Actually, my planning is such that I take that extra time to make sure I’m not getting stretched – and try to ensure that Caroline does the same! Still logging the miles and the hours, adding more members, more member initiative groups/committees, more events, and more on the family side…but somehow making it work. Maybe you get used to it: when at AIMA Canada, we grew from 66 members to 164, from 11 events per year to 50-60, and from 5 committees to 10 – over about 7 years. CAASA has gone from 0 to 74 members, 0 to 15 events, 0 to 9 committees – in about 7 months.

My advice to those starting out (in something new) is it’s ok to have that 40-hour sleep. It’s ok to do as much as you possibly can. You just have to know where that line is…and if it moves, then you can move with it. You have to do as much as possible, as quickly as possible, while sticking to your value proposition to clients and altering your offering as much as prudent to match these new expectations. You just need to know when to sleep and recharge so you can reenter the fray once more.

View the article on LinkedIn, here