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Janine Bolon: Hello, and welcome back to the Thriving Solopreneur show. This is Janine Bolon, your host. With me today is Joe Perrone. He is an executive consultant who helps business owners and professionals find freedom from stress and overwhelm. We could all use a lot more of that. He is an expert in creating free time and eliminating burnout. So, when you are overwhelmed and you don’t know how to get yourself out of the chaos that you find yourself in, Joe is your guy. Welcome to the show, Joe. It’s wonderful to have you.
Joe Perrone: Hi, Janine. Thanks so much for having me.
Janine: It is always a lot of fun to be able to talk to folks like yourself who have not only systems but processes that help a lot of entrepreneurs move out of that space because I have been an entrepreneur for over 30 years and there are still times where I have somebody on speed dial that, as we like to say, I’ll get my panties in a wad and I will just be so overwhelmed and I have so many things to do and I have what I like to call “analysis paralysis”. I really do not know where to go first. So, I would love to hear anything you want to share regarding what you’re number 1 tip is to help people avoid that whole “analysis paralysis” we can get in.
Joe: Sounds good, Janine. Well, I’ll start out bites by saying that for your solopreneurs entrepreneurs out there that it feels lonely, sometimes. It really feels like a lonely space in owning businesses and dealing with our clients and really trying to do our best to give them value every day and serve them. Sometimes, it feels very lonely. So, it’s very important that we learn to slow down, first and foremost, as we are going through our day. Slowing down will really cause us to realize what we’re doing, what our purpose is, and how we show up in the world. That’s so important that we realize that because when we’re going about our day on purpose, we’re going about our service on purpose. As we’re slowing down, that purpose stays at the forefront of everything that we do. When that overwhelm comes, when that stressful client comes or thing that would normally cause you, you have that knee-jerk negative reaction. Having that purpose right in front of us, knowing why we do it, and why it’s so important to the world helps quite a bit.
Janie: I’ve actually had some solopreneurs trying to be and go, “Janine, I really don’t know what my purpose is.” They feel like the business is wagging them. The business is the dog and they feel like, the tail is definitely wagging the dog and they really don’t know what their purpose is. Do you have any advice for somebody in that category? I’m not saying everybody is there, but there are days where– I’m very fortunate. I have a very definite purpose. I’m very goal-centered and I have targets I’m shooting for, but it’s been interesting as I’ve had the show over the last several years that there are some people that still struggle with their purpose. So, I just love to have some of your advice on that.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely, Janine. That’s one of the things that I love working with my clients. Actually, the thing I really love working with clients is getting crystal clear on what it is that they love to do. What it is that inspires them? Why did they get into that business in the first place? I can give you a quick story about my own background in the automotive industry. I got to a point where I was really burned out. I actually spent a day in an ER and on a hospital bed and I’ve had series of panic attacks. Janine, I was making a lot of money. I was doing very well. I had a house, I just got married, and life was going really good for me. That lack of why I was doing what I did, that lack of purpose, really, was the catalyst for all this anxiety that I had.
The years and weeks and months coming out of that, really my sole purpose was working on what I did and who I serve. Even in the automotive industry that I still own my two businesses, I really had to get clear on what I was doing in that business. Why I was doing that? Through a series of coaching, questions, books that I read, and podcast, like Thriving Solopreneurs’ similar podcast, I found that I was really helping people. That’s what most of us do and that’s what most of us are passionate about. Just helping people and service to others. After one of our clients would get into an accident, that’s when I really love doing what I do. I love being that go-to person to set up their insurance claim and make sure they had another car to use, the rental. That was service. That was helping.
In any industry, any one of your entrepreneurs can really latch onto that and say, “Okay, well, what am I do? What do I like doing in this business the most? Getting clear on that and even in our just everyday life, our purpose in life, what are the things that you value? Who are the people that you value the most? What are the things that you value? Who are the people that you value the most? Who do you serve? Who are the people that naturally gravitate to your service and what you do and to focus on them and to be really crystal clear on what that purpose is and how you help them the best? That really makes your daily life. It’s so powerful. It’s so full of meaning.
Janine: With all the self-development that you went through after your cute little trip to the ER, which was not a small event for you, but as you move through that story of your own self-development, what was a process that used to find your purpose? Because, I, for some reason, have a gift that my purpose kind of presents itself in a mental image that is crystal clear. Like, when I’m supposed to write a book, I see the book cover first. I see the book cover and the title, and then, I know I can write the book. It’s stupid, but that’s the way it happens for me. I consider business owners to be creatives. Every creative has their own way that they are inspired. So, how did you dig yourself out of those horrific times of anxiety? I’ve only experienced an anxiety attack only once in my life but it was enough to make me really have compassion for those who struggle with those. What is your process for chiseling out of that place and making a target for yourself? Was it inspired? Was it an “aha” moment, or was it something that you slowly built over time?
Joe: It was something that I slowly built over time and that’s time is the key element. That was what I struggled with. I always claim that I didn’t have the time to read a book, or listen to a podcast, or go to lunch with a mentor. I don’t have that time. That’s what most entrepreneurs face is that I don’t have time to go network. I don’t have time to listen to the Thriving Solopreneurs. I don’t have time to listen to that stuff and read books and develop myself. That was my biggest thing. Finding the time was the key fact[?] that needed to get crystal clear on all those things that I was trying to work on. My process for that was I did a simple time on it. It sounds silly and it sounds like, oh, yeah, just do a time on it.
Well, I sat down and looked down at the story I was telling myself that I didn’t have the time. And I said, “Okay, well, what do I do in 24 hours? What do I do in 7 days in a week? What do I do in a month? I started really auditing what I was doing and where I was spending my time. What I noticed right off the bat was it was a combination of social media, it was TV. It was things that weren’t building me up and weren’t getting me any closer to that freedom that I was so looking for in business, in that purpose that I was so looking for in business. So, that was the first process that I use. Your listeners can do it very simply with a sheet of paper. They don’t need any special tools. I love actionable things that you could take away today and start them right away. So, get out a sheet of paper and make two columns, things I enjoy doing and things I don’t enjoy doing.
As you go through the day, just notice what you’re doing. Notice what really gets you excited. What builds you up? What makes you feel that you’re alive and you get some satisfaction from your life in your business? Then, on the other side of the paper is things I do not enjoy doing. These are the things that our business that we may not be especially good at. I know for myself, it was working on the marketing in my business. That was not, particularly, fun for me. As much as I loved networking and as much as I love connecting with people, the actual mechanics of marketing was not my forte. That’s, actually, caused me a lot of time spent on social media that I would just go down a rabbit hole.
On that column of things that I did not enjoy doing was marketing and be checking the bank statements every other day over the bank account on the computer. Every other day, I’m just watching the account and just the stress and anxiety of that would build up. I just learned that there are people out there that are far better than me at doing certain things. I thought I was the best at everything. Who could be better than me at bookkeeping? So, we went out and we found those people that were better than us at these certain things. We found people that did marketing force but did the bookkeeping. You don’t have to hire a full-time person. You can kind of subcontract that stuff out.
Those two columns of things I enjoy doing and the things that I don’t enjoy doing, it’s such a powerful tool. It really causes you going back to getting clear. Getting clear on what you’re really good at, what you like doing. Then, as you go through that, focus on those things that you’re really good at. Delegate and eliminate the rest. There are some things that we would go and say, “Well, I have to do this. I must do this.” and I say, audit those musts, go back and revisit the story of why I actually have to do this, why I must do this, why is this a must. I say in my 5 Keys to Time Freedom, I would love to offer your listeners, does this “must” matter right now. This, I must do this. Well, what if I could change my attitude or my approach to doing it? Again, what if I can outsource it, ask for help with it?
I’ve asked my team for help doing things. It’s such a humbling thing to do as a business owner to ask for help, but asking for help in our organization has unlocked so many opportunities for us as business owners. That unlocks so many important opportunities for our team to grow and empower themselves. That has really been the growth and success key of our business has been asking our team for help and then empowering them because there were things that they like to do. So, we empower them. They helped us grow automatically. It was amazing.
Janine: One of my favorite things to find out was I despise bookkeeping and entering receipts and tracking the money. I despise it. So, every time I’ve started another business, I’ve always sought a bookkeeper first because I made sure my business. I didn’t pay myself first. I know that’s breaking a lot of rules, but I would always pay my bookkeeper first because I despised it. I hated it. So, that was always the first person that I hired as soon as I possibly could. It was like, I was going to work really hard for three months, so I could hire a bookkeeper so that by the first year, I would save up all my receipts. This is back in the day when everything was paper, I’d save up all my receipts in this huge shoe box and I’d handed over to my bookkeeper. I’m very proud of myself that I now could afford one and that is one of the things that I love.
There’s more to this Freedom thing. I really want to talk about the freedom thing that you mentioned, time freedom. As an entrepreneur, there are only two things that are our biggest assets, I think, and that is our freedom of time. How we are spending our and how we are spending our money. So, time and money are so intricately interrelated that when you mention, okay, we really need to do a time audit so that we can see if we’re really focusing on the things that are helping us and helping us thrive as a person. Talk to us a little bit and give us some examples of this time freedom that you love to share with people and how you go about maintaining that thriving business that you have.
Joe: Great question, Janine. The time freedom for me was, again, going back to gang clear on what it was that I was good at, what I like doing, what really lit me up as an entrepreneur and caused me to get out of bed in the morning and just go at this another day. It was when I had time to work on my business versus in my business. That’s when I got so creative that I was able to just have that freedom to think and get ideas and get new perspectives on, or what was my client experience? What did that look like as they were coming into my business? How did I show up in the world? Even that small thought and process that went into was just on the day off. I had it just a day sitting in my home office with a pen and a paper just writing down ideas. Well, that was on a Tuesday morning.
Typically, on a Tuesday morning, I’d be barking orders at the team and I’d be running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I would just be in it. I was in the thick of it. I didn’t have any bird’s eye view of what was actually going on. That time freedom that I created allowed me to have that creativity, have that thought, that “aha” moment. Those “aha” moments are very valuable for us. Wouldn’t you agree, Janine?
Janine: Oh, totally. Thank you for serving that ball back to me because I love being able to chat and you’re touching on my favorite topics. First thing, I wanted to mention was the fact that you give yourself time to think, okay? That’s number 1 and that comes from the “working in your business versus working on your business” I’d like you to share that a little bit more because that’s in several of my books. Well, you talk about the difference because I was in business for years before I understood working on my business which was the marketing and the thinking part versus working in my business.
I’m going to toggle that onto the other concept which is being able to have inspired action versus being motivated in your business because motivated, for me, was out of a sense of fear, lack of security, worried about where the next paycheck was going to come from, how I am going to get my next contract. Whereas inspired action is what you just talked about, sitting down with a piece of paper and writing out your ideas and not being in that place of fear.
I know this is like a five-sided question I’ve just handed you, but it’s like, that’s really the question though, isn’t it? Having that thriving business, but at the same time, giving yourself permission to take time for yourself. I’d love to hear how you were able to do that for yourself. You mentioned, what do you like to do, what do you not like to do, having a time audit, but how did you get yourself into your chair on Tuesday mornings, dude? That’s what I want to know.
Joe: Yeah, that’s great. That’s the million-dollar question, right? I have a business partner and I’m so blessed, first of all, to have one of the most wonderful business partners. He’s like a brother to me. We’ve never had a disagreement. It just flows in there. That was the hardest thing. We both had young children, and we both grew up with parents that were just hard-working middle-class parents. My dad is that. They never missed the baseball game. They never missed the practice. Parents were always present. We really valued being present parents. One of the things that we both valued also was spending time with our families at home. We didn’t believe in the work 60 to 70 hours a week until 65 and then retire, maybe, get 5 or 6 healthy years, and then, you just really don’t feel like doing it. I question that really big, so did my business partner.
When we had the opportunity to say, “Okay, Mike, you pick the things that you really like to do, and I’ll pick the things that I like to do.” Neither one of us need to be here on the same day. If one of us is here, the other one doesn’t need to be here. Then, sometimes, I get pushback. Well, I don’t have a business partner for I moment. Well, I can count on that as well, but let’s stick with the business partner aspect. When we decided that we were going to take time off, that was a decision. We cut off any other option. That decision holds the “in” the time. It like magically pulled in that time for us because we decided that Mike was going to take these days. Joe is going to take these days. It was hard at first. We started with one day. It was we alternated Thursdays and Fridays. That was really hard.
The first time that we took a day off each, the other one came in the following day. It was a little bit chaotic and there was a little bit of stress around it, but then, we identified, “Okay, well, what was the stress? Where did this come from?” and we corrected that problem. A couple of weeks later, that problem wasn’t there anymore. Then, there was another little hiccup or a glitch. It was slowly working on that, implementing systems to kind of have a fail-safe for us, but we made that conscious decision where there was no other option, right? Decide. Cut off any other option. We were taking that time. It was important to us for our families, our wives will love it that we’re home, the honey-do list got a little longer. I have 4 projects going on at my house, right now, but that’s besides the point. Your significant other will be very happy that you’re home.
Then, for me, it was creating that time to– I like networking. I’m in a networking group in New Haven. That’s where my home base is. That time that was spent just really turbocharged my level of inspired actions. I saw other entrepreneurs that were dead or in similar industries that were in different industries. I wore jeans and a sweatshirt. They wear a suit to the meeting. I saw so many different kinds of people, but I got to know them as people. I got to see how they ran their business, how do they take time off. I would say cobbled together, but we’ve strung together a lot of different ideas and we’ve been so open-minded to the concept of if everybody else was open-minded, the concept of work 80 hours and burn yourself out, we developed the concept of, let see how little we can be in our business. Let’s start our team to flourish and thrive.
I’m proud to say that our team is highly compensated. They have so many opportunities. They would never leave our company for a lack of growth or opportunity. That’s one of the things that I’m really happy to share with our employees because we value them and we value their growth in having those opportunities for themselves. So, it comes, again, from a place of service where we feel that a highly compensated employee just reflects back on us. I mean, the more money they’re making, the more money we’re bringing in. They have a lot of incentives and opportunities to grow and thrive. It’s infectious. It’s in our company’s culture now that sometimes, some days, it’s a little bit challenging, but they’re always looking for a new opportunity. Some days, I’m just like, “I’m all out of opportunities this week.” “Come back to me next week. I’ll get my pen and pad out and we’ll dream something new.”
Janine: It’s hysterical how that works, though. It really is. I remember there was a period of time where I was offering members of my team. I’d give them 10% of whatever they would save the company. When I had this individual come to me and say, “I found a way to save us, $25,000 a year.” and they got that Christmas bonus because they saved the company that much. And people were like, “Well, why only 10%?” and I said, “Because then reflects in everybody gets a raise on the IRA contributions and 401K contributions we are able to make.” So, we were very transparent with our finances. Like, this is the budget. This is how much we make. We showed everybody how much Human Resources paid to everybody and stuff like that.
So, these are ways that you can do that but for folks who are solopreneurs, I don’t want to leave you out. I hope you understand what Joe is saying here, you have to make a conscious hard choice on how much are you going to work. Are you going to give yourself office hours? One of the things I’d like to really encourage you out there if you are a solopreneur, is have you planned your vacation? If you’re one of those people that says, “Well, I haven’t had a vacation in 7 years.” and you think somebody’s going to come along and put a badge on your chest and give you an attaboy for that, that’s just crazy. The whole reason we got into business for ourselves was so that we would have a lot more control of our time. That time freedom that Joe talks about over and over again. So, I really want to encourage you. If you haven’t to sit down with a pen and paper and decide, when are you going to come to work?
Joe I’m going to come back around to you on this. One of the things I like to relay this is just that I take Sunday-Monday off because I need to work Saturday for one of my business models. At the same time, I only work 4 days a week. So, I work on Saturday, I work on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The rest of the time, I’m either taking off or I’m working on my business. I take a whole day that I do nothing but think about ways to grow the business, and you’ve done that too. You and I have read. You’re giggling about this earlier. We read a lot of the same books. You know what? Gosh! Darn it. It works. My family’s happier and I’m happier.
Talk to us a little bit, for those solopreneurs, about how you go about making that conscious effort. How did you decide on your days, and then, office hours, and then, what did you do personally to pull yourself into that chair every Tuesday morning? You’re sitting down with a pen and paper. That is a decision, dude, that a lot of people struggle with.
Joe: For the solopreneurs out there, this is one thing that I really believe in and it’s, we have to get rid of that guilt. The guilt is something that will override any decision that we can make because it could just be this weight that we feel. So, I want all the solopreneurs out there that are listening here, just get rid of the guilt. Nobody’s going to beat you over the head for taking a day off. I have a solopreneur that is one of our subcontractors. She’s wonderful at what she does. If she tells me she’s going away for two weeks, the only thing I asked her is, “Do I need to do anything while you’re going?” She says, “No, it’s all under control and so we’ll have a nice vacation.” “Do I need to pay you before you go?” “Yes.” “Okay, here’s the check.”
Solopreneurs, if you don’t have clients like that, then, you need to do a double check on the clients that you do have, those needy clients, those clients that are sucking the soul and the life out of your business. Solopreneurs, this is for you. You need to check if those clients are right for you. Then, that goes back to getting clear on who is the right client for you. Who do you enjoy working with? Who do you like dealing with? Who pays you on time? Who values your service? Who values what you do and would pay you more if the stakes were raised, so to speak? That’s really important because what I hear from a lot of solopreneurs is that, “Oh, I just couldn’t take this time off. My client would go crazy.”
We’re human beings. We weren’t meant to work ourselves to death and have this burden on ourselves that is weighing us down. It would bring us into the stress overwhelm and burn out. Listen, if you burn out and you’re in the hospital for a week, your clients just going to have to suck it up and deal with it. So, solopreneurs, I would rather if you found those clients that valued you for the awesome jobs that you do and slowly weed out those problem clients in, as they come into your world, just know that there are clear “no” for you. It’s okay to say “no” to a client.
Janine: I think those whole setting boundaries, which could be another entire podcast that you and I could talk about on how to set boundaries with your clients. Let’s go ahead and wrap this up because you’ve given us some fabulous content. Is there anything you’d like to share with our listeners that you want us to walk away from today?
Joe: I just really want to make sure that the solopreneurs know that, again, it’s about what makes you happy, what do you desire. Being clear on what it is and you will give your best service to the business community. You’ll give the best service to your family when you are at peace when you’re happy, when you love what you do. That’s when you will give the best service. So, I just want your listeners to know that they are valuable. They are great people and they need to own that. I’m just happy to share with as many people as I can.
Janine: Well, and you also have a little PDF file or a book or something that you wanted to share with us today, too. How do people go about getting that from you?
Joe: The 5 Keys to Time Freedom, you can go right to my website, joeperrone.biz. At the bottom of the page, it will retraction be a sign up for that. You can find me on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. I love connecting.
Janine: Chose one of these wonderful people that you’re not going to have to worry about him being in your email inbox 4 times in a week or more. When you sign up for his newsletter, is when you sign up for this free offering that he’s giving, the 5 Keys to Time Freedom, he is going to be in your inbox, how often? I think I only get once a month from you. Occasionally, I get a couple of a month. Is that right?
Joe: It’s like once a week but it’s little tidbits, little stories, things that I went through, things that clients have gone through, just little nuggets to help you along the way. I’m really about services. I love to serve the business community.
Janine: Right. I just wanted to let you know, you’re not going to have to worry about being inundated and having just ginormous numbers of emails from Joe on that because we’ve all had that, right? We’ve all had that where you sign up and the next thing you know, you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, this person will not stop talking to me.” All right. Well, thank you so much for being on the show today, Joe.
Joe: Janine, thanks so much. It was my pleasure.
Janine: This is Janine Bolon with the Thriving Solopreneur, wishing you a fabulous weekend. We will see you again next Friday. Have a great day.