Entrepreneurs build businesses that either serve them or enslave them. For most entrepreneurs, the latter is true.
Running a business is a massive undertaking. Your hair is on fire at most times. It gets so overwhelming that founders often forget all boundaries to give their business all that they have. In between all this, the weekend gets compromised.
If you go around asking founders, how often do they work weekends?
"Quite often" will be the most frequent answer. While some founders do it for passion, others find it a necessity to keep the lights on.
But that's not the case with Ben Kinnaird, founder of Rather Inventive.
Ben doesn't work weekends. So much so, that it's even mentioned on his LinkedIn bio, "I don't work weekends - this time is spent with friends and family".
It's quite interesting!
Let's hear from Ben on how and why he does it:
"I don't work weekends, I have only worked 1 or 2 weekends even since Rather Inventive started. That's 12 years back. There have been a couple of instances that I had to work weekends as something really important and urgent came up. But usually, most things can wait until Monday.
Everyone knows that I don't work weekends. Even my clients, so when they write me emails on weekends they mention that I don't have to reply on weekend and they're only sending the email so they don't forget. I feel everyone can do this, the trick is to be consistent and effective with your work. If you're good at what you do, no one minds you taking a couple of days off to recharge and be back fresh the next week."
That sounds so good! I really hope more founders find the confidence and self-respect to implement this for themselves. In the end, we're all humans. A couple of days off every week will only serve us better.
In this episode, Ben shares how he started his company 12 years back and got his 1st few customers, how he holds his clients accountable and they love it, a typical day in his life, new habits he's forming, and what he would do if he got 1 extra hour every day.
Let's dive in!
Ben introduces himself.
Hi, I'm Ben! Founder of Rather Inventive. I help businesses find and communicate with their best customers ie people they really want to work with. We do a variety of different things. From building marketing strategies, developing websites, social media, to search optimization.
The clients I work with call me their biggest cheerleader for always pushing them through all the marketing obstacles they face. This makes me feel special.
Holding people accountable
I feel what differentiates me from other consultants is that I always hold my clients accountable to take actions based on our calls.
Say if I just did a marketing call with a company, I'll make sure to ask what actions were taken based on our last call. My clients love this, and this slightly pushes them to take action to get better at their marketing.
State of marketing in 2009
At the time I started Rather Inventive, which was around 2009, digital marketing wasn't a big thing but it was up and coming. There was SEO, and there were some social networks in their very early years. Things were just starting back then.
I remember going to events wearing a t-shirt that had many marketing terms written at the back with question marks in front of them. I wore that t-shirt so people could come to me and talk about these terms. It was just my way of networking and building connections.
Getting first 10 clients as a consultant
In the beginning, I started a free marketing consultancy clinic. I simply announced to everyone that I'll be sitting at a co-working and people could come to me and talk about anything related to marketing. This got me, my 1st client!
When you get your 1st client, you've broken into the door. It's a beginning. It gives you a lot of confidence.
With that confidence, I started doing workshops. Being in front of people helps in making sales. In workshops they get to see the product they'll be buying in action, that was me. The workshop worked very well, getting me 30-40 new clients in total spanning several workshops.
Workshops work well because it's like giving out a free sample. People get free value from a workshop. After they get value from you, even if it's free, they're more likely to buy from you.
That's how I got my first few clients. After you have your 1st set of clients, it's all about creating a lot of value for your clients. So much value that they can't help but talk about you to their friends. That's where you unlock the power of referrals. Once you've unlocked referrals you just have to keep doing the same thing over and over again. The referrals will ensure your business grows continuously.
A typical day
I get up at 7 O'clock. Usually, the first thing I do is walk my dog. I'll listen to a podcast while I walk the dog and it's surprising how much information you can get in half an hour or 45 minutes of listening. 8 O'clock we make breakfast, either porridge or eggs. While we have breakfast, I quickly skim email and see if there's anything that can give me a shock at 9 O'clock when I start work.
At 9 I start work. Basically, I go to the dedicated room in my house which is my office. It's nice and quiet. Exactly what I need to get some quality work done.
First, I start off with some client work. I earmark the 1st hour or 2 for that. Because if I start checking my email and going down the many rabbit holes, it'll be hard for me to do real work.
Also, I prefer doing my creative/thinking work in the mornings, as my brain gets a little muddy after having carbs in the afternoon. I never schedule anything immediately after lunch for I don't want to rush my lunch to get working on something or attend a call. For that reason, one hour after lunch there's nothing scheduled on my calendar.
I finish my work by 5. This is a practice I started when we had kids, my wife would take care of them all day long and would need a break by 5. So I had to jump in there. I'm glad that I have kept that practice going even now.
After 5 maybe I'll do some cooking, put the kids in bed, TV time. By 10:30 I'm in bed. My schedule is pretty straight. Every single day I'm doing pretty much the same thing.
Not working weekends
I don't work weekends, and I have only worked 1 or 2 weekends even since Rather Inventive started. That's 12 years back. There have been a couple of instances that I had to work weekends as something really important and urgent came up. But usually, most things can wait until Monday.
Everyone knows that I don't work weekends. Even my clients, so when they write me emails on weekends they mention that I don't have to reply on the weekend and they're only sending the email so they don't forget. I feel everyone can do this, the trick is to be consistent and effective with your work. If you're good at what you do, no one minds you taking a couple of days off to recharge and be back the next week.
But it wasn't always like this. I had a company before this with my friend. For that company, we worked anytime I felt like. There were no structures. No constraints.
It was only once I started going out with my now wife, that I started to understand the importance of having constraints. Especially when we had kids. The kids needed attention and care, which brought in the constraints for me and they've stayed ever since. I even have it written on my LinkedIn profile, "I don't work weekends".
I get more done with constraints and in lesser time, than the amount of work I did before without any constraints. Constraints are good.
On forming habits
I live by habits. I like rules, structures, and consistency. That's been the reason I've been able to establish boundaries for myself that everyone willingly respects.
There are a couple of habits I'm trying to get into. One is maintaining a note of everything in my notes app. Whether it is a quick task, or meeting notes, or something else. I write it all down in my notes app. Although this isn't a perfectly formed habit, it has helped me already. I'll tell you how.
The other day I was at a party and I was tipsy. There was a guy I was talking to, and he asked me to ring him about an idea we were discussing. The next morning I didn't remember anything that happened at the party. Then I open my phone and I see a note saying, "Ring XYZ with links to resources for this idea". I straight away did that. If it weren't for my note-taking habit, I would have completely forgotten what I was asked to do.
Another habit I'm trying to build is, doing the client work right after I get off a call with them. At that time I'm in the zone and have all the information required to do the work. So if I even put in half an hour's work right after the call, I'll get a significant part of the work done.
One extra hour
If I get one extra hour every day, I'll spend it programming. I can say I'll spend it with my family, but I already do that. I really enjoy programming but I rarely find time for it, so that's what I'd like to do in that extra one hour.
How to reach Ben?
The best place to reach me is by going to ratherinventive.com. The website links to all my different resources and social media. It's mostly focused around marketing, but occasionally around productivity.