Checklist: self auditing

You'll find that your new career idea needs some realism. There are a couple of checklists that need to be done, before you can be sure you're doing things right.

What you want to do, what you can do, when you can do it, and what you have to do any of it with, need to be checked out.

This can be an irritating process. Nothing worse than being reminded, by yourself, that there are things that need doing.

Except maybe being reminded there are things you need.

That's why you need to do this. Before you try to do anything, you have to be sure of your resources, times, and ability to stay on schedule.

SELF CHECKLIST:

Money. Can be used for little hobbies like living.

Time. Used for separating one impossible situation from another, and getting something done about them.

Communications. Can you stay in contact with the really necessary people? Do it. Make sure you're fully functional in this area.

Navigation. You really need to know where you're going, every step of the way. There are plenty of dead ends, and you need to recognize and make a point of avoiding all of them. This is more than goal setting, this is survival.

Pest control. There's always something, or someone. Make sure you can flick any distractions out of the way. Develop an evasion strategy, something which prevents you getting dragged into situations where your time, patience and energy is going to be hit.

Health. Don't get out of bed without it. Get some sort of medical cover, affordable but useful. Even if it's not much, it'll save some problems.

Important: Don't work yourself to death. Classic cause of burnout.

Daily basics of life. If there's one thing which will trip you up every step of the way, the basics are the most likely. Food, bills, costs, pin them all down.

Budget like you mean it. Being short of things acts as a big incentive, but so does a cow prod. Don't make a habit of going without, because it means something's not delivering for you.

All of this creates time and space to concentrate on what you're trying to achieve, not what happens to be underfoot at any given moment.

Time and space are great allies, because you need them to function and develop your career, and to exploit opportunities.

ACTION CHECKLIST:

Do everything immediately. Don't let things pile up, because you're sabotaging yourself. You can never be entirely sure when you'll need time for something important, and you don't need distractions.

Even if something doesn't need doing for weeks, get rid of it.

Manage your times. Everything can be timed, and organized, if you make sure you have some time available. It's quite possible to work 12 hours a day only to find out there's still heaps of work and things that need doing. If you leave yourself some free time every day, you're a lot safer with anything that drops in on you.

Be conservative in your estimates. This is for whatever you do, whether it's work, time or money. Never work purely on the best result approach, you'll find yourself getting let down on a regular basis. Third parties can be expected to have their own problems. Things don't get done, people don't deliver, it's normal, and you need to be able to handle the bumps.

Don't rely on other people. You're the one in the firing line. It requires some management, but you can usually figure out how to get things done yourself. Suppliers, contractors, clients, and the rest of the human race can be obstructive. Some can be liabilities. That, you don't need.

This figures out as Cover Your Tail At All Times. Where there's any kind of commitment, contract, legal liability, or anything else with a dangerous component, the risk factor cuts in automatically, and it can be lethal. If Supplier A can't or won't deliver, make sure there's a Supplier B.

For people in professions, the risks are sometimes greater. Consultants, in particular, can find themselves hamstrung by unreliable parties.

Find good people. Suppliers, employees, business associates, you name it, the need is for trustworthy people at all levels. Problems always happen, even with the best of people. But these are the people who understand the importance of getting things done properly and on time. If anything goes wrong, it won't be their fault.

Get a good reputation. In any profession, ultimately what separates the exceptional from the average is proven talent. You can look good, sound good, and smell great, and the professionals won't believe a word of it until you get some runs on the board. They can't afford to trust anyone until that trust is earned. Common sense, but also good business practice. This can be demanding, but if you can do it, it's worth it.

Avoid sleaze and involvement in scams. Do real business. Too often, there are so-called easy options, and most of them involve some sort of scam. That can kill your reputation, annoy your clients, and cost you good business and contacts as a result.

This does mean Keep Your Nose Clean, but it pays off as not having to worry about the backlash.

Stay in control. It's easy for people like accountants, IT and lawyers to run your business, or your career, on the basis of specialist knowledge.

It means you're operating without direct input to your own business, and that's not a safe option. It also means you're stuck with whatever advice or information someone can be bothered to give you. Always try and find options, and ways of giving yourself options.

Know how to:

  • Do your own accounts and analyze your figures
  • Get independent advice. Don't be dependent on one source of information.
  • Keep track of people, projects, and relevant data for yourself.
  • Operate your own IT, to a reasonable level. You don't have to be an expert, but you do need good working knowledge. This can be a black hole for time and money.
  • Legal advice can be obtained from anyone qualified to act as a legal practitioner. Some extra advice can also be found from the people in the business or industry. Unless your lawyer is a proven commodity, take the time to check out how good that advice is. It will cost a little, but that's better than costing a lot for no good reason.

Stress is dangerous. You're not being soft if you do something about stressful situations. It's one of the wonderful features of modern society that anything can be a cause of stress. It creates real problems. If you're feeling the heat, get out of the oven. Put things into neutral, and deal with it, immediately.

This new career is too important to blow on things you can keep well controlled with a bit of planning.

You don't have to be a hero. Somebody asked a Victoria Cross winner what it took to do that, and he answered 'Inexperience'.

Most people who live through combat did something right, usually when it needed doing.

You don't have to be a martyr, either. So many people work on the basis of some stupid workaholic sales pitch which doesn't mean much more than lousy time management. Nothing takes seven days a week, except breathing.

If anyone has to work twelve hours a day to do an eight hour a day job, there's something wrong.

Stay on track, doing what you intend to do.

Make sure you've got your Self and Action checklists all OK and operational.