Following sales leads. Interviewing potential employees. Comparing data services. Filing taxes. Brainstorming growth strategies. The list of things that you need to do as an entrepreneur is endless. As the owner of a business, everything falls back on you, and your very livelihood depends on your ability to do your job. This can put tremendous stress on pretty much anyone.
But as we all know, stress is a terrible thing. Or at least too much of it. It can cause a whole range of physical problems, not to mention the strain it can put on your mental state. And if you are not in tip-top physical condition, you will find yourself completely unable to do what needs to be done. While your long-term goal for your business may be to sell it and move on, you don’t want that to happen because you drove yourself too hard and couldn’t keep up.
Luckily, though, your future is not pre-determined. You can make changes in the way you operate now that will help preserve you in the future, ensuring you’ll be able to work on your business for as long as you need.
Learn to Delegate
This is probably the most difficult yet most necessary skill to learn as an entrepreneur, or as any type of leader. You cannot do everything. And you should not do everything. Often times, entrepreneurs have a very specific vision about how they want their company run, and it is very hard for them to let others sit in the driver’s seat. This is a mistake that will ultimately drive you mad. There simply isn’t enough time in the day.
But the way to train yourself to be able to delegate starts with trust. You need to know that the people you are working with can get the job done so that when you communicate your vision to people, you can be confident it will be carried out correctly. This way you can delegate a task and then move onto other things, only checking in to get updates and to answer questions.
Getting to this point is tough, and it starts with the hiring process. An important first step is to define the type of company culture you are looking to build. By doing this, it makes it a lot easier to identify the type of employees that will work well on your team, helping you bring in people you trust and to whom you can delegate. This interview by Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky sheds some light on the importance of establishing culture as a way to get the company working in the right direction. And the more good people you have working on your team, the less you need to overly stress about day-to-day activities, which gives you more time to dedicate to overarching strategy and planning.
Automate Where Necessary
There’s quite a bit of debate going on today about the merits of automation. Some fear people’s jobs will be replaced, while others see it as a way of enhancing the way we do business, opening up new doors to growth and prosperity.
As a busy entrepreneur, you need to be in the second camp. There are things out there, ranging from payroll to social media posting, that can be done automatically to save you and your company tremendous amounts of time. The small tradeoff is that you usually have to pay for these services, but the headache they will save you is well worth it. Instead of having to worry if bills have been paid, or if social media posts have been published, you can automate these tasks and then focus your attention elsewhere.
Outsource for Services
This follows a similar train of thought. While the expense of outsourcing certain services may push you away, the benefits far outweigh the costs. For example, bringing someone in to do your content creation can transform your business. To do this kind of work well, it takes a tremendous amount of time, and if you add this to the list of things you are doing as a business, other projects are sure to fall behind. If and when that happens, you as the head of the company are sure to start stressing.
But for this strategy to work, you need to, once again, trust those you are asking to do the work. Ask around for quality service providers and don’t be afraid to ask for samples or trials. If you outsource work and then end up having to breathe down the neck of whichever firm you’ve hired, the outsourcing has not really served its purpose. You really want this to be a turnkey situation—hand over the work and let it go until it’s done.
Take a Break. Disconnect.
This last one goes for anyone, really. But it is especially relevant for busy entrepreneurs. As the head of the company, it may be difficult for you to take a real vacation. Either you can’t get away, or when you do, your phone is ringing constantly as people ask you questions or clue you in on problems they are having. But this doesn’t mean you can’t disconnect.
Your business may be your passion, but you need to find time to step away, otherwise, it will consume you, stress you out beyond repair and ultimately damage your health and that of your business. Pick a day of the week, or a time in each day, and reserve it just for you. Silence your phone, leave your laptop in its bag and do something not work related that you genuinely enjoy.
All in all, the secret to not burning out as a busy entrepreneur is to try to control your bandwidth. You can’t do everything, so identify what absolutely needs to be done by you, and then find ways to have someone (or something) do all the rest. This, of course, does not mean you check out and forget about these things. Instead, it just means you withdraw from the day-to-day, nitty-gritty activities, focusing on the high-level stuff that is going to help bring your business to the next level.