What leads to exhaustion and sleepless nights in the lives of entrepreneurs? Many of these problems can be avoided by simply applying some time-tested principles employed by successful leaders. I created a list of these based on dozens of interviews with small business owners over the last few years.
1. We waste our time! We think that we are saving precious money by doing everything ourselves. We perform many routine business functions, even in areas where we are incompetent. This leads to mistakes, missed deadlines, and exhaustion. Lesson: Learn to spend 80% of your time doing what benefits your organization the most. Delegate expertly.
2. We spend our time on the wrong things! If you are bleeding to death from a deep cut on your leg, you should not worry about the mole on your back. That gushing cut on your leg is going to kill you in one minute. Fix that right now! We see this in businesses all the time. An example is one buddy of mine who is compulsive about his website, when about 5% of his sales come from that. Meanwhile, he is under performing in his outside sales department. The outside sales department is the part of his business that provides 95% of his sales and profit. He is simply obsessed with his website, and he dislikes dealing with his sales staff. Ask yourself these questions: “What are my top 3 priorities today?” and “What are my top 3 critical goals for this week?” Lesson: Concentrate your energy and your time on the things that will help your business the most. Write them down, focus on them, and update them daily.
3. We don’t have the right support team in our business! My friend said, “I can’t really depend on Sarah to do the bookkeeping right, but she has been with me for 14 years.” So he redoes half of Sarah’s job after she finishes. The reality is that my friend needs to get Sarah more training, move Sarah to a different department, or show Sarah the door. By allowing her to be there, he is sabotaging his future and that of his entire company. Lesson: Have the best people you can find in key jobs, train them well, and be able to trust their work.
4. We work too much! How can you possibly have the energy and focus you need if you work 6 or 7 days a week, and 8 to 12 hours per day? You won’t have the vision and the energy that you need to be able to focus on key business activities if you overwork yourself. Besides, what is the point of having a successful business if you have nothing else? All will suffer if you don’t have enough time off to recharge your batteries and enjoy life. Lesson: Time off is a key benefit for you, your family, and your business.
5. We don’t charge enough money for our services or products! We let our products and services become a commodity. This is almost universal with struggling entrepreneurs. If you let competitors set your prices because you think you have to beat or match them on price, you are doomed! If your offerings, way of doing business, or ways of serving the customer do not offer an advantage to the customers that is worth the money you need to charge, then you are destined to fail. Work very hard to establish a set of rock-solid reasons why and how you are worth more than the others in your marketplace. Lesson: Charge the right amount of money for what you do or what you sell. Be worth the money you charge.