It’s becoming increasingly clear that working ourselves to death is not productive. More-and-more research suggests that long hours do not equal more productivity. Many executives are now doing less to increase productivity.
And yet, for those women who own 30 percent of the nation’s businesses, the demands seem like they’ve never been higher. You’re not just supposed to run your business and scale it too, you’re supposed to be super mom. Just because you’re in the midst of running a startup doesn’t mean you can miss the school play.
So how do you find a balance? Anyone who has collapsed into bed at 9 p.m. after an endless day of managing both work and home has asked themselves this question.
The answer is to work smarter, not harder.
Sure, you could push yourself to the limits—because who needs sleep, right? But really it will be better for your business and your life if you can find ways to streamline. Consider these five ways women entrepreneurs can work smarter and stop punishing themselves:
No. 1 – Let Someone Else Do the Stuff You Don’t Want To
Whatever your business is, the reason you’re doing it is likely that you’re passionate about it and you know how to make money doing it. Still, there are all these extraneous administrative things you have to do with any business, like paying taxes and handling employee payroll. If you’re giving away hours to spreadsheets and calculations, it’s time you think about using an online payroll service and investing in accounting software that makes these things easy.
No. 2 – Don’t Try To Figure Everything Out On Your Own
Too often we beat ourselves up for the things we don’t know. The secret is that everyone who has started a business has encountered countless scenarios they weren’t prepared to handle. There’s no shame in seeking some expert advice to work through these hurdles. The U.S. Small Business Administration, Micromentor.org or SCORE are great places to seek guidance. Other organizations like Ladies Who Launch and Women 2.0 can help you network and learn from other women in your situation.
No. 3 – Hire Good People
A smart team that can think a few steps ahead will do wonders for your productivity. Think about your interview process and make sure you are asking questions that truly get at the challenges your business faces. Look for people who can grow with you. Then do your research on each candidate—look for referrals, check references, do background checks.
No. 4 – Develop A Plan and Be Ready To Scrap It
It’s often a shock to entrepreneurs when their initial plan or idea isn’t working. The worst thing you can do is be stubborn and afraid to switch gears. The same thing that started your business may not be the same thing that helps it grow. Talk to your customers, understand what is working and what’s not, and maneuver quickly. This is the advantage to being a small startup.
No. 5 – Prepare Yourself Mentally For A Lack of Perfection
Those of you who can’t move forward unless every detail is just right know who you are, and it’s time to stop. Think about your goals—is perfection really one of them? Or, are you trying to make a profit, provide a service, and make a better life for you and your family? No one is keeping score. You can get where you need to go without being perfect, because the truth is there will always be something needing improvement.
It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed. There are few among us who don’t feel this way at least part of the time. The thing we need to realize is that working hard by putting in extensive hours at the expense of our personal well-being, and in a sense punishing ourselves, is not the only alternative. Believe it or not, you can actually make your business more efficient and get some hours back in return!
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