7 Simple Ways to be a Better Entrepreneur
BY: NELLIE AKALP ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2012
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Creating your own business and career path is not for the faint of heart. However, it is possible to thrive as an entrepreneur. While there’s no magic potion that will turn your business venture into an instant success, there are several things you can do to raise the bar. Here are seven simple things that you can implement today to be a better entrepreneur.
- Put in an extra hour before or after your day
Most people typically have certain times in the day when they’re most productive and focused. Maybe it’s between 7 and 9 am, or 9 to 11 pm. If you’re a morning person, try to get up one hour earlier and start working; likewise, night owls should put in an extra hour at night.
Learn what your ‘productivity hours’ are and use them for high priority and challenging projects. Brian Tracy’s classic time-management book Eat That Frog its title from a Mark Twain saying, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Maybe your frog is writing content for your company blog, preparing a quote for a potential client, or responding to a tricky customer request.
- Free yourself from the busy work
With cell phones, email, Twitter, and Facebook, it’s easier than ever to lose control of your schedule and priorities. In this environment, you can spend a whole day doing a lot, yet accomplishing very little.
Successful entrepreneurs know how to stay focused on their priorities in the face of all these distractions. For example, Tumblr founder David Karp aims to stay focused by not checking email until 9:30 or 10 am. Dedicate sections of the day when you unplug from the phone and/or email to get some work crossed off your to-do list. Then, log back on and power through any urgent responses.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate
It’s not always easy for highly driven entrepreneurs to give up the reigns, but it’s critical to grow your business and avoid burnout. Get help (whether a virtual assistant, part-time, or full-time employee) to help you take care of the busy work. And outsource complex issues to specialists, such as an accountant for your bookkeeping and taxes or an expert for handling your legal paperwork like incorporating and annual reports. There’s no reason why you should dedicate significant chunks of your valuable time to become an expert in tax or employee law – stay focused on core strategic, revenue-producing activities instead.
- Stop fearing failure
If you’re scared of failing, you’re probably playing it too safe as an entrepreneur. Failure is practically a rite of passage for successful entrepreneurs. Valuable lessons can be learned through the experience…lessons which you would never learn from a business class. In fact, there are some venture capitalists who won’t invest in any entrepreneur that doesn’t have at least one failed business under his or her belt.
If you find yourself nervous about what might happen, think about all the opportunities and possibilities you leave behind by not ever trying. Trying (no matter what is the outcome) is your first step toward success.
- Co-promote with other small businesses
Sometimes it’s collaboration, not competition, that can take your business to the next level. Team up with other businesses for joint marketing and selling opportunities. Get creative and look for opportunities anywhere and everywhere.
For example, if you run a local boutique shop, you can offer discounts on yoga clothing to anyone who signs up for yoga classes at a nearby studio (and vice versa). Or a local Public Relations pro who focuses on startups can collaborate with other service providers to put on a free ‘small biz bootcamp’ to their collective group of clients.
- Remember your customer
No matter what kind of products you sell or services you offer, your business is all about your customers and clients, period. In the day to day grind, it’s easy to lose yourself in product specifications, pricing strategies, competitor activities, marketing plans, and more. But at the end of the day, your customers determine the success of your business. Spend a few minutes each day focusing on who your customers are, what they want, and the major challenges they’re facing. Then get to work in fulfilling those needs better than someone else can.
- Take a day off
Being an entrepreneur is a non-stop job, but if you’re working seven days a week, you’ll probably start to burn out and lose the passion you originally had for your business. At least once per week (if not once per day!), make some time to do something you love.
Time off can open the flood gates to fresh perspectives and inspirations. Who knows, when you least expect it, you might dream up a new startup idea, think of a new way to deal with a pesky client, or come up with a new tagline. By taking some time off of work, you’ll not only end up being happier, you’ll be a better entrepreneur as well.