10 Entrepreneurs Share their Productivity Formulas for 2021
Businesses all over the world have found creative ways to stay productive and even succeed despite the pandemic and remote working environments. That can and should be your reality for 2021.
Reality for entrepreneurs and people in the workplace has been warped, to say the least. According to the World Economic Forum, more than 70% of start-ups have had to sack full-time employees since the beginning of the Covid crisis.
Source: World Economic Forum
The Covid crisis. It would always be the main topic of discussion in the meantime. And why not? Every single person I know has been affected in one way or the other by the pandemic. Social distancing and isolation, the lethal threat to health and existence, and an oh so unstable economy have literally swept the world by feet.
The experience has been particularly daunting for entrepreneurs and new businesses. At least 58% of small to medium businesses worldwide experienced a decline in sales last year.
I personally felt sapped beyond my limits last year. And I'm sure most business owners can relate to this. Having to adapt to an immediately volatile business climate was very demanding and discouraging. I'm certain more than a few of us were really tempted to drop out of the race.
Hopefully that didn't become a reality, because here's the thing, amidst all the gore, there are still opportunities, spaces, and ways for entrepreneurs to thrive. In fact, the rate at which people attempted to create businesses last year was the highest in the U.S since 2007.
Source: Legal Zoom
Businesses all over the world have found creative ways to stay productive and even succeed despite the pandemic and remote working environments. That can and should be your reality for 2021. You can get back on track and keep producing results. You just need the right mindset and the right knowledge.
Learn from these successful and promising entrepreneurs as they share tips on how to stay productive and achieve success. Their formulas can help you have a fantastic year despite the challenges:
1 -- Entrepreneurship Works by Adapting Through Endless Learning
Owning and growing a business is never a smooth ride. That's an understatement. Entrepreneurship is a long, hilly dirt road with numerous bumps and dips. You're supposed to run into ditches and gradually learn how to adapt to the absence of gravel.
That's the beauty of it. Learning the necessary skills and knowledge you need to adapt, to evolve -- finding the problem worth solving. The most successful CEOs use even the most overwhelming difficulties as learning curves.
Instead of buckling down under the pressure, use failure and uncertain situations as channels for developing and learning new practices and information you previously didn't have.
Challenges should be a trigger to get desperate and look for ways to take advantage of the market's trends. They should be a reminder to remain conscious of consumers' satisfaction even in the face of changes.
The businesses that thrived during Covid did exactly this. They learned how to derive useful information from the trends and "take advantage of the disaster".
Co-Founder and CEO of web analytics company, AllFactors, Helena Ronis, believes this level of resilience and adapting is a success secret for entrepreneurs:
“The secret to success as a tech entrepreneur is resilience and constant learning. You’ll always have moments of stress or disappointment when some things don’t work as you expected. Instead of being down, an entrepreneur should take it as an opportunity to learn and figure out why things are not working, and how to improve them. That’s the formula to finding success.”
2 -- Make the Hard and Important Decisions
Oftentimes, our ideas and inclinations turn out to be unnecessary distractions and productivity holes.
Being an entrepreneur means consciously and constantly deciding to stick to your priorities, every second of the day. And of course, your priorities are made after you have analyzed and determined the most important course of action for your business.
Having the linear sight to avoid distractions and stay focused on your goal will only result in constant productivity, especially in the long term. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg thinks that being able to resist alluring ideas is key:
“Lots of times you have very good ideas. But they’re not as good as the most important thing you could be doing. And you have to make the hard choices.”
3 -- Just Do It!
You may think that you're not ready because your business idea or plan is not perfect enough. That's a notion that plagues a lot of green entrepreneurs. And the truth is most of them don't end up getting many substantial things done. Because guess what? There's no such thing as the perfect idea in business.
The secret to productivity is not just in the planning and your willingness or ability to take the required pre-steps, it's in your execution.
The combination of fearing failure and waiting for the perfect moment would just waste your time, drown your motivation and erase a competitive headstart you might otherwise have gotten.
Whether it's managing a tech startup, building a website, running a consultation, building an online store or creating a course, etc, it doesn't matter how much data analysis and market research you do, you're not going to be very productive if you spend too much time in your planning stages.
Here's what Moritz Dausinger, founder of Refiner, had to say:
"With the risk of writing common sense, I think the secret for most entrepreneurial successes lies in the execution. Good ideas are important. Talent and a great team are important. But in the end, it comes down to your ability of getting things done.
I saw it quite often. People get stuck in the ideation and planning phase. They procrastinate instead of just getting started.
Instead of chasing the perfect moment and the perfect idea, it’s better to show up every day, iterate, and push the project forward – step by step. It takes time, but things compound and it’s amazing what you can achieve when you stick to something.
Nobody I know launched a perfect product. In hindsight, the products and websites I launched were all pretty embarrassing in the beginning to be honest.
However, having something real that you can show to customers is worth much more than the perfect idea which only exists in your head. Having something tangible in front of you allows you to get feedback, better judge its usefulness, and make it better every day."
4 -- Take Notes of Everything
Writing down your thoughts, plans and ideas really helps to declutter your mind and find clarity as to your next action.
This is probably something you've heard a million times, but simply just haven't put into practice. You might want to change that, because it actually works.
Several successful entrepreneurs have testified that they feel closer to their goals when they write things down.
It's a great habit to take if you're suffering a creative block. Ross Beyeler, COO of Trellis Commerce, believes it helps to recognize patterns and release feelings of being overburdened:
“Sometimes, the best way to quiet the mind is to write everything down. A free-form jotting of thoughts, feelings, and ideas can be quite cathartic. It also provides a record available during reflection to see if there is any correlation between moods and progress in your business.”
5 -- Stay Courageous
Courage at even the most daunting moments is what makes things happen. Courage to believe in our ideas and do things our own way.
Your level of courage will determine if you can pick up the pieces from last year and continue to plug on. It will determine if you can take criticism for your new, strange ideas and still go ahead to implement them.
It's the courage to take the unplowed path that makes branding so exciting and innovative. It's how the best businesses stay relevant and productive all year round. Over time, your courage will build the zeal you need to keep setting tasks and producing results constantly.
Fashion Designer Vera Wang knows a lot more about this than most. She started her bridal boutique, Vera Wang, at the late age of 40, against the odds and is now one of the most successful figures in her field. Here's her advice:
"Courage is a large part of the creative process. Fashion grew out of my need to express myself and challenge the status quo".
6 -- Try Not to Do Everything Yourself
Business owners can tend to be control freaks. That's pretty understandable. We have our own elaborate plans for how things should turn out so it's hard to trust others to deliver results.
But trying to do everything yourself can lead to feeling swamped and quite possibly burning out. Try adding the effects of a pandemic to that workload.
Delegating is a vital action any entrepreneur looking to thrive must take. You should focus on having a good, reliable team that can take on most of the tasks you always worry about.
If you've done that, then assign relevant duties to them and trust that they would deliver. Your work schedule would thank you for this.
Daisy Jing, founder and CEO of Banish says it would help you focus on your more imminent duties:
“Time is valuable, so you should only spend it on things only you and no one else from your team can do. Similarly, know your weaknesses. Delegate things that you’re not really good at. That way, you can focus on more important things that you should do.
It’s best to find the suitable person for each role in your company, so you can trust that your team’s work will pass your standards.”
7 -- Prioritize Your Tasks
Completing the most important things you have to do first is a big step to having an efficient day. After having done this, you can now move onto the smaller priority tasks.
As an entrepreneur, this type of planning will boost your time management and productivity and keep you focused throughout the day.
Diana Goodwin, founder and CEO of MarketBox says it really works for her:
“My number 1 secret is to block out time on my calendar first thing in the morning to work on the most important task on my to-do list. Once I’ve completed that task, I know that no matter what other distractions may pop up, I’ve accomplished something that will move my business ahead.”
8 -- Find a Way to Stand Out
Whether it's through your brand, your business strategy, your company culture and roster, your product or your service, finding ways to stand out from your competition will really build the momentum and creative outlet you need to keep going as a business.
Customer surveys and market research can give you an idea of possible holes you can fill to create your unique advantage.
Larry Kim, CEO and Founder of Mobile Monkey believes in having a unique asset your competitors don't have, be it the quality of your staff, or a uniqueness in your product:
“The key is to always find or be the unicorn in a sea of donkeys. If you’re hiring a candidate to complete your team, look for someone that stands out from the crowd, someone who’s delusional, someone who’s willing to try anything and everything and is obsessed over results. The same is true when promoting your products: you need to look for that one growth hack that will blow up eye-popping results. If you find it, then replicate it, double down on it. Keep promoting the asset as long as it keeps delivering results.”
9 -- Find Time to Disengage and Recharge
Every entrepreneur should have periods where they release themselves from everything and clear their heads.
It's vital. It helps to recharge and prepare your mind for your next tasks. It might mean anything from having to disable your notifications to taking time from the office or simply finding time to exercise or do relevant, relaxing things that are not work-related.
Whatever it is, finding a process that helps you reset and ease the stress is really important for your productivity. Kevin Telford, solution leader at Mckinsey and Company totally agrees:
“I find meditation, riding my bike, or going for a long walk to be something I need to do at the end of almost all work days to help me disengage. Other folks may find running, cooking dinner, praying, going to the gym, or simply playing with their kids is what they need.
I believe you need to create routines with non-work activities to train your mind to turn off, so it can recharge for the next day.”
10 -- Find a Tool to Streamline Your Tasks and Communication Channels
It becomes so much easier for your business to function and produce results when you use a tool or software that integrates functionality for your tasks in one platform and offers seamless communication across these channels.
It's a go-to for businesses with diverse marketing and communication channels and mass software functionality.
“My business has clients, vendors, independent contractors, and full-time folks all trying to communicate, and it (Monday.com) has streamlined our Slack, email, and file management tools into one centralized (and colorful) dashboard that allows us to glance at a project and know where it's at.”
These productivity tips are generally applicable guides that have worked for these entrepreneurs and should certainly work for you. However, you also have to find what makes you tick. It's great to be able to learn from the successful strategies of others but at the end of the day, really understanding yourself and discovering what works for you will make all the difference. This is the year so get to it!