The daily grind of running a small business can take its toll on the busy entrepreneur. Whether you've just set up your venture or you're guiding your business to growth, a few well-wrought strategies can make your life easier and prevent burnout. Here's a look at a few.
1. Don't spend more than nine hours in office
What time do you leave work? Doing 12 hours or burning the midnight oil is exhausting, and a common reason for health problems in entrepreneurs. A number of well-known business leaders are known to leave office at 5 or 6 pm everyday to be with their family. They may sneak in an hour of email-checking late at night, but for most part, the precious time is spent in the company of loved ones. Some Silicon Valley companies allow employees the flexibility to either work 9-to-5 or take day breaks for personal activities and log in from home in the evenings. See what works for you and create a schedule around it.
2. Ensure a work-life balance
It can be hard to stick to a schedule when you only have product development, sales, team-building and miscellaneous work activities on your mind. Quite possibly, you may be carrying work stress home. Try not to think about work when you get home; actually stop being an entrepreneur when you step into your car after work, and focus on what you enjoy doing outside of work.
If you're a parent, catch up on what your child is up to at school or plan date night with your partner. Indulge in your hobby, go on nature walks to shake off tension from your body and mind, or meet up with friends. If you don't enjoy any of these things, relax at home or a spa, read a good book, or spend some doing anything but thinking about work. While these suggestions may seem basic, they're hard to follow if you've been ignoring your personal life for a long time. Make a habit of devoting time to personal errands and commitments, and you'll find an easy balance along the way.
3. Consider automation
Automating repetitive tasks is one of the easiest ways to save time, improve productivity and alleviate the stress of multi-tasking. Some ideas for automation include:
- An auto-payment process for paying bills and avoiding late fees.
- Apps or tools to schedule and manage recurring tasks, including routine to-dos, running weekly meetings, resharing messages, and creating finance reports.
- Using social media scheduling, analytics and management tools like DrumUp or BuzzSumo.
- Using automatic data backup solutions for your laptop and smartphone.
- Leveraging apps like IFFT (If This, Then That) to set up automatic processes.
4. Hire the right people
Top CEOs have been known to hire people who're better than them. The strategy is to put the best possible candidates in responsible positions and not worry about managing people and processes all by themselves. As business expenses associated with recruitment can be significantly large, it makes practical sense to be fully involved in the process and make the right hiring judgments. The extra time, energy and investment you expend on head-hunting, recruiting and retaining top talent will offer you the confidence and peace of mind that there's someone other than you to manage business affairs dedicatedly.
5. Don't hesitate to delegate
Continuing on from the point above, avoid micromanaging work activities and people so much that you have little time left for core business activities. Every pending task will make you worry a little bit more, and you will end up spending more time in the office than you had anticipated. If you get into the cycle of managing tasks that can be easily delegated to a manager or a senior, experienced employee, you will always be time-poor.
6. Find a mentor
Sometimes, a mentor can be a valuable source of advice when you want a second opinion or experience-driven insights. Find a mentor – a seasoned entrepreneur or management consultant – who can give you actionable tips and help you make judicious decisions. The best mentor-mentee relationships are formed organically, so don't hesitate to network at forums, your local Chamber of Commerce, fund-raising galas and relevant industry events to discover professionals willing to help you unselfishly.
7. Foster a caring corporate culture
A lack of employee motivation is a big threat to the company's quality as well as the rate of turnover. If you make employees feel cared for and make the workplace engaging and rewarding, there is a good chance they will feel empowered to do their best and not think of switching jobs very soon. Focus groups, meetings, team outings and other employee-focused initiatives go a long way in fostering a positive work environment. You don't have to worry about toxic employees, high turnover, sluggish sales or poor customer satisfaction.
8. Don't overthink
Though the devil is in the details, and the small ones need due consideration, obsessing over those that seldom have any significant impact is a waste of time. The other kind of overthinking is to push a big task until you've figured out all its parts and sub-parts. This often leads to procrastination, where you get nothing done at the end of the day. A more rational approach would be to take small bites out of the big task, and tackle problems one at a time, so you've made progress and feel energized to blaze ahead with the rest of it.
9. Plan your day in advance
An advantage of assigning specific activities to the five days of the week is that you won't waste time on less-important tasks that someone else could have easily handled. You can keep the focus on the tasks you've set out to accomplish, whether it is a meeting with clients or managers, a research and development-related activity, or an employee town hall.
10. Maintain a positive mindset
There will always be ups and downs in business. There is no point in feeling dejected about factors you cannot control; rather, do your best given the circumstances and the things you can control. A healthy attitude and balanced approach to wins and losses will keep dejection at bay and help you think with a fresh, optimistic mind.
There are just a few options for you to help ease the stress of owning a business. Do you have more ideas? Tell us in the comments below.