If you listen to some entrepreneurs, they’ll talk about their 90-hour work weeks and their life bedding down in their office to meet their goals. But do you have to work hard to be a great entrepreneur?
Working hard is certainly one way to get to where you want to be, but there’s a cost: you have to dedicate a vast amount of your time and emotional energy to your business. Your company, in a sense, becomes your life, regardless of whether you’re an owner or an employee.
Our culture says that if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to work hard and put in the long-hours. But SMART entrepreneurs have a different mindset. Instead of focusing on all of the work that needs to be done, they focus on what work they need to do and what work can be done by others. They don’t focus on working harder, they focus on working smarter.
SMART entrepreneurs focus on what work they need to do and what work can be done by others.
Many entrepreneurs mistake tasks that they need to do and what tasks are crucial for their business to succeed. Keeping track of your books and spending time filling in spreadsheets to track inventory or your budget is important to know your profitability. But this doesn’t mean you have to be the one doing it. What could take weeks can be condensed into a matter of seconds by utilizing the right software.
SMART entrepreneurs know what they’re good at, their skillset, and what only they can do. They then delegate or automate everything else. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX focuses his time on what he is good at: vision and strategy. He doesn’t personally install engines in the car or take care of payroll. He relies on professionals who are skilled in that area to do it.
Their are important reasons SMART entrepreneurs choose not to work hard. The main one is quality of life. The top reason entrepreneurs start their businesses is to be their own boss and raise their quality of life. Nobody sets up a company with the goal of working longer at lower wages with no end in sight.
There’s another practical reason why SMART entrepreneurs don’t work hard: it gets in the way of their creativity. Burnout is the fastest way to destroy the passion and ideas you have for a project. If you are emotionally drained, you are far less likely to come up with innovative products or services.
Okay, so let’s say that you don’t want to work hard all day long and risk burnout. What should you do? Take a look at some of the ways that entrepreneurs can work smart.
If you’re the kind of perfectionist who spends hours fiddling with your design format and pictures on presentations until 2 am, then you’re not working smarter. It is important for your brand to ensure that your marketing products look professional and sleek. There are now online software tools that will help do this for you.
You can check out Beautiful.AI’s rich icon library to automatically adjust and design your boxes, text, and photos for you in attractive ways, saving you significant amount of time. You can now create presentations without having to do any time-consuming and expensive design work.
Growing Your Network
One of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make is thinking that they have to do the operational work themselves, rather than handing it over to somebody else. The more time a founder spends on ancillary tasks that others can do, the less time they have to do the real value-added stuff such as taking advantage of important opportunities.
Taking advantage of opportunities in a SMART way is crucial to your success. Opportunities however are tied to people. So if you are looking for an opportunity, you are actually looking for a person. How do you find the right people?
Grow your network and join organizations. Don’t join organizations though just for the sake of growing your network, join them with the goal of helping and adding value. People will know if you are there to just take.
Combine Your Interests With Your Work
One of the reasons Bill Gates created Microsoft was because he loved computers. He tinkered with personal computers throughout his childhood and teenage years in the 1970s and eventually went on to found one of the most successful tech firms of all time.
Gates proved that entrepreneurs could combine what they love with what they do and create true value. In fact, many gurus would argue that this is the best strategy for today’s crop of leaders. Not only does it provide strong motivation, but then you are living to work, not working to live.
Doing what you love helps you get through the tough times. It also helps you look at work not as a chore, but almost as a hobby, doing something you enjoy. How do you know what your passions are? If you feel guilty for being paid because you love doing it so much, then that is your passion!
Re-Energize, Rejuvenate, Rest
Life on the frontlines of an business can be tough. You have to deal with issues every day, from customer complaints, operational issues to employee issues such as some stealing from company accounts. All of these problems can cause stress.
Entrepreneurs, just like everyone else, need to take some time to re-energize. That doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing or taking a month off work. It means that you plan for interruptions and rest throughout the work day. Our bodies are not robots, we need to listen to our bodies, and replenish our energy levels as needed.
When you are well rested, you are more effective. If you are not used to doing this, you may guilty at first, but rest is crucial to “sharpening your saw”. Think of chopping wood with a dull ax. It will take significantly more energy and time to cut down a tree as opposed to a very sharp ax.
SMART entrepreneurs know that being well-rested means not having to work as hard over the long-run. They are fresh, more effective, and are able to do more with a full energy gas tank!