STARTING AND MANAGING A BUSINESS FOR PROFITS AND WEALTH
Part 16: THE WORK SMART ENTREPRENEUR
Most of us realize that becoming a successful entrepreneur requires one to put in a lot of hard work into your idea, venture or business. Yet we also realize that there are many who does that and still have not accomplish much. We begin to realize that to be successful as an entrepreneur takes more than just sheer hard work, diligence and dedication. Granted that these are important qualities but then we are also aware that there are many who worked very hard but never seem to make much progress.
We also realize that the outstanding entrepreneurs and those who fail all have one thing in common; they all have only 24 hours a day. We can safely concluded that what they put their time to, determine their success.
In a very competitive business environment, the challenge we have as entrepreneurs is to be able to achieve results in lesser time or to achieve better results within the time we have, or better still, better results in lesser time. Under such demanding situations one has got to take another look at the way we do things.
The issue these days is no longer how much work or items or jobs we can complete in a day. After all… work can never really be completed. There are always more things to do. The issue now is how much result can we achieve in a normal workday. The key is to think in terms of results, not just the number of items or jobs done.
The ability to get a lot of work done could mean that one is fairly efficient. But being efficient is not enough… the way to success lies in effectiveness. The question becomes: how effective are you? What is the difference?
Efficiency relates to performing a particular task within a certain performance criteria, eg. see three customers in a day. Effectiveness involves determining what should be done and how results can be best achieved. So to be effective we ask…which customer should we give our time to? What do we want to achieve with each customer? Is there another way to do achieve that? How do we measure the success of each visit? The effective entrepreneur focuses on the results. The hard working entrepreneur focus on getting things done
In short, I suggest that we work smarter and not just harder. The question is how?
1. Keep focus on objective and results. In whatever work you’re doing, two questions should always be kept in mind;
a) What is the objective?
b) What results do I want to get out of this?
This is necessary, particularly when one is under pressure. There are some who end up in a frenzy, rushing about and in great haste, getting what appears to be work… done. The concentration is on completing rather than achieving. The focus on results will not be there and ultimately, results will not be achieved. As they say, much ado about nothing.
One also finds this deficiency common among new entrepreneurs who migrate from a job to a business. They are often hard workers but they may lose sight of what they have to achieve. They often lose sight of their goals and get caught up with “busi-ness”.
It is important therefore, to know how to differentiate between activities and results. Activities does not always guarantee results especially if we lose sight of its purpose and its measurement of success … which leads to Principle No. 2.
2. Challenge the “obvious” and be creative. Challenge the “obvious” because nothing remains static for long. Circumstances changes, so do the environment and the people and even the objectives. One should always test and challenge what appears to be obvious.
With objectives and results to be achieved in mind, one could always look for a better way to do things. This can be done by releasing oneself from the norm and the accepted while keeping focused on what needs to be achieved. Keep asking” how can I do this better, easier, faster?” I call this the Kaizen mentality
The idea is to be creative while remaining purposeful. Being creative brings out the best in you and will set you apart from the rest… most of whom could be just simply hard working entrepreneurs.
3. Focus on what counts; the 80-20 rule. Some of you may be familiar with Pareto’s Principle which states that “80 percent of the value of a group of items is generally concentrated in only 20 percent of the items.” For instances, 80 percent of the sales of a business would probably come from 20 percent of the customers. In the case of phone calls, 80 percent of your calls would come from 20 percent of your callers.
If you find it difficult to disagree with Vifredo Pareto, you will therefore agree that 80 percent of your effectiveness comes from achieving 20 percent of the work to be done.
Smart entrepreneurs know that it is not the number of things you do every day that determines your success but the number of things that you do which generate results that will determine your success.
In short, spend 80 percent of your time on 20 percent of the work that will bring 80 percent of the results. It is foolhardy to try to do everything. Just do the right things the right way. But of course, you have to know which are the important items that constitute the 20 percent and which the 80 percent. If you don’t know it, you must find out.
4. Manage your time. There is a proliferation of books and seminars on time management and all of them have one principle in common. The principle is best expressed by Benjamin Franklin who said, “If you want to enjoy the greatest luxuries in life – of having enough time to rest, think things through, get things done and know that you have done them to the best of your ability – there is only one way: TAKE TIME TO THINK AND PLAN ACTIVITIES IN THE ORDER OF THEIR IMPORTANCE.
The key to better time management, better life and eventually better health is to learn to prioritize. Prioritizing is an exercise in determining what’s more important and getting them done.
One should guide one’s daily life in terms of priorities. To this end, one should consider:
a) Making a daily list of things to do. The famous TO DO list is a well-known and proven tool, but it takes determination to make it work for you. And it will only work if the list is based on the priority of things to do.
b) Stop procrastinating. Procrastination is a common disease that brings other diseases, such as ulcers and heart diseases that are due to stress. The idea is to make everyday in your life meaningful and not to waste it by procrastinating. There’s no time to say you don’t have time. It’s just an excuse because it is a question of priority.
c) Learn to say no. The smart entrepreneur knows how to say no. Steve Jobs famously says” I am proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do. Innovation comes from saying no to 1000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much”
If you can’t say no because you have to please others at your own expense, then you have to live by that decision. If you decide to put away your own priorities for others, that may be well and good. There’s certainly a time and place for that but the ability to say no may just save you from the deluge of obligations that you have reaped for yourself. The trick is learning how to say no and yet remain pleasant. It’s difficult, but very possible.
a) Delegate. The entrepreneur who tries to do every thing himself is surely going to head towards a disaster. It will be the death of your effectiveness as an entrepreneur. You can’t hope to achieve results all by yourself. Learning to extend results from what you yourself can do to what you can control is a smart entrepreneur’s key tool.
5. Know yourself. This principle calls for you to
Know your strengths and weaknesses.
Know what you like.
Know what you want.
Ultimately you should find a business that utilize your strengths and that you love. Confucius once said: “Find a job you love and you will never have to work for the rest of your life.”
If you love what you do, you will do well in it. The smart entrepreneur is a happy entrepreneur… she knows what she loves and wants, she does what she loves and she does it with greater effectiveness and productivity. She’s working smart. Are you?
Working Smart Principle No.3
Focus 80% of your time on 20% of the work that gives
you 80% of the Results