Productivity Hacks for Entrepreneurs
Starting a business is one of the most challenging tasks that anyone can come across in this life. In addition to passion and talent, one requires consistency and several hacks in order for their business to stay above the waters. Here are some tips which can help you as an entrepreneur to not only start, but to also stay in business!
Identify a Real Problem (and Solve It!)
“A problem well stated is a problem half solved” -John Dewey
This point can never be over emphasized. Problem solving is the bedrock of entrepreneurship itself. Being a creative entrepreneur, it is easy for one to fall in love with the creative process as well as the output. This is adorable only if you don’t intend to make money from your creative talent. Outside that, one needs to have a business that brings actual value, and there is no other way to do it without solving a specific problem. As such, it is important for an entrepreneur to identify a particular market for your business. Many entrepreneurs find themselves in a fix by claiming that “everybody is their customer”. As ambitious as this sounds, the truth is you barely have the resources to effectively service every market, hence the need to specialize as you start out.
Have a Vision (Complete the picture before you begin the journey!)
“Begin with the end in mind” -Stephen Covey
Building an enterprise requires a lot of work and effort. That being said, it is important for one to know the purpose and intended outcome of the effort and resources being invested. A vision is a mental picture of the reality one wishes to see, and it should be so clear in order to make the intended result real! Clearly articulating the vision for one’s enterprise is important for both organisation and motivational purposes. Proper visioning guides one in terms of the endeavours to be pursued and those to be foregone. As such, a clear vision communicates the businesses’ values and goals, something which is critical in motivating both financial and non-financial resources.
Set Goals, SMART ones!
“The problem of not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score” -Bill Copeland
Without a measure of what success looks like, it is easy for one to deceive themselves into thinking they are achieving. This is a phenomenon that is quite common with a lot of young entrepreneurs. Too often, many people fall into the trap of being “busy” but with no tangible results, or a yardstick that gives one an indicator of how achieving a target is defined. Putting the “SMART” acronym (Specific Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound) will go a long way in putting one’s house in order!
It’s important for any entrepreneur hoping to achieve success to monitor and evaluate how well or how badly they are doing based on set targets. Rather than waiting until things get out of hand, routine monitoring allows one to make adjustments that bring back the business on course by dumping strategies that do not work, and amplifying the use of those that are proving useful.
Have an Actionable Plan
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success” -Pablo Picasso
It is often said that failing to plan is planning to fail. Furthermore, it’s not enough to just plan, in order to see actual results in your business the plan must be actionable, and as an entrepreneur, you must be willing to act! The importance of having an actionable plan is demonstrated in entrepreneurship competitions and seeking start up finance from funders such as banks. It matters not how exciting your business idea seems, if you cannot demonstrate how results can be obtained, potential funders find no justification for giving you resources. Even in instances where the funding is a grant, entrepreneurs with credible and actionable plans, along with a minimum viable product, usually stand tall above the rest.
Be Willing to Invest in Your Dreams
“If you invest nothing, the reward is worth little”-Richelle E. Goodrich
There is no better demonstration of seriousness and commitment to your business than investing in it. This does not refer to monetary investment only, as most entrepreneurs often rush to cite access to finance as a challenge. While finance is a real challenge, as a business owner one can invest through skills, and boot strapping. Once one starts investing in his/her own business, not only will it grow but he/she will also take it seriously. Whether it’s using your personal savings to fund operations, outsourcing tasks or investing sweat capital, you will want to ensure that every effort you’ve put will yield value. As a rational person, your intuition is to put your resources to the best use possible. You will therefore work harder and smarter to attain results without wasting resources.
Surround Yourself with the Right People
“Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher” -Oprah Winfrey
As a founder, you are the custodian of the business’ vision, but you need a team of people to help you as you cannot do everything by yourself. For your business to have meaningful growth, you cannot just pick anybody for this job. The journey to being an entrepreneur is a tough road, and for it to be easier it requires one to be surrounded by a team of people who understand and are committed enough to the vision well in order to see it through. The temptation for many entrepreneurs is to bring in their friends as business partners or the founding team. While this might look like a good idea, if your team of friends do not have the competences which are necessary to take the business vision forward, this will not help you or your business. Ideally, their competences should also not be those that are exactly like yours as this would not provide any value for your business.