When people start their entrepreneurial journey they are excited about being their own boss, working where and when they choose and being in control of their own income.
Getting to choose clients and projects they love.
After a few months the reality sets in. They start to realise that they have created themselves another job.
One that sucks up all their time and energy.
One they can’t easily walk away from.
The trick is to build a business, not another job.
What they don’t realize, is that there is a huge difference between building a business and being self-employed.
Business owners scale their income. Self-employed people trade dollars for hours
Business owners leverage the skills and talents of others. Self-employed people rely only on their own skills.
Discouraged yet? Don’t be. Every business owner started out self-employed.
Just don’t stay there.
These tips will help you build a sustainable business instead of just another job.
Don’t Try to Do It All Yourself
Building a sustainable business requires that you leverage the talents and time of others. While it might seem cost-effective to simply do everything yourself—especially in the start-up phase when you likely have more time than money—it’s a path to burnout and stress.
I remember reading about a woman who set up a pie shop. She would get up at 3 in the morning to bake the pies and wouldn’t get home until 9 at night after closing up and doing her books. That isn’t a business, that is more of a prison sentence. She hated her business.
Instead, separate your tasks into those that you love and are especially suited for (such as marketing, or web design) and those you dislike and aren’t good at.
Then make a solid plan to get those that you aren’t good at off your list of things to do.
If you feel like you can’t afford to outsource it all right now, start with what you tend to procrastinate the most on, even if it’s just a few hours each month.
You could even work out your hourly rate, then any task that you can hire someone for less than your hourly rate you should do.
One way that has helped me prioritise my work is to use the Eisenhower matrix. This matrix separates tasks into urgent and important and has helped me eliminate tasks I felt I should do in place of tasks that I needed to do.
Don’t Allow Yourself to Work All the Time
The trouble with working at home is that you live at work. And that means that there’s no clear line in the sand between your work day and your home life.
Since there’s always work to do, it’s easy to find yourself working every available moment—often to the detriment of your family relationships.
I often hear myself saying to the boys, “I’ll send one more email and I’ll be with you”. Sound familiar?
You can help avoid this by:
- Setting—and maintaining—clear work hours
- Having an office with a door you can close when you’re done
- Scheduling time for family and other activities
- Taking time for yourself
Vacations and Downtime Are Important
Don’t create a business that requires you to be “in the office” every day. At the start, you may need to be available more, but you should definitely be planning for the day when you can be “off the grid” for extended periods of time.
Build a business that doesn’t need you at the helm.
- Have trusted contractors who can handle things when you’re not available
- Leverage automation tools such as autoresponders
- Create templates and checklists for you and your team to use
- Create repeatable systems so you’re not always re-inventing the wheel
While you might not be able to go outback with no internet access for weeks at a time, at the very least you should be able to reduce your workload to a minimum daily check-in.
Sound impossible? It’s not. With some forethought and planning, you can create a team—and the systems they need—to successfully run your business without becoming overwhelmed and overworked.