Is this what being an entrepreneur is about?”
There are times (yes, even now) when I wonder what I signed up for by becoming my own boss. Having a “regular” job is easier in so many ways: there is a lot of stuff you don’t have to worry about – tech support, office supplies, overheads – and you can just show up, get your work done, and get paid.
And then I remind myself that having a “regular” job also means there is a lot of stuff you DO have to worry about: climbing a wobbly corporate ladder, office politics, awkward bosses, incompetence at different levels, and not being in control of your fate. All of those big picture things are why I didn’t get a “regular” job after finishing business school. I wanted something else.
So whenever I find myself getting wistful about my “past life”, I know there must be something I need to fix in my business. I know that my nostalgia is triggered by something that is frustrating me, and that’s when I go back to the drawing board.
Because inevitably, my frustration stems from one of a few things: I am doing something I hate, something isn’t working properly, or I can’t see how what I am doing is having a measurable impact on my business. So I take the signals and sit down to see what I need to Delegate, Automate, or Eliminate.
What this means in practice is that I take my notebook and write down all of the activities I am doing. This is also where Tracking my Stats comes in handy because I have an accurate picture of everything I have been doing and how long it’s taken me. (I Track my Stats every day.)
I look at the list and then do an honest appraisal of the activities, and group them into activities that I can: delegate to someone else (and take the frustration away… remember, what you hate, others might love, and vice versa), automate to lessen my cognitive load, or eliminate (these are the low-value tasks that are doing nothing for my business).
From a list of, say, 15 things, there are usually only a few that don’t have an obvious “home” in one of the three categories. These might be activities that I just have to suck it up and do (being your own boss doesn’t mean you are in your happy place all the time), BUT by delegating, automating, and eliminating everything else, I have more head space and time to do the tasks that are still on my plate.
Do you see how valuable it can be to spend some time thinking carefully about what you do every day? Not only can you save time by delegating, automating, or eliminating, you conserve your energy for more important (or exciting) things AND you are constantly improving your performance and your business’s performance by making sure that you’re not doing things you’re not good at or that you’re letting someone else (or a process) get things done faster and more automatically than you would.
Our days are busy, we have so much to do, and by clinging to things that we can delegate, automate, or eliminate, we only create micro-frustrations for ourselves all day long. Carrying cognitive loads can be exhausting, decision fatigue is a real thing that affects performance, so why not get rid of the things that you can?
Anxiety is nature’s way of making us decide. You can use your frustrations and anxiety as a catalyst for delegating, automating, or eliminating the things that bring you frustration and anxiety (delegate your bookkeeping, automate your admin, eliminate unnecessary meetings; delegate your house cleaning, automate your bill payments, eliminate bad food…). These big and small things add up over the course of a day, a week, a year, a lifetime. Running a business is hard enough, and harder when you insist on carrying all the burden yourself. So share the load.
Delegate. Automate. Eliminate.
PS – This process is continuous. You can’t just do it once and expect everything to be fixed forever. As you and your business grow, you’ll need to delegate, automate, or eliminate different things.