The allure of being your own boss may sound very appealing, but it is without doubt that starting a successful business will require you to work harder than you ever did, or would have, in a corporate role.
My first few months as a full-time entrepreneur were spent relishing the fact that I could do what I pleased with my time, and trying my best to look busy.
One piece of advice I wish I had in the beginning is that structure is everything, so below are some tips for you to add structure to your entrepreneurial life.
1. There’s comfort in familiarity
Having routine activities not only adds structure to your life, it also helps your brain get used to tapping into different states of productivity at set times of each day.
One positive aspect of having a nine-to-five job is that you are forced to be productive during certain hours of each day, and because the brain is also a muscle, it grows into that particular habit.
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2. Work ON your business, not just IN it
Although working towards having a great product or service offering, and ensuring that you deliver on the value proposition should be your main concerns as an entrepreneur starting out, it is critical to work ON your business as much as you do IN it.
Working on your business entails taking time out each day to re-evaluate points such as your strategy in entering the market, market growth prospects, ideating around new and innovative ways to attract more business, and spending time out of the office because that is where your most valuable lessons will be learnt.
3. Health is Wealth
A healthy mind and body go hand in hand. To this effect, be sure not to forget to eat well, do some exercise and sleep well.
As romanticised as the idea of ‘burning the midnight oil’ may be, not forgetting those irritating “while you were sleeping” social media posts, the reality is that sleeping well results in you being more alert and in a better position to optimise productivity in your daily activities.
4. Your NETWORK is your NETWORTH
The value of intentionally spending more time out of the office is that you are sure to meet new people. Always be ready to share your offering and value proposition in one sentence; surround yourself with smart people who will argue with you; and network as much as possible.
5. If it’s not leading you closer to the mountain top, don’t do it
In his famous 2012 commencement speech titled ‘Make Good Art’, Neil Gaiman advises that you imagine your big hairy audacious goal (the notorious BHAG) as being the summit of a big mountain.
Using this vision, evaluate whether or not an activity is getting you closer to, or further away from reaching this summit before taking it on. Although each business has its nuances, and there is no ‘cookie cutter’ approach to deciding how to allocate your time, I have found this approach very effective in making decisions about what work to take on and how I spend my time.