There is that aha-moment for every entrepreneur when you realize you are trying to do it all—and you can’t.
“You can’t be in your business and running your business,” a wise friend once cautioned. Everyday tasks demand your time and attention—paying the bills, meetings or phone calls, marketing to new clients. And then there’s doing the work.
But are you doing the work you love? What is uniquely yours to do? What gets more of your time and energy, the important things that will grow your business and make you happy, or the day-to-day hustle of running it all?
You started your business to deploy your professional passion and achieve a personal goal while creating an income from what you offer. But realizing your dreams take planning and commitment. By the time you turn off the office light at the end of the day (if at all) you’ve done everything for everyone else, but not much for yourself. Chances are you have de-prioritized the essential actions that will boost your bottom line, energy and happiness as an entrepreneur.
Here’s five pieces of advice to help you get back on track, so you grow your business—and yourself—by doing the work you love.
Use Your Signature Skills
For some free, quick and easy self-development, surf over to the VIA Institute on Character and take the VIA Survey. In exchange for your email address, the brief but potent assessment will provide you with a “personal profile” report of 24-character strengths.
Your business is personal to you. Using your strengths everyday separates you from the pack in the marketplace and leaves you feeling energized at the end of the day.
What to do:
Once you receive your profile, review it and ask yourself, what is not a surprise? What is a surprise? How could I be using my signature strengths more in my business? How could I develop my lesser-used strengths?
Create A Vision Of Your Best Self
Your “Best Self” is when you tap into the special quality that makes you who you are, that makes you “extraordinary,” according to researcher Robert Quinn and his colleagues.[i]
Living your Best Self may help improve your “resilience to stress and burnout, creative problem solving,” and even your emotions, according to researcher Daniel Cable and his colleagues[ii].
What to do:
Take five minutes this week to find a quiet space and write, draw or blog about your Best Self. If you’d like more help, surf over to www.priorconsulting.com and download the “Best Self” card set. Choose the 16 cards that resonate most for you. Sort the cards into a diamond shape. One card at the top—the quality that resonates most—then two in the next row, then three, then four, three, two then one. Of the 16 cards, the one at the bottom is less important.
Ask yourself, what patterns do I notice? What does this say about my vision for my Best Self? How could I bring more of my Best Self to my business?
Get Some FeedForward
FeedForward is a suggestion for future improvement, says author Marshall Goldsmith.
It’s easy to do your own assessment of your Signature Skills or Best Self, but how do you know how your clients, employees or colleagues experience you?
What to do:
Choose three people that you would like to get some FeedForward from. Ask each person three questions: What do I do well? What could I do differently in the future? Reflect on their answers and write an action plan for how you will develop your skills or bring your Best Self to your business.
Calendar The Important Things First
Recently, I worked with a client who leapt from a job she’d held for 20 years to a completely different role. Her initial excitement waned as new tasks mounted and she worried about being able to succeed. To help her get off to a great start, we identified key goals and the most important actions in the first 90-days, then plotted the actions against a calendar.
Achieving a dream begins with small, practical steps.
What to do:
Schedule a 15-minute meeting with yourself tomorrow morning. Take out some paper or your laptop and write your answers to these questions: What is something you want or need to do to grow your business? What’s holding you back? (Ground rule: your answer can’t include “time.” Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. It’s not a question of more time, it’s how you choose to allocate the hours and your energy.) What can you put on the calendar for next week to help you move forward?
Consider A Pivot
If you find that even with your most careful planning and attention that your business is running you, and not the other way around, you may have reached a tipping point. Your success may have brought you to a place where it’s time to outsource the tasks that are no longer yours to do. It may be time to run your business differently.
Your business grows when you grow. You may need to learn how to delegate or to run a part of the operation differently.
What to do:
Reflect on your answers to questions that were raised in in the first four how-to’s. Talk with a trusted colleague or friend. Write a list of the tasks you would delegate or outsource if you could. Then research resources that can work with you in-person or virtually.
Lisa Prior is the author of Take Charge of Your VIEW: Career Advice You Won’t Get from Your Boss (Nexus Impress LLC, July 2017). A 20 year veteran leadership coach and change consultant, Lisa is the founder of Prior Consulting, serving leaders and highly skilled professionals in healthcare, biopharma, biomedical, academic, financial services, asset management, retail and nonprofit sectors.
[i] Roberts et al., “Composing the Reflected Best-Self Portrait: Building Pathways for Becoming Extraordinary in Work Organizations,” Academy of Management Review 2005, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp 712-736.
[ii] Daniel M. Cable et al., “How Best-Self Activation Influences Emotions, Physiology and Employment Relationships.” Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 16-029, September 2015