By Michelle Paquette
Congratulations! You've signed the dotted line and you're officially a business owner. Now what? The good news is that you've managed to conquer the initial step of getting started. What typically follows is pondering, "What do I do next?"
There is so much to do and it can feel overwhelming to filter through all of it. It is quite common to feel stuck and paralyzed during this start-up stage. Since you have successfully sought out the right people to help you lay the foundation, the next phase is to develop your business.
Most business owners are eager to get going with their new venture. Excitement permeates the air. Oftentimes, you are telling everyone you know (a great marketing tool, by the way, so stick with spreading the word). You may ask, "If I'm so enthusiastic, why don't I know what to do next?" Think back to your first job. You probably had some training and support from your boss and other colleagues. As a business owner, you may feel alone, since this is your company and you don't have anyone to lean on for support.
The good news is that you have a skill set, which is what led you to start a business in the first place. Building upon your strengths is key to running a successful business. Know what you're good at and outsource what you're not. Trying to do it all isn't always best.
There is a learning curve with starting up and part of the trials and tribulations stems from the growing pains of figuring out what works and doesn't work for your particular business needs. There are, however, some helpful tools that all business owners should consider. To begin, here are a couple of helpful hints:
By allowing yourself to operate at a slower pace, you avoid the pitfall of burnout, which is experienced by many business owners. Deciding to start your own company perhaps was led by a decision to get out of the rat race of the corporate world, yet you're finding yourself working 60+ hours a week without any downtime. This scenario is quite typical, so you're not alone. Some simple ideas to consider:
- Take a lunch break. Step away from your desk. Research shows that going out to eat and taking a break helps your flow of productivity. You'll actually help to replenish both your physical and mental well being. As a result, you'll actually become more productive.
- Instead of squeezing another hour of your day into a business lunchtime meeting, schedule a lunch date with a friend. Balancing your personal and professional life helps your overall productivity, too.
- Use your lunch break to take a walk, enroll in a yoga class, or go to the gym. Mid-day exercise is a great way to clear the mind, release endorphins and increase energy.
Now that you've given yourself permission to take a break and rejuvenate, you're probably ready to conquer the world (or, at least the next item on that things to do list). Some simple ideas to consider:
- Change your perception and direction. Instead of having 10 items to finish in a day, reduce that number in half. You'll realize that you're actually crossing off more, therefore, feeling more motivated to take on the next day and the rest of the week.
- Readjust the instant gratification setting. Instead of immediately responding to e-mails and answering every incoming call, choose to set aside an hour or so during the day to return calls and respond to e-mails.
- Get some assistance. Paperwork can be a drag for business owners. If you're a small company, you may not have the budget to hire a full-time Administrative Assistant. One option that has become increasingly popular is a Virtual Assistant. Your VA is hired on an hourly basis and can help out with a variety of tasks, including sending out e-mail blasts or data entry. The VA works remotely, so he/she doesn't take up extra office space and the contract is typically on an as needed basis.
With balance and focus, you will be able to reduce burnout and build momentum. Each goal you finish is another stepping stone on the path toward developing your business. Take time to give yourself kudos for your hard work and dedication. It may sound simple enough, but taking stock of where you were helps you gain perspective on where you're headed.
Be mindful that during your first year of business operation, there will be many peaks and valleys, ups and downs. It may feel a bit tumultuous, but if you're aware of what to expect then taking the ride can be quite fulfilling and rewarding.