Making the transition from working for someone else, to running your own business can be tough, but few would argue that the most difficult aspect of entrepreneurialism is being your own boss. While this is one of the main aspects of self-employment that appeals, as we get to make decisions for ourselves instead of being told what to do, it’s also the part of business ownership that requires the strongest determination to succeed.
When you think about it, it’s a bit like being a teenager and heading off to university or college for the first time. Instead of being bound by the rules of school and parents, we find ourselves with a relaxed schedule, and the new-found freedom can be intoxicating. This is why so many students spend their first year getting to know the local bars and clubs, instead of hitting the library or going to seminars. It takes time to adjust to self-management at any age.
When we join the world of work, we’re expected to adhere to other people’s routines and regulations once again. We’re told what time we have to arrive each day, we are given a list of objectives to achieve, and we are expected to follow codes of behaviour for how we dress, speak, and the type of work we deliver to managers.
We fall in to this routine easily, as people naturally respond well to having time and duties mapped out for them. However, when we make the transition to being our own boss, this lack of structure and routine can be daunting, and it is tempting to ignore the little voice in the back of our minds telling us to get on with things, and instead enjoy our freedom for a while.
The problem is, if we do this for too long, our business will fail. Success is dependent upon our learning the skill of self-management first, before we can even consider managing our business well. This means being strict about what time we get up, how much time we spend on specific aspects of the business, and looking after ourselves to make sure that we have the energy, perseverance and dedication to make the business thrive.
So, what are the top things we should be doing each day to make sure we manage ourselves, to be able to manage our business?
Set a routine. Any business owner learns about the importance of a strong routine before any other aspect of their job. For example, knowing what time you have to get up, setting targets for when you’ll be at your desk or place of work, and being strict about what tasks need to be done, at what time, is the only way to ensure you remain productive and focussed.
Without this routine, tasks slip and jobs go undone, leaving your business floundering as you work out what you should be doing. Something as simple as a diary with key tasks set out against specific times can work wonders when it comes to effective self-management.
Avoid distractions. When we work for ourselves, there will always be times when we just don’t feel like tackling some of the more pressing projects we need to get done. A good film on the TV, Facebook chat or responding to personal e-mails can all seem irresistible if we’re putting things off. T
The problem is, the more we allow ourselves to get distracted by the little things, the less likely we are to generate the motivation to set to work and get the important business tasks out of the way. Make a rule for yourself that you won’t surf the net, e-mail or take time out until you’ve done what you need to do to make your business thrive for the day.
Prioritise. On any given day being our own boss, there will be tasks which we don’t want to do, and others which seem easier and more appealing. Someone who likes writing, for example, will love updating their business blog, but may hate sitting down and sending out invoices. Because business ownership involves being a ‘Jack of all Trades’ in many respects, it’s important not to let the jobs you dislike slide in favour of more enjoyable tasks.
Every day, write down what you need to do and systematically work through the list, starting off with the least appealing and working towards the most enjoyable. This will ensure that your energy is at its highest when you’re focussing upon the first tasks, and you’ll be more likely to complete the rest of the list if all that remains are tasks you enjoy when your energy is waning.
Taking a few simple steps such as these will support you on the way to self-management, giving you the discipline, focus and determination to manage your business more effectively. With time, these routines and approaches become second-nature, setting you up for a lifetime of productivity and effectiveness as your own boss.
By Naomi Dinsmore, the founder of StartBizQuitJob, where they give you tools and the map, so you can start up successfully and build your very own business