You know the feeling – like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. If you’ve started your own business and feel like you’re swimming in a sea of overwhelm, don’t despair. You’re not alone.
Here are four sanity-saving strategies to get your ‘to do’ list under control.
Write down your goals
It sounds obvious but it’s surprising to find that some business owners have not actually done this. Do you ever find yourself so busy that you only have time to look at the next step in front of you? Instead, set aside time to write down where you see your business a year down the track. Do the same for three years.
But don’t stop there. In order to achieve your goals, you need to break down your big goals into smaller milestones and then reverse engineer them. That is, figure out all the steps you need to take to achieve those milestones. Write them down and put a deadline on each of them. Once you do that, you can see that your big goals are achievable by completing a small step each day.
Create systems as soon as possible
As a business owner, you’re often putting out fires and troubleshooting problems. The bad news is that this never stops. Unexpected issues happen all the time. The good news is that you can get through these hurdles a lot more easily if you have robust systems in place that look after the day-to-day operations of your business.
Wherever possible, make sure that you have clear procedures and systems for all the processes in your business – everything from processing sales, to dealing with customer complaints, or ordering stock. That way, you – or whoever you delegate to – have a clear framework to work with and you approach each process in a consistent way. You don’t waste time reinventing the wheel and researching how to do things.
Networking and support
No man (or woman) is an island. When you embark on a journey of solo-preneurship, it can be easy to focus too much on the ‘solo’ part. You think you need to be chief cook, bottle washer, technology troubleshooter, and sales guru all rolled into one. While it’s true that you need to wear many hats as a business owner, you don’t want to fall into the trap of existing in total isolation either because that’s when overwhelm can kick in.
From the outset, make a point to create a network of supporters, friends and, most importantly, other business owners. Go to small business networking events, participate in entrepreneurial forums and go to conferences where you know like-minded people hang out. Sometimes, the mere act of talking to someone else who can understand what you’re going through as a small business owner can be a wonderful feeling.
Understand the difference between delegation and abdication
You’ve been told that you need to delegate more and you’ve hired staff or consultants so you can do just that. So, why do you still feel so overwhelmed? Remember there’s a big difference between delegation and abdication. When you delegate a task or project to someone, they are responsible for making it happen but you still have an overview – and often approval – of what’s going on. In a small business, that means you still need to be the leader because the buck stops with you.
However, you abdicate responsibility when you pass the task or project on to someone else and take yourself out of the loop, hoping they will magically come through with a solution, no matter how hard. That’s the coward’s way out. Don’t do it because it’s a false economy. You think you’re getting tasks/projects off your plate but it will only come back to bite you later.
Ultimately, your entrepreneurial journey can be unpredictable and all-consuming. But if you have the right structures in place, this wild and crazy ride can also be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.