Entrepreneurs are expected to do everything and be everything at all times. It’s part of business, especially when you’re first starting out.
However, there are some seemingly productive habits that you may have formed that are actually killing your success in the long term. The candle that burns brightest, burns fastest, and while it’s crucial for you to be productive with your time, you also need to focus on not burning out.
Here are five of the most touted habits that I’ve watch kill the long-term success of other entrepreneurs. Check yourself to make sure you aren’t making these mistakes.
1. Work over play always. I’ve watched many bright, responsible and talented entrepreneurs forsake any fun or play in the name of building their business, only to lose their competitive edge and standing in the long term. Why? Creativity.
Creativity comes from a place and space of play. Innovation comes through creativity. When you don’t take time for creativity, for play and for doing things outside the business of tasks and work, you start to lose your creative capacity. Creation is born from a more fluid and dynamic space than just work alone.
Don’t skip out on all forms of play just for the sake of work. You might be productive in the short term, but you’ll burn out over time.
2. Long hours mean big results. It’s a quintessentially North American trait to log long hours and most days of the week at the office. This can be particularly bad at startups.
Don’t get into the competitive nature of staying late, coming early and working weekends unless results are coming out of the hours. Don’t force staff to be there when it isn’t necessary. Encourage and foster a spirit of time outside the office, starting with youself, so you create the space to allow your staff to follow your direction.
Most startups will find that staff is extremely loyal. Even when you tell them to go, they’ll often stay late. Be vigilant about time efficiency and productivity measures during the day so you can send yourself and your staff home to rejuvenate at night and on weekends.
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3. Multitasking. To me, multi-tasking is synonymous with ADD at best and multiple-personality disorder at its worst. Don’t multitask. Your staff can tell when you aren’t listening. Your work can suffer when you aren’t focused on it.
Do one thing at a time, do it well and completely and then move to the next task. Ever tried to type an e-mail while someone is talking to you and found you’ve written out what they’re saying? Proof that multitasking doesn’t work.
4. Not trusting remote staff. Your team as a startup will probably include vendors, freelancers, consultants and outsourced help. Don’t micro-manage them or assume that just because they aren’t in the office, they aren’t working.
Having specific work-from-home days for staff can be a great incentive for top talent when you’re just starting out. Expect deliverables but don’t assume out of sight, out of mind. Trust your staff or don’t have them at all.
5. You need to be in everything. Being in all of your departments meetings, or worse yet, being the head of every department, doesn’t make you a good leader or a good entrepreneur. You have to learn to delegate and get as much off your plate as possible, as soon as possible to the right people. Don’t be everything or you’ll burn out.
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