Entrepreneurs, does multitasking get in the way of your focus? How do you maintain your sanity and focus on the work you are doing when you wear many hats?
Multi-tasking is an important skill to have, particularly if you are a small business owner. But can multi-tasking cause you to develop some level of ADD (or can it exacerbate an existing condition)? In some cases, I have read that someone with ADD can actually do well as an entrepreneur who wears many hats. Then again, in today’s job environment — particularly if you work at a startup — it is often the norm for employees to slip into multiple roles. Apparently, having attention issues seems to be a byproduct of us living in the Internet Age. If you’re constantly connected, you’ll need to seek a way to maintain balance, just to preserve your sanity.
Should You Diversify Or Focus?
A twin concern here is to determine whether you should “diversify” or “concentrate” your efforts into one project. Many entrepreneurs love to innovate and are often very creative. Goodness knows how often I’ve been hit with manic episodes that fill my head with business idea after business idea. Sometime ago, I’d have been tempted to pursue almost any business idea I hear about. If I surround myself with other Type A folks, it can become quite intense. For me, it’s always a game of trying to figure out which things need to take priority, as I always seem to feel that there’s just so much business to do and to try to fit within a limited amount of time.
A lot of business people like the concept of diversification. It’s the same principle as that used by investors who desire to make their portfolio less vulnerable to market swings. So imagine having a portfolio of businesses rather than investments (well a business is a type of investment — it’s your own company you are investing in and actively working on). Multi-tasking goes hand-in-hand with having diverse and varied projects. This situation can easily make you go nuts and may lead to burnout. While you are protecting yourself from the risk of failure by having more businesses, you are also increasing your risk of spreading yourself too thin and biting more than you can chew. This may lead to compromised quality across all your businesses rather than superior quality work applied to just one business. By concentrating your full effort on one thing, you can do a much better job on that one prioritized project vs doing a half-baked job on everything else.
Regardless of how you answer, you’ll want to know how best to keep yourself from burning out: the self-employment track is a marathon, not a race!
How To Keep Your Sanity & Manage Your Time As A Busy Entrepreneur
The best entrepreneurs have figured out how to keep their lives in balance. It helps tremendously if you can lean on others who can fill any gaps you’ve got (with regards to skills, roles, responsibilities and even financing). I would suggest finding a lot of support this way because frankly, running a business is a lot of work.
So how do you manage a business when you have so little time and so much work in front of you? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Get partners or hire your own staff.
Think about creating a partnership. Support for your business that’s financial, emotional and operational can go a very long way. Ideally, you’ll want to work with someone who’s as enthusiastic as you are about your project, but who complements your skills and expertise pretty well. Find out how you can share responsibilities with your partner. In some cases, someone may provide the funding while you do the work (or vice versa). In other cases, it’s all about sharing the sweat equity. You’ll eventually have to set up your company or business to reflect this arrangement.
If you don’t have partners, and you need help, support or resources, then think about becoming THE boss and hiring people to cover roles and responsibilities you can’t do yourself. Where are you going to get the money? While financing is one option, you may not want to start off with too large of a money pit right away unless you’re comfortable about the financing risks and are confident about the returns you’ll be generating. If you’re cash-strapped, then see if you can hire one person at a time and try them out. As your business expands, then add more personnel. Some businesses may require a large amount of startup capital to get going; this is particularly the case with traditional businesses. In this case, you’ll need to assess if you’re prepared to shoulder some debt or face dilution of ownership.
2. Always manage your business professionally.
Don’t cut corners. Often, the quality of your work will speak for itself. So use contracts, document your work, and use business tools to keep yourself organized. When you’ve got more people in your team in order to spread the work around, you’ll find that it becomes much more important to run things more formally. Documentation and organization become important: you’ll have to develop a system for running and managing your venture in order to make things flow smoothly.
3. Know when to cut back on projects.
This may be hard to hear if you are a Type A business owner. But if you’re not interested in diluting your stock through a partnership or company, or you’re not able to hire employees to help take on some of the work from your plate, then you’ll have to think about backing off some of the things that you’ve got queued up until you’re truly ready for new tasks and projects.
4. Prioritize your work.
It goes without saying that you’ll need to prioritize the stuff on your plate or risk spreading yourself thin.
5. Avoid overpromising and making too many commitments.
If you find yourself burning out, step back and de-stress. Nothing is worth your sanity and health! Financial success is great, but not at the cost of damaging your health and your important relationships.
How Are You Dealing With A Time Crunch?
Regardless of how much work you’ve got lined up, see how well you can maintain balance in your life. All too often, very busy people end up sacrificing a lot for their ambitions and dreams. Many of us feel that there’s never enough time to do everything we want. And for some, time constraints will mean giving up experiences with their family or sacrificing their health, if they insist on aiming high (or refuse to maintain realistic goals and expectations).
So how are you keeping your sanity? Do you find yourself having to give up some important things in life in order to pursue your major business goals? Do you prefer to run or juggle several things at once and spread your bets but also possibly risk producing mediocre results? Or should you focus on one venture and apply your full concentration, energy and time on it — basically giving your all and staking it all on one project? You may smite your competition if you can pull off a truly great job on one thing, but of course, there are no guarantees that this will happen. I think that age has some influence on your answer here — the younger you are, the more enthusiastic you are about multiple ideas and you may even end up committing the sin of overcommitment. Usually, more years under your belt and more experience tend to temper your plans a little and keep you more realistic about your prospects.
Created February 23, 2011. Updated June 20, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.