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Work habits of successful entrepreneurs


3 min read

Many business owners are not very skilled at thinking and acting like an entrepreneur.
Your Primary Aim, the words you use to describe the essence of your life, and your Strategic Objective, your vision for your ideal business, may be your first experience setting priorities and identifying what is really important to you. Once you have them articulated, it's time to practice strategic thinking so that you can build your business and your life intentionally and in accordance with the goals and objectives you've set for yourself. (For more information about your Primary Aim and your Strategic Objective, read Chapters 12 and 13 of The E-Myth Revisited.)

Most business owners spend far too much time working IN their business, doing
what we call Technician-type work that could be done by any employee with the
necessary skills. The EMyth Perspective says you need to go to work ON your
business. (See Chapters 1 and 2 of The E-Myth Revisited for more about the Technician
and the Entrepreneur). Doing more Technician or "hands-on" work will not help you move your business closer to your Strategic Objective. Only when you work ON your business (strategic work) will you change the way the business performs. So it's important to make time for strategic work. If the business owner uses time management tools to do nothing but more Technician work, they'll turn this tool into a shiny new fire hose. Putting out the fires is not your objective! Your objective is to trim back the undergrowth and build some new fire-resistant structures so the fire doesn't start in the first place.

Here are some ways to keep you focused on the strategic work. Business owners who achieve the results they want will develop similar habits and attitudes. Two of the most important attitudes you need to develop are:

  • Strategic work is the most important work you can do. Make it an absolute priority every day no matter what else happens.
  • You need to make decisions and then take action on those decisions, even though
    you don't have all of the information about the situation. In other words, cultivate
    a willingness to step into the unknown.

Many, if not most of our clients, come to EMyth lacking in one or both of those attitudes. To effect change, you need to develop the following habits:

  • First and most importantly, spend at least ONE HOUR A DAY devoted to strategic
    work. Strategic work is any work related to planning, tracking, or managing the
    operation of the business. You need to make this a daily practice and it must
    take priority over everything else. If you develop this habit, you'll begin to change the way you see their business. If you don't, you probably won't
    change, or it will take a lot longer to make the shift.
  • Try doing something different at least once a week. Whether it's a new way
    of training employees, a new way of interacting with customers, a new way of
    producing the product or service, a new way of answering the phone, or even something
    as simple as a new way of dealing with incoming mail, trying something new helps
    you exercise your entrepreneurial "muscles." You need to take a stab at it even
    if you don't have all of the answers or aren't sure how it will work. It does
    not have to be perfect. Waiting for perfection is just an excuse to not try anything
    new! Just try it, and observe it closely to see what works and what doesn't work.
    You can make adjustments as you go based on what you learn.
  • As soon as possible, start looking for ways to delegate technical work to others. Make a list of what kind of technical work you want to delegate, decide which position (not person!) is most appropriate to delegate to, and create a timeline and a plan to hand it over.
  • Take away employees', customers', and family's permission to interrupt whenever
    they feel like it. Few strategies will have a greater impact on your productivity!
    Have employees get in the habit of prioritizing their "crisis" and develop a
    proposed solution to the issue before they come to you. Only events that require
    immediate attention are worth an interruption. If the situation does not require
    immediate attention, the employees must find another way of communicating with
    you. E-mail, voicemail, adding it to the agenda of the next scheduled meeting,
    or putting it in a report are all preferable to interrupting you. Make someone
    else in the business the point of contact for your customers. Change your cell
    phone number and don't give the new one to your customers. Instruct your employees
    not to give out the new number to ANYONE. Instruct your family to limit calls
    to you during the workday. Let your voicemail pick up the calls that do come
    in. You can listen to your messages and return them in batches a couple of times
    a day, instead of dealing with every perceived "crisis" in
    the moment.
  • Once a week, review your Strategic Objective and create a plan to do some work to generate observable, quantifiable progress toward that Strategic Objective.

Making these habits a daily practice takes time and effort, but they will have
significant benefits for you and your business. These habits allow you the space
you need to think about how to do business differently. And doing business differently
than you've been doing it is absolutely essential to you getting what you want
from your business and from your life!

EMyth Team

Written by EMyth Team

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