More, more & more
Entrepreneurs are often driven by actions. It’s the easiest way to be; our natural habitat. You start your business because you possess a quality that means you can do a particular thing (certain action) well. From this, you begin building your business. It’s a place of comfort and reward. It could be creating websites or, in my example later on, a writer. You succeed, have a positive effect and are asked to make or do more – and so on. The logical next step then seems to be: how can I do that more efficiently, get hold of more customers or more products? Day in, day out, stumbling through your never-ending to-do list, your definition of success is one that’s defined by society: you’re busy and earning well, and so, you’ve made it as an entrepreneur.
Feeding your inefficiencies
And you’re not alone. It’s normal human behaviour to feed this operational level of your business. We begin to accept the belief that being on a treadmill and building our business by always “doing” is the “entrepreneur way”. But, it’s perhaps somewhat of a narrow view.
In fact, as many of us soon realise, we are not looking to the future, we are building only in the now – solving today’s to-do list, which is addictive in itself. We teach ourselves there is no other way and create an accepting level in which we work. A repetitive – sometimes punishing – cycle; chains that are hard to break free from because in a certain way it’s successful and therefore appealing to keep doing.
If you feel you want more, how do we change this level of working?
It’s worth trying to channel your inner Albert Einstein – who I am told knows a thing or two! He allegedly said: “No problem can be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it.”
Don’t look at what you are doing, understand your purpose for doing what you do.
Time to flip things on their head?
To emphasise this point, I’d like to call on an Italian sociologist and economist, Vilfredo Pareto and his well known discovery that 80% of wealth in Italy was owned by just 20% of people. His principle subsequently moved into other 20:80 scenarios, all based around 20% of the problems or the actions created 80% of the required outcome.
But, more often than not, it’s the other way round. And in the case of the “to do list treadmill” we know the result of the 80:20 scenario is exhausting. If this resonates with you, it may be time to ask yourself the important purpose questions to move to the more successful 20:80.
Viewing from a different level
How do we start viewing what we are doing, and understanding the origin of actions from a different level in order to change patterns? From there, we can then ask: why am I doing this, does this support my purpose and is this who I want to be in three years’ time?
Answering these questions forces you to take a broader picture. It’s about creating your North Star that gives you a different perspective on what you are doing. It acts as a kind of sieve that stands between your beliefs and your actions, letting you see what is important and letting go of what is not.
Viewing what is important to you at this level creates a new belief about what you should be spending your time doing. Einstein would be proud.
What you are left with is a laser-sharp focus that helps you define what truly matters as an entrepreneur, understanding the right 20% that will give you 80% of the result you need.
That may turn out to be fewer, but exceptional, clients or customers, or less but more effective doing. Above all, it’s about learning how to stop the (many) actions that are fuelling the least valuable aspects of your company.
Weary and unfocused
I find it helps to draw on real world examples to illustrate this point and bring it on to entrepreneurs specifically. I recently coached a business writer as part of the Wyseminds’ Lift-Off programme. Her writing services had become so popular, she decided to create a ‘collective’ of other writers to support her in delivering more content to more clients. More, more and more.
Feeling rather weary, she understandably thought this was where her focus should be. But, it was a narrow, inward-looking view. And that path would mean a career of being a project manager of others. Growth yes, but at what cost? And with what enjoyment? She was being forced into a frantic future role that didn’t play into her skills.
A broader perspective
We peeled back the layers and you could see her mind racing; it was the first time someone had helped create a broader perspective of what her entrepreneurial purpose could be. Her skill or the quality she had was indeed writing. However, her purpose was the joy of unearthing stories that businesses didn’t even know they possessed, at depth yet untold.
Certainly a more compelling concept for her clients to buy into than just more articles. One that would fuel growth, not feed inefficiency and stress. And for the entrepreneur herself, a clear path to become a Creative Chief, not a spreadsheet slave.
Shock and awe
It can be confrontational when you start opening Pandora’s Box in this way. A bit ‘shock and awe’ to begin with. We humans prefer safety and predictability; it’s our comfort blanket. Even if that means working 10 hours a day, seven days a week. But if your purpose sits on top, it can look down and trigger all behaviours below it.
A quick release cord that opens up the space and time you need.
My mantra is “enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy”. Nobody minds being busy. But it’s about knowing that everything you do is moving you in a direction you have painted. And that means understanding what your 20% looks like.
Thinking about your right next step and finding out what truly matters takes courage, honesty and authenticity. It will challenge you, but it will also lead to clarity regarding your entrepreneurial dreams and choices.
What you can do now
You can start pulling that cord – and finding your right next step – by signing up to the Wyseminds’ Lift-Off programme here.
The Lift-Off programme is the entry level to ‘Your Journey,’ our interactive training platform designed for female entrepreneurs to find the right, most relevant path to purpose-led business growth. Find out more >