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Learn to Step Back


Being an entrepreneur looks different for everyone. For some, it might be pouring over a thousand spreadsheets, chatting with a dozen distributors, or adding up inventory over and over again. For others, maybe it’s spending days hunched over a computer or sweeping a brick and mortar store. The one thing that’s true for everyone? It’s a lot of work.

A burnt out boss is a boss who makes mistakes, misses opportunities, or gives up when things get too overwhelming. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for your business is take care of yourself.

Here’s a few ways you can learn to take a step back.

Create a Schedule

Scheduling might sound like a work task. But for a lot of us, scheduling time off can be a transitional step from over-working to work-life balance.

Not everyone works well when they have free time that is 100% free. How many of us are guilty of checking a quick email while waiting for the oven to pre-heat or returning a phone call that ends up cutting into half an hour of the movie you’re now late for? Just like a clear schedule for when to do work is important, a schedule to not work can also help guide us when our idle hands start to panic.

One way to do this is to enforce clear weekend and nighttime boundaries. But if your business needs evening availability, you could instead have a strict morning routine that lets you start work a little later. In your grind stage? Perhaps a scheduled vacation time on the calendar will be enough to get you over that hurdle.

Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s frequent enough to avoid burnout, and then actually stick to it.

Hire People You Trust

It might seem like a no-brainer to hire people you trust, or at least people who seem trustworthy. But are you actually trusting them? If you feel the need to micromanage every thing your employees do, it might be time to go back to the drawing board. This could mean you should make a different hire or it might be an opportunity to consider ways to actively demonstrate your trust in your employees. After all, what’s the point of hiring someone if you’re doing their job anyway?

But we get that it’s hard. Like leaving your kid alone with a new babysitter, your business is yours and you care a lot about every little aspect. Find ways you and your employees can build trust together. Offering up a little control, one task at a time, can help give your employees confidence and remind you that not everything needs to go through your hands to be good.

Automate Where You Can

You’ve probably heard the phrase, if you want it done right, do it yourself. In business, that’s not always the best choice. It’s important to determine which tasks need you, and which tasks just need to get done. Figure out the difference by learning when and where to automate.

Learning to take a step back means realizing where you can and can’t let go. Unfortunately, there’s not a one size fits all answer to what you should step back on. After all, if you’re a web designer, you probably shouldn’t outsource building your own website. But if you’re a car wash, then, yeah, you don’t need to learn WordPress by yourself.

There are dozens of things you can automate without sacrificing your personal touch on your business. For example, branding requires a lot of technical maintenance, like hosting your business website, having a professional looking e-mail address and phone line, and securing online purchases so you don’t get a reputation for data breaches. Or you could automate things like annual report compliance with your state. All of these are ways for you to put the work onto someone else.

Other ways to automate your business include setting default email responses to clients, letting them know you’ll get back to them soon, or using a social media schedule software to have your posts uploaded automatically, making your work weekly or monthly instead of daily.

Trust the Process

We hate to be the one to say it, but sometimes, the secret ingredient to a successful business is just… Time. That’s one thing that not even we can bottle up. You can work, work, work all day every day, somehow bypass humanity’s need for sleep and food and human connection, and you still won’t be a more established business than Slacker McGee’s start-up that opened on the same day as yours.

Your business needs time to gain loyal customers, time to demonstrate quality products, and time to become known in the community. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to have a huge push of happy clients, but long term success requires exactly that: a long term.

By acknowledging this, and accepting the limitations that the Earth’s gravitational pull has put on you, it might make it easier to step back and relax.

This entry was posted in Opinion.