Keep the Drive Alive: 5 Tips to Stay Engaged As an Entrepreneur
New businesses fail for many reasons. One that is not discussed as often as its incidence warrants are founder fatigue — that is, a long-duration malaise that saps the creative and productive potential of the founder and trickles down to the enterprise’s employees if any.
Combating founder fatigue is easier said than done. What follows is a brief look at five strategies that entrepreneurs and small business owners can undertake to remain engaged with their work and energized by its results.
Have you tried any to date?
Cross One Item Off Your To-do List Every Day
Momentum is absolutely critical to commercial success. If you don’t already do so, create a detailed to-do list divided into urgent, near-term, medium-term, and long-term (strategic) categories, with further subdivision as necessary to properly account for priority.
Every day you’re on the job, target at least one urgent or near-term item for completion. Don’t rest (or go home for the day) until that task is done.
The key here is ensuring your chosen tasks are manageable enough to complete in a single day.
Seek Out Variety in Your Daily Routine and Responsibilities
Whatever else you do, don’t do the same thing every day. At least, don’t do the same things in the same order.
Take it from a business owner who operates multiple successful enterprises. His purview is so broad and diverse that no two days are quite alike.
“With so much variety in my day-to-day, I don’t worry about getting stuck in a routine,” says Miami entrepreneur George Otte, whose Otte Polo Group has several subsidiary businesses in different industries. “
Instead, I come to work each day ready to maximize my productivity and energized to tackle new challenges.”
Jump Headlong Into New Ventures (But Don’t Be Reckless About It)
Another cure for founder fatigue: regularly pursuing new ventures. This is not to say that you must open a new subsidiary every six months, nor that you must cease operating successful business lines before they become boring.
Rather, it means that founders do well by themselves to maintain a steady pipeline of new projects that align with their personal interests and current business activities.
Invest in Continuing Education
Most licensed professionals must complete the required continuing education hours to remain in good standing. Why should entrepreneurs be any different?
“Continuing education in the workplace can be a win-win for both employees and employers,” writes education expert Ian Cohen.
Indeed, Cohen may undersell the benefits somewhat: continuing education is also a great way for entrepreneurs to break free of the daily grind at destination conferences, or to learn new skills from the comfort of home on a much-deserved day off.
In-person continuing education offers fantastic networking opportunities, as well.
Live by the 80/20 Rule
Devote 80% of your valued time to your core responsibilities and 20% of your valued time — one business day per week — to side pursuits that may or may not bear fruit for your business.
Even if these initiatives go nowhere, they provide an important creative outlet.
How Do You Stay Engaged?
As an entrepreneur, you no doubt think often about how best to stay engaged with and energized by your work. Many of your compatriots use some or all of the strategies outlined above to do just that.
If you have yet to try any, you’d do well to do so.
You may well be surprised by the results.