Starting your own business is hard enough, but keeping it going can prove an even bigger challenge in the long run. All too often, there’s no-one else you can reliably count on to shoulder the load, even when the pressures of growth or customer expectations mount beyond what you can feasibly bear.
The consequences are obvious – but how do you keep the fire burning without burning out? There’s no simple answer to that question, but these suggestions may at least guide you to a better balance in how you manage your business:
DELEGATE NON-CORE RESPONSIBILITIES
Your time is best spent on activities that grow and sustain the business. Delegating secondary functions, like finance or administrative processes, can significantly free up your mental load and allow you to focus on your strengths.
Doing so, however, requires trustworthy partners or employees to whom you can pass on these responsibilities without constantly having to look over their shoulder. One way to test the waters? Start new employees or service providers off with less critical tasks, then escalate them to higher-value functions as they earn your confidence.
TRUST TECHNOLOGY WHERE YOU CAN
Automating certain business processes can also help you win back time that could be better spent. Financial and logistics functions, for example, consume much less time when automated – something a strong business management solution or financial software platform should do with relatively little setup. While these processes will still require at least some human input, over 34% of APAC businesses have automated rote activities, like invoicing, billing, or inventory management, to significantly reduce the hours (and headcount) needed to keep operations in good health.
Equipping your employees with these tools can also help you maintain visibility over the business without getting as actively involved in the details: most such platforms offer dashboards that let you track key metrics and resources at a glance.
PRESS PAUSE ON YOUR OPERATIONS
For most founders, the work never ends – not on weekends, nor on holidays. There’s always the possibility that something will require your attention. In this sort of climate, how can you truly take a step away from your business to revive and take on a fresh perspective?
Consider designating certain “outage” periods for your business throughout the year where you and your team shut down operations entirely – flagging these windows to your customers well ahead of time. You might use these times for team-building activities or group retreats, or simply allow yourself and your employees personal time to reflect and rest in your own individual ways.
PUT A CAP ON GROWTH
Can a business grow too much? Arguably, yes – if doing so ultimately compromises the ability of its leaders to maintain results in the long run. As you set your targets or KPIs for each year, take a realistic look at just how much you can sustainably grow with your current headcount, time, and workload. That insight may come from your ERP, CRM, and other business intelligence platforms, which should give you a reasonably clear picture of how efficiently your business is meeting current demand. It’ll also come from honest talks with other people – not just your staff, but also family members, friends, and others who can provide that trusted perspective on how running the business is impacting you.
For most business owners, money isn’t the main motivation for what they do. If you founded your own business to gain back control over your time, pursue something you love, or a range of other non-monetary reasons – reflect on that initial motivation and assess how adjusting your operations or even expectations can realign it with the current state of affairs. Technology, other people, and even self-discipline play a role in how long you last as a founder and leader. After all, your business should serve you – not the other way around.