The Plight of the American Entrepreneur

Plight – a dangerous, difficult, or otherwise unfortunate situation.

The plight of an entrepreneur is fraught with trials and tribulation.  This is what lies ahead for the American entrepreneur as they embark on the path of self-employment and struggle with self- reliance.  There is little room for error and even less room for distractions along the way.  Everything I am about to share depends on the management of your time, discipline to stay the course and a commitment to your entrepreneurial endeavor.

Early in my career I had the pleasure of great mentorship.  Our company marketed over a dozen prolific authors in the fields of sale, management and motivation.  It was the best part of my business career.  Our company mantra was, “do the most productive thing we could at every given moment.”  We believed it, we lived it, and yes, we were workaholics.  While this mantra did serve us well, it did fly in the face of the old adage, “work smarter not harder”.  What I learned then and know now has me sharing the following experience.

Following are four things I found that inhibited my productivity and the growth of my companies. 

This comes from years of trial and error, empirical research, and one might say, “learning from the school of hard knocks!”  Will these four things make or break your business I dare not say. 

However, if they had been mere stepping-stones in our journey they may have better served our business.   Today I think of them as platitudes.  I believe we settled into these ideas, and unfortunately, lacked the experience to be nimble enough to know when to accept what value they delivered, and the wisdom to know when to move on…

Priorities over Goals!

Have you ever heard one explain how there is nothing worse than putting a ladder up against a wall only to climb to the top and find when you arrive you had leaned the latter up against the wrong wall!  Get your priorities straight before you set your goals and that won’t happen to you!  How can you do that efficiently and effectively is the question.  I believe it boils down to a question of values and having clarity on them prior to mapping out your business or career.   I suggest you either read Kevin McCarthy’s book “The On Purpose Person”, or you can use a the Pair Analysis Goal-Setting Matrix

Tool I developed.  Either device will server you well.

This book, or my goal-setting device, allows one to methodically compare all your goals with one another equally without bias.  This allows you to strike a perfect balance by evenly comparing all your goals i.e., personal, professional, financial, family and spiritual.  This exercise is a total game changer.  You will gain a new perspective on your life, and get your priorities straight before

launching with your dreams.  Be clear on your priorities in life before you dedicate all of it to one goal.

Multi-tasking?

We live in an information-processing society.  We all suffer from some degree of ADD given our high-paced life style, modern society and overwhelming technology.  Simply put, you can’t do the most productive thing at every given moment if you constantly are scattering your attention over a slew of tasks!  Get focused, staying focused and having the discipline to stay on track is critical for an entrepreneur.   To do otherwise will likely lead you down a path where end up a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. 

Put a day planning system in place.  Be dedicated to that system.  It will keep your priorities in front of you.  I might even go so far to suggest you share it with a trusted colleague, and ask them to hold you accountable.  We live in a world that moves so quickly, changes so fast and demands so much of our attention.   Multi-tasking only exacerbates this phenomenon.  In reflection, most of my multi tasking was self-inflicted distraction where I would find myself majoring in minor things.  Stop multi-tasking and stay focused!

Early Adoption & Toxic Technology

I’ve learned and relearned so many different software packages; operating systems and user manuals I would be frightened to tally up the hours spent trying to assimilate these products and services that all guarantee to make my life easier.  Everyone has a new gadget, widget or mousetrap that’s going to move the needle. 

I say pick one and become proficient with it.  Stick with what you know works. And grow with it.   Tell others your committed to it and stick with it.  We tend to chase all the latest and greatest technology only to learn with every step forward there’s usually two steps back.  Just ask the early adopters who have made themselves a part of every new learning curve the techno geeks of the world come up with.

Momentum with technology comes with consistent use and a constant effort to tweak and improve.  This can’t happen if you’re jumping from one plan to another every year.  Don’t get seduced by the clamor of shining new ideas and technology – stick with what works for you and stick with the plan!

Surfing or Searching

How much time do you find yourself spending as we drift from our work into the internet, intranet, Snap chat, LinkedIn and into 50 Apps on the phone of which 30 we never use.  It truly is scary just how quickly we get side tracked during the course of the day.  I dare you to tally up the hours in a day you waste on Google, Bing and other “searches” you do for information on your computer or on the Internet.  The statistics are staggering. 

This problem can only be remedied with a simple commitment to stay focused and disciplined. Stop surfing and start searching for things that will build your business and career.  Research only matters if it forwards your agenda.  So, if you’re going to allow yourself to drift, surf and woller, then search for things that will make your business a dollar. 

Goals, goals, goals, multi-tasking, early adoption and surfing the web.  All of these are modern platitudes of which we’ve leant far too much credence in our drive for success.  When given a choice, remember, most successful entrepreneurs walk the road less traveled rather than the path of least resistance.  Be inclined to move against natural trends and have the disciple to stick to your plan.

This is the plight of an entrepreneur.

Do I still believe I have to do the most productive thing I can at every moment – YES. 

I am just more selective and disciplined with the execution of my plan. 

I stick with it and learn along the way, but refrain from abandoning learned lessons of the past. 

Don’t let the societal tends forge your way.  Learn from those who were successful that have gone before you.  Watch carefully those who have excelled in your areas of interest.  Focus your business responsibilities in areas that will compliment the skills you need to develop especially those in revenue generating aspects of the business.   And finally, prioritize your learning curve – education matters.  Make it a priority to educate yourself.  On-going education is the way of an American entrepreneur.

Here’s to your Success,

Paul Schween

Vice President ~ EntreprenurLife, LLC.

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