Small business advice: You answer to yourself when you’re an entrepreneur

It’s a typical Monday morning in my world. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 21 years and I’ve found that Mondays are the most critical day of the week for me. Monday morning is when I set the course for the entire week, deciding what the priorities of the week should be and then checking myself against those goals as the week progresses.

In learning how to run a small business as a solo entrepreneur, I knew I had the blessing of answering to no-one but myself. But I found that I had to actually answer to myself. What do I mean? I needed to manage myself, but I needed to split myself into two selves. There is the strategic Joel and the get-it-done Joel.

On Monday mornings the strategic Joel plays his role and takes a look at what was accomplished (or not) the previous week, assesses the big picture goals and sets a course for the upcoming week. I’m even anal enough to have created a spreadsheet with ten categories of activity. I split each day into 20 ½ hour segments and project how much time I’ll spend each day in each category. I fill in the spreadsheet as each day progresses and then re-assess and re-prioritize the following morning.

I can tell you how much time I’ve spent on each activity category over the past week, month, quarter or year, and I even have it broken down into percentages of time spent. I’ve spent 5% of my time over the past quarter on our StartupNation podcasting initiative. (All that time figuring out batting averages and ERA’s as a kid growing up playing baseball has certainly paid off.)

My day rarely goes exactly as I project and for great reasons, but I make certain that I don’t go longer than a day without re-evaluating and making strategic decisions based on new daily information.

Is all this energy worth it? I believe I would be lost without it. Taking 30 minutes at the beginning of each day to plan and strategize my activity makes the remaining 10-12 hours as fruitful as possible. (Yes, I most often end up with more than 20 ½ hour segments recorded on my spreadsheet. Hey, us entrepreneurs don’t exactly fit into a “normal” work day.) I also can blaze through the day with the knowledge that I have a terrific plan and don’t need to pause and second-guess myself.

By the way, one of my ten activity categories is Fitness. I learned long ago that being fit is critical to my business success, so I include it as a category that I must pay attention to. I don’t steal time away from my work day to go to the gym or play a baseball game, it’s an important part of my business day that I make certain I accomplish.

How about you? Got any small business advice or tips to share about how you make your small business a success? It’s Monday and we’re all looking for a little inspiration.

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