People who can't manage their own lives don't make good entrepreneurs. Small businesses require multi-tasking, work prioritization, and decision-making, with no entourage of assistants and specialists. That's why Fortune 500 executives usually don't survive as start-up CEOs.
First you have to learn to accept total responsibility for things that happen to your business, just like you are responsible for everything in your personal life. Maybe you are comfortable with having a spouse in control of your personal life, but couples running a business are high risk.
If you recognize yourself in these clues below, you may not be fully managing yourself. These points represent real problems for entrepreneurs trying to manage a start-up:
- You often feel overwhelmed and out of control. There is always more to do than time to do it. Usually the stress people feel does not really come from having too much to do, but from having to make decisions on what to do first, and not setting reasonable targets.
- You find yourself starting many things, but completing few. Productivity is all about the ability to complete tasks. It requires trade-offs and decisions, to declare that something is finished. Get in the habit of finishing what you start. Perfectionists need not apply.
- You like to defer big things until later. If you catch yourself deferring important tasks, in favor of smaller easy things, that's a management problem. Adopt a "do it now" motto, and tackle your to-do list in priority order, rather than crisis order.
- You regularly over-think decisions and second-guess yourself. If you spend more time thinking and worrying about a task, than doing the task, then you are not managing yourself. Don't waste your precious creative energy. Finish items, and get them off your mind.
- Avoiding new opportunities due to fear of failure is also something you want to avoid. Real entrepreneurs look at every new opportunity as an exciting and new-life experience. They are energized by the risk and learn from every failure.
- You find yourself counting your weaknesses. Good business leaders never criticize themselves for their weaknesses. Smart ones recognize their undeveloped skills and higher potential, but they are confident that they can change, and they constantly work at it.
- You exhibit a lack of confidence and enthusiasm. If you have a "downer" day at least once a week, and can't remember the last time you were truly enthusiastic about something in your life or work, you are not ready to manage a business. Self-confidence is key to success.
- You like to work alone. Every business and every relationship is a team effort. Loners hide from others because they don't want anyone to see that they are not in control. Make an effort to network with others to stay informed and contribute, but not dominate.
- You're a control freak. Believe it or not, many people who don't manage themselves very well are control freaks when it comes to their business and other people. Practice the art of delegating and the joy of being spontaneous.
Managing yourself effectively is the best preparation for managing a new business. It means you understand yourself, and are likely able to read other people and understand them, leading to a trusting relationship with your team and your customers.
More important, managing yourself gives you a deeper understanding of what you value and how you define success. It means that you can make the hard choices about your real goals in business and can reach those goals. Above all, you will be able to truly enjoy your successes.