A while back, I ran across this short video (from a company called Success Connections), which vividly describes where many entrepreneurs go wrong:

While the video contains some hints about how to address these strategic errors, here's my advice for overcoming them:

1. Superhero Syndrome

In my experience, entrepreneurs tend to overestimate what they can do in a week and underestimate what they can do in a year. To avoid becoming overwhelmed in the short-term, estimate how long it will take you do each task and then map it onto a calendar.

I recommend using a paper day planner rather than a computer program. When you block off two hours by drawing a physical line from, say, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., you get a sense that time will actually pass while you work. That's usually not as clear onscreen.

Furthermore, unlike your computer, a paper day planner doesn't tempt you to forget about the planning and instead answer emails, play Warcraft, or whatever. In other words, using paper separates you from your work so that you can think more clearly about it.

2. Bright Shiny Syndrome

The entire business-to-business segment of the high-tech industry has for decades been selling the belief that technology will make you more efficient. However, that is only true if you automate stuff that you're already doing.

Since the Internet makes software downloads so simple, it's all too easy to get seduced into learning "tools" that increase the number of tasks that you must do, to accomplish tasks that, in the end, aren't all that important.

The root of the problem is starting your thought process with, "Wow, what a neat tool!" and then figuring out what to do with it. Instead, ask yourself these two questions, in this order: 1) "What do I need to accomplish?" and 2) "Is there a tool to make it easier?"

Another way to avoid Bright Shiny Syndrome is to realize that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts. I discuss how to use that fact to your advantage in "The Surprising Secret of Time Management."

3. J.O.B. Syndrome

I remember an entrepreneur once saying to me: "You know, Geoffrey, every boss I've ever worked for has been an a**hole, including me, now that I'm self-employed." He was only half-serious, but he had a point.

If entrepreneurs aren't careful, they run a big risk of creating the same stress-filled, too-much-to-do environment that they hoped to leave behind when they departed the corporate world.

Being an entrepreneur is so challenging that there's very little chance of succeeding if you're not having fun. As I explain in "9 Daily Habits that Will Make You Happier," you can avoid becoming a stressed-out workaholic by finding the joy in whatever task you undertake.

Published on: Sep 10, 2014
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