Is all your hard work paying off? Maybe not. According to Boston University's Questrom School of Business, managers can't tell the difference between employees working 80 hours a week - and those who just pretend to. They couldn't see if their overworked employees actually accomplished more than those just pretending to work hard.
But the research doesn't give us a free pass to just slash our work hours and expect to see success. Instead, we should be working smarter, not harder, on our businesses to see results.
So instead of logging upwards of 80 hours of work a week simply for the sake of hard work, turn those 80 hours into a smart and savvy business hustle to skyrocket your success. Here are six ways to get started.
1. Get Clear On Your Goals
Serious focus and clear goal setting is crucial to your business success. Start by writing down your goals to give your hard work a boost. According to a study by Dr. Gail Matthews at the Dominican University, more than 70% of those who wrote down their goals and sent weekly updates to a friend were successful in achieving those goals. Meanwhile, only 35% of those who kept the goals to themselves were actually successful.
I make all of my business goals transparent and public. For example, I chart out my major goals on my blog where clients, business leads, colleagues, and loved ones can all follow along with me. That transparency helps keep me accountable and my goals laser-focused.
Those efforts paid off and I was able to generate nearly $200,000 in consulting engagements from the traffic and engagement goals I publicly set.
2. Offer Incredible Value
Creating unbelievable value in your business isn't a new concept. But how you do it should extend past the services you bill for. I exceeded last year's goal to connect or help one person a day, and expected nothing in return. When I meet to help others or get to know them better, I don't ask for the sale or a return favor during that conversation. By simply focusing on helping others and creating value, I automatically generate leads and acquire new customers to the tune of six figures.
You can offer incredible value in your own business by focusing on what you do best. Give away a valuable ebook on your expertise if you're amazing at breaking down complex theories and jargon into easy-to-understand language. Create a LinkedIn group or a premium membership site if you excel at being a cheerleader for your clients and holding them accountable through their own business-building process.
3. Make It Passive
Earning a healthy income is relatively easy if you're working hard and putting in long hours. But there are only so many hours in the day that you can actually work. Spend too many hours on your actual services, and you sacrifice the time needed to develop new products and services and scale your business.
Instead, make part of your business a completely passive pursuit. Start by selling an ebook or self-paced video course. You can also look into how to diversify your wealth-building portfolio to earn passive income. That income can then be reinvested into your business to continue growing it.
For example, I've sold nearly 30,000 copies of my ebook, and also invest in passive commercial real estate through RealtyMogul. Qualified investors can get started for as little as $5,000.
4. Automate Your Systems
Earning money isn't the only thing that can be a passive pursuit in your business. Borrow from that passive concept and start automating your systems. Start by pre-qualifying leads with a survey or follow-up form to learn more about their business. This can dramatically reduce time on the phone going through the same questions you ask every lead, only to find out they're not your ideal client.
Use a system like KissFlow to determine processes, build forms, design the workflow, and set permissions for your team. SalesForce can also help automate processes like your project management systems, quality control, and managing advertising campaigns. Focus on completely automating your most common processes to create more margin and free up your time to build your business.
5. Eliminate Decision Fatigue
There are only so many decisions you can make in a single day before suffering burnout and decision fatigue. Research has shown that judges are more likely to offer parole and favorable terms during the morning hours - as decision fatigue sets in during the afternoon, similar offenders are more likely to be denied parole.
Make the majority of your decisions in the morning when your mind is the most alert and rested. Stack your afternoon with less-intensive tasks like meeting for coffee with a business prospect, answering emails, or getting in a workout at the gym.
And remember to take time to decompress and reflect. I reboot my brain by traveling, writing, and skydiving. In a survey of the daily routines of hundreds of Fortune 500 Executives, VPs and CEOs consistently use their evenings to unwind with a short walk, reading, pursuing a hobby, and shutting down electronics to relax before bed. When it's time to make more decisions in your business, you'll feel energized and more focused.
6. Outsource Strategically
Common sense should tell us we can't do everything ourselves. But in reality, entrepreneurs get stuck in the startup or bootstrapping mentality and keep doing everything themselves. Get more done in your business by outsourcing menial tasks, and anything that isn't within your range of expertise.
Start by outsourcing your bookkeeping to a monthly service like Bench, or your payroll to the experts at Wagepoint. Meanwhile, a service like Zirtual can provide you with virtual assistants to help with everything from travel planning to online research.
And don't just stop at delegating professional tasks. Remember, you can also outsource things like cleaning your office or home, cooking meals, and errand running to free up more time in your personal life and create more of a time margin in your business.
Are you ready to give up some control to work smarter, not harder? It's easy to keep wearing 'working hard' like a badge of honor. But working smart, automating processes, and giving up control can help your business soar and dramatically impact your bottom line.
What's your favorite way to work smarter, not harder, on your business? Let me know in the comments below.