As An Entrepreneur, You Need To Be A Great Boss

Photo credit:  David Marcu

Photo credit: David Marcu

Being in business for yourself is one of the most amazing and exciting career paths, but on the journey we have to climb giant boulders, ford rivers and meet and overcome other assorted day-to-day challenges. The biggest one being, perhaps, ourselves.

The biggest obstacle on the entrepreneurial journey is often ourselves. (Tweet that!)

If you’re like me and decided to work for yourself so that you could do your best work, then it would make sense that being your best boss is essential.

Honestly, though? Some days, I suck at it.

But, I – and likely you – have a frame of reference.

We’ve had the boss who brought out the best in us; we’ve had the boss who challenged us in the right way, we’ve had the boss who nurtured our growth and was invested in our success.

When I look back on my career working under those fabulous bosses, then I can connect with memories of what it felt like to be appreciated, accomplished, and able to contribute at a high level.

So, bring those memories and emotions forward so that you can do the same for yourself. Feel, savor and taste them and remember:

To do your best work as an entrepreneur you need to be the best boss to yourself. (Tweet that!)

Here are 12 tips for being your best boss. Think of these as gifts, things that you can do so that you feel more successful. Because when you give to yourself, you’ll get more out of yourself.

1.     Cheer yourself on. Celebrate your wins and log them so that you remember what you’ve accomplished. Expect mistakes. Silence your inner critic. And, give your confidence a workout

2.     Begin with the end in mind. This one is straight out of Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Having a vision for where you are headed will inform all that you do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. For example, my vision is the big picture view of my business’s successes and things that I want to accomplish in a specific timeframe.

3.     Focus. With your vision in mind,  now it’s time to establish your goals (limit to 3-5) and know your priorities. A great book on this topic is Gary Keller’s The One Thing. This wonderful book builds a case for narrowing your focus in order to get more done. I upheld this idea when I rewrote my website and got it done much faster than I initially projected.

4.     Write yourself a job description. Using bullets and lots of white space is recommended but make sure it’s tied to number one and two above and work within this framework. This is another way to be intentional and focused on what your job is. Yes, you are an employee of your company whether you realize it or not!

5.     Create a doable to-do list. Add tasks that can be done in an hour or less and can be checked off. If not, then break the task down more. Decide that being overwhelmed isn’t productive.

6.     Work in Pomodoros. This is a productivity tactic to help you stride purposely towards your projects’ completion. Set your timer and work in 25-minute intervals and get down to it. No fancy apps needed but they are available in iTunes.

7.     Take breaks. For every 25 minutes worked, take five minutes to recharge. This article suggests that working for 52 minutes and breaking for 17 is better. But either way, taking breaks leads to maximum productivity. Stay away from technology and go for a walk, meditate, or scratch your dog’s ears instead. Once a month, go on an Artist’s Date.

8.     Remove distractions. For me, this means no iPhone. Therefore, no social media, email checking the weather, etc. It’s beyond arms’ reach for certain periods of time. I also have a dedicated office space separate from the house and never get sucked into doing laundry. The point is, know your Achilles Heel of distractions and set an intention to not cave.

9.     Do work during work time and honor your boundaries. Working from 8-4p or 9-5p? Then don’t make personal calls, don’t catch up on Game of Thrones episodes and don’t get swallowed in Facebook or Twitter unless you are seriously marketing your services.

10.     Give yourself a break. Need to end work early? Give yourself permission to. Need to take a sick day because of your kid? Do it. Missed a self-imposed deadline? You’ll kill it next time. Do not use a stick against yourself. You wouldn’t do that to your dog, would you?

11.     Plan the next day. Review your to-do list, reflect on what went well on what didn't get done and tweak your processes in the spirit of continuous improvement. Create a doable (one hour tasks or less) and checkable to-do list.

12.     Transition out of your day mindfully. The end of the day has come. Close down tabs in your browser and put your computer to sleep. Clear off your desk and put your pens away. Make easy, gentle transitions so that you can ease into time with your loved ones. (this tip is from Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before)

Going into business means wearing many hats – leadership, financial, marketing, customer service.

No matter which hat we are wearing, though, our most important, foundational work we can do is our personal work and doing whatever it takes to be a great boss to ourselves.

What tips would you add to this list? Please share in the comments. Thanks!


Additional Resources:

Studies show that people leave bosses, not companies.

Studies also show that only 50% of business start-ups make it to the five-year mark and among the top reasons for failure is poor leadership.