Entrepreneurs today face a confusing set of circumstances. On the one hand, we’re constantly taught to value work-life balance, and to “work smart” as opposed to working hard; on the other, it can often seem like the only way to get ahead in any industry is to just buckle down and work long hours, day after day. It’s more than understandable to be feel caught between these two ideas. But I’d advise you to lead toward the former.
Valuing your work-life balance is simply a more sustainable path, not to mention a happier one. But how can you actually do it while you’re also seeking to grow a competitive business? To some extent, it comes down to shifting your own expectations. A July blog post about ‘How to Do Great Work By Doing Less and Resting More’ covered this idea by referring to a number of famously accomplished historical figures. By and large, they prioritised life experience, relaxation and wellness on a day-to-day basis, despite doing history-altering work. They accomplished this by working wisely — by understanding that combining working hours with ample rest and recreation actually yields greater creativity.
It’s actually an easy idea to understand. But it’s a difficult one to put into practice. For that reason, I want to suggest a few practical steps that may help you to “work less” as you’re starting your business. These are ideas that can help to expand your activity without simply requiring that you work longer hours.
1 – Take Accounting Seriously
Accounting is something you might not think about much until you’re actually up and running — at which point you might realise that it can take up a lot of time! Going through finances to determine what you’ve spent, what you’re making, what your budget looks like, and so on can be a headache, and it’s exactly the sort of work that can sap creativity and drain you mentally. So I’d recommend taking it seriously, and if possible finding a way to take it off your plate altogether. A Medium post on small business accounting discussed automating the accounting process and pointing out that there’s available software that can help you do this. This is an excellent idea to look into. It can turn a regular task that consumes hours at a time into something much quicker (and likely more thorough anyway!).
2 – Diversify Payment Options
Business owners think of all sorts of ways to bring in new customers, often through intensive, demanding marketing campaigns. But another way you might stand to convert more customers is by making a one-time switch to more diverse payment options. A FIS Global post about payments in gaming specifically described the idea as being able to “process everything that comes your way” — be it a normal credit card, an online processor, a foreign payment, or possibly even digital currency. That post was specifically recommending the idea to businesses in the gaming sector, where there are a lot of international transactions. But I’d suggest that being more open with your payment acceptance is wise for just about any entrepreneur. It’s relatively easy to do, and it will bring in more business from people who find they’re able to pay the way they want to.
3 – Prioritise Employee Happiness
When you’re just starting out, chances are you may be running your business on your own. If you do have employees though, or you plan on hiring in the near future, prioritising their happiness is another great way to boost the business! This does not mean you should plan to lean on employees so that you have to work less. Rather, it just means that if you keep employees happy, motivated, and satisfied, they’ll be much more likely to accomplish what they’re supposed to accomplish. This helps the business run more smoothly, saves you time fixing problems and micromanaging, and overall gives you greater flexibility with your time.
4 – Use Social Media Strategically
I’d also strongly suggest you get familiar with social media. You should set about learning not just how to use different platforms or how to speak on behalf of your business, but also how to make the platforms work for you. If that sounds a little fanciful, take a look at Entrepreneur’s social media hacks for businesses — most of which revolve around the very idea of putting the platforms to work. For instance, the hacks suggest you should use social media to promote blog posts (rather than posting excessive content directly on social media); they mention learning the value of a hashtag, or of influencers, both of which can help your ideas take off with minimal effort from you personally. Tricks like this can help you turn 15 minutes a day on social media into a powerful marketing effort on behalf of your business.
Each of these steps can help you to move closer to those coveted four-hour workdays that some of the most productive people in world history have thrived on. Accounting can be automated such that all you need to do is plug in basic numbers for a few minutes now and then. Payment processing can be upgraded in a matter of hours, and directly translate to more sales. Employee happiness is something you can work on in passing, and social media can be optimised to require minimal time. Certainly, there’s more that can be done beyond these ideas, but my hope is that this gives you a sense of how to wok toward working less.