Dear Aunty B,
I work in the sales industry and I have recently set up my own business in a bid to achieve a better work-life balance. As a sole trader, now everything falls on my shoulders and the prospect of not meeting an important deadline for a new client is freaking me out.
I know deadlines are an unavoidable part of being a business owner so I’m hoping you might have some advice.
New South Wales
First of all, let me say congratulations on joining the small business community. Owning your own business will be one of the hardest, but more rewarding, things you do.
Deadlines can be scary. They can derail even the most talented among us. I think it has something to do with expectations. We know there is someone else – whether it’s our boss or a client – on the other side of that date, waiting for us to deliver. We start to worry about not meeting this person’s expectations and that’s when the panic sets in.
So given the fear of deadlines often comes from ourselves, we have the power to change the situation. And I believe it is as simple as thinking about deadlines differently.
As Elizabeth Grace Saunders explains over at Harvard Business Review, think of deadlines as a “done-for-you prioritisation tool that tells you a given project is important to focus on since its deadline is earlier”.
“Deadlines can be energising and help you sharpen your focus, set priorities, collaborate effectively with a team, and get work done, all while keeping projects on track and on schedule,” Saunders says.
“Deadlines can also make it easier to honestly assess your workload. If you have something due on Friday and you’re aware that it will take all your available time between now and then, it’s easier to decline extra projects or meetings.”
As a business owner, the relationships you build with your initial clients are critical. So take a deep breathe and use the deadlines for their projects to prioritise your time.
And trust me, meeting those deadlines and growing your business will be a lot of fun.