If you’re thinking about starting a business this year, you’re not alone. More than a third of career changers are leaving the “9-5” behind and leaping into a life of entrepreneurship.
Independence, flexibility and a lifestyle that lets you do what you love – it’s an alluring prize that attracts thousands every year. But like everything in life, there’s a trade-off. Running the show often means long hours, sacrifices with family and friends, and being stretched to the limit.
There is a better way. Smart entrepreneurs focus on what they’re best at, rather than trying to do everything. So how do you do what you love minus the headaches and the hassles? Here are some tips:
1. Do what counts
As a start-up, you’re probably wearing many hats: marketing guru, accounting wiz, sales gun and IT pro. Each involves different tasks and a different set of skills. Write down what you’re best at, and what you dread doing. Then focus on the first and delegate the rest to specialists. You’ll have the energy to do the core tasks that matter, and do them well.
2. Get time back
It’s Friday night, you’ve been working all week, and there’s still a pile of work to do. Where is that time going? If you’re letting admin tasks get the better of you, or spending 3 hours photo-shopping a logo, you’re holding your business back. You are the most valuable asset in the business and your job is to drive its success. Take the helm and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by routine tasks, or you risk losing sight of where your business is heading. There are great online time tracking tools like Minutedock and Harvest that can help you reclaim your time. You’ll see which tasks take the longest and just where those valuable hours are going.
3. Don’t get tied up
Are you throwing away money on agency fees? Do you really need that designer, the admin guy, and the three sales staff? Maybe today while orders are strong, but business demand changes rapidly and is difficult to predict. The resources you need during peak times tie up your liquidity when demand falls. This makes it hard to meet expenses, putting additional pressure on your business. You need to adapt as quickly as demand changes, and access the talent you need exactly when you need it.
4. Find talent you can count on
You’ve invested time, energy, and hard earned money to develop your business. But no matter how brilliant your idea is, it’s all in the execution. What distinguishes a successful launch from those that don’t make the cut is the focus and professionalism of the core team.
A great team consists of people you can rely on, ensuring business runs smoothly and costly mistakes are avoided. But how do you find them? Typically you shell out a few hundred dollars to post a job ad, then spend days trawling through your inbox to find candidates that seem to fit the bill. After a round of 15 minute interviews, you decide on who to hire.
But it’s not until weeks later that you see if they’re the right fit. What you really need is an accurate picture before you hire them. You can get this by searching freelance professionals online. See examples of their past work, skills they’ve been accredited in, and independent reviews of their performance to date. You’ll save yourself stress and frustration by ensuring you find the right person for the job.
Don’t be a slave to your business this year. Use the tools now available to delegate, manage your time, and access talent on demand. Love what you do in 2014.
Kyri Theos is the country manager for Elance Australia
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