Every small business knows the struggle of a one-man shop. The list of things to do is never-ending, and unfortunately as an entrepreneur, often you have to go it alone. So when does quantity over quality mean error over accuracy? Managing the finances, marketing the business, analyzing performance: all in a day’s work when growing your start-up. When does it get to the point that you can’t do it all, and what do you do when there’s no one to delegate to? Most people would agree that they’d prefer quality over quantity, but what about those times when there’s nothing to deprioritize in the quantity of things to do? While it feels good to get everything done, it doesn’t when an error is glaring back at you because you were forced to rush through. In cases like this, be honest with yourself:
Is there anything you can cut back on?
80/20 didn’t become a rule of thumb for nothing. So what’s the 20% of your business that you should be spending time on? If you can’t do it all and you can’t share the responsibility, focus on the key areas that are driving the greatest success and do them accurately. Making your way through all tasks, but only half done, is far less impactful than completing the most important things well.
Can you manage your time better?
In addition to concentrating on what drives the value, manage the precious time you have. Being a successful entrepreneur or business decision maker often means you have to perform a variety of tasks, strong suit or not. Some people can manage their time very effectively by scheduling every meeting and task down to the minute, but this certainly isn’t a trait of everyone. So think about your work style – do you start working on a project but pick up your phone on its first ring? Maybe you have a habit of checking e-mail the moment it arrives in your box. It can be easy to let time get away, but by managing the time you do have, you’ll find you can be more productive – and ultimately need less time altogether.
Is it time to suck it up and ask for help?
Doing it all alone can be overwhelming, even for a seasoned entrepreneur or professional. Culture has it that asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness, but it can also be a form of strength when you know your limits. In our to-do society, we often take on more than we can manage, and only when we are knee-deep do we start to reevaluate. At that point, it’s often too late and you find yourself just trying to complete a project rather than do it right. If finances are a concern, there’s always an eager student looking for a mentor and an opportunity to learn.
Who decides if it’s a flop or masterpiece?
You certainly don’t want the second person who sees your work to be a client. Often if you’re going solo, there’s no one to review your latest effort, and your customer is seeing a first draft rather than a final result. Creating checks and balances will help to yield positive results, and having an old friend or colleague to call on doesn’t hurt.
So how do you determine the right balance of quality versus quantity, and what tactics do you follow to accomplish the tasks at hand?
As written for YoungEntrepreneur, April 3, 2011