I had never before thought of myself as a leader, but once I came online in 2006 I realized that leadership as an entrepreneur is a requirement for success at any level. As an entrepreneur, you’re the boss, whether you’ve thought about it like that or not. It’s all down to you. What you buy, how you spend your time, when and where you work. If you’re an employee, then you rarely have control over any of these things, never mind all of them.
As the boss, you’re the leader. You decide the vision for your enterprise, whether it’s in the private or public sector, whether it’s a company or a charity. You decide the direction that everyone will go in, and the strategies for getting there. And you decide what resources will be necessary to support everything, no matter what it is.
Bigger organizations might have a board of directors. If you’re a solopreneur, then it’s likely to be just you, which makes your job as the boss all the more challenging. That’s because you really don’t have anyone you can talk to – to bounce ideas off of or to get advice.
If you work online, then it’s even more difficult because those who have offline businesses don’t understand what you have to do to have one online. Mention something as basic as an autoresponder (I recommend starting with AWeber’s free version) or a payment link, and their eyes glaze over. It’s just not as simple for you as attending a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
The job of a leader is about as lonely as it gets. You’re at the top. You’re doing what you always wanted to do, which is to be your own boss, but now that you are, you may not be sure what to do. If leadership as an entrepreneur is necessary, where do you start? One way I began was to start to think about myself as being “the toughest boss I’d ever had.” It was easy for me to anchor this to Mrs. Kravitz, an administrator at one of the schools where I had worked as a teacher. Then I reframed how tough she had been on me to… “she saw great potential in me and couldn’t bear it when I wasn’t performing at my best.”
Another thing you can do is to think about who you’ll serve; who your customers will be, and how you’ll reach them. That doesn’t mean creating a narrowly-defined avatar, though as your business develops one may emerge. Instead, it means identifying the problem that a lot of people want to solve.
It’s likely that there will be one overarching product – a coaching or mentoring program, for instance – that will enable people you to help people to reach their goals; and you’ll probably also have several smaller ones to support it; but it will be up to you to decide what the primary product will be and the ancillary ones as well.
You’ll also be responsible for marketing your services. That could mean creating a list, writing emails, and building a presence in social media, through videos or advertising. It might mean writing articles on your blog or for some other platform. Also, you’ll have to handle invoicing and perhaps payment to subcontractors or affiliates.
The leader has an enormous job to do, and ultimately – as the boss – it comes down to you to do it. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword: You get to do all these things because you’re the leader of your own business, but you also have to do them because they’re your responsibility.
Leadership as an Entrepreneur Demands Planning
Whether you’re acting in the role of leader, manager, or employee, you have a variety of responsibilities that you have to fulfill. As the leader, you have to set the vision for your enterprise. As manager, you have to oversee that operations to make it happen; and as an employee, you have to show up every day and do your very best, because the company depends on you to do so.
In each of these roles, there are certain tasks that have to be done: some daily, others weekly, and still others at longer or at infrequent times. You have considerable autonomy, too, which means that although the activities are different, it’s your responsibility to decide when you’ll do them. The only exception is that, as an employee, you may need to do some things ahead of others so that the managerial or leadership tasks that you must also do can be done when they need to be.
Now all this may seem unnecessarily complicated if you’re an organization of one, but it’s still helpful to think of things in these terms because there will be a certain order in which things need to be accomplished.
Creating a Schedule
The best way to plan your work is to create a schedule. Instead of being a “to-do” list maker, become a schedule creator. That way you know in advance on what days and at what times you’ll be doing certain things. It also ensures that nothing important is overlooked. When you don’t have a schedule, then you have to rely on your memory to make sure that you do everything. As your memory isn’t perfect, you’re bound to forget things, especially things that are important, and that’s because you can’t hold everything in your conscious mind all the time. Some things, of necessity, will slip into the background.
Schedules can always be changed, and it’s likely that you’ll revise yours regularly, but that’s not a reason to not have one. They’re still very valuable tools. How can you create a schedule? Easy.
You can create a spreadsheet that breaks up your day into half hour increments or use an online app that does it for you. First put in the pre-scheduled things that you can’t change. These may include online calls with your coach, doctor’s appointments, or something else. Everyone has times in their days when there are things they have to do and can’t change.
Once you’ve put those things in, you can insert the various tasks that you have for the role that you’re filling. For instance, you may schedule time to think about the direction of the business and make plans to do so, or you may need to do some market research, or maybe you just need to gather together some information for your accountant. You’ll need to schedule these activities to that they’re all done in a timely manner.
It can be useful to add up the number of hours that you devote to each role so that one doesn’t get more time than it should.
You also need to plan to take breaks. It’s all too easy to schedule every minute of every day. And you’ll know from your own experience that if you plan things too tightly, that you’ll soon get behind because work often takes longer than you expect. A flexible schedule will enable you to plan the work you need to accomplish each week and give you the time off that you need as well to rest and recover.
I’m author, publisher, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and I would love to connect further with you. If you have an interest in finding the right JV (Joint Venture) partners to help you skyrocket your way to success, please check out my training at JVs Made Simple so you may get started right away.