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Becoming an entrepreneur is not an easy, or stress-free thing. It requires a good deal of work, dedication, time, and focus. Not only that – it also requires you to be comfortable with failure, and with constantly picking yourself up over and over again, when you get knocked down by circumstance.
For all that, there are many reasons why people choose to become entrepreneurs, and to start their own businesses. Increasingly, large numbers of stay-at-home parents create their own web-based businesses, as a way of earning money on the side, developing their skills, and staying engaged with the workforce, while still being present in the lives of their children on a daily basis.
Then you have the large collection of young entrepreneurs who grew up as “digital natives”, and who now dream of progressing to the status of “digital nomads.” Thanks to recent innovations in modern technology, it is now well within the realms of possibility for people to travel the world, more or less constantly, while working on their businesses.
Entrepreneurial careers certainly can bring many benefits. But the success rates for start-ups is low, and the vast majority of entrepreneurs who eventually “make it” first have to deal with a heavy dose of setback, failure, and uncertainty.
If you find that your entrepreneurial career has hit a roadblock – and that’s by no means uncommon – it’s important that you have some strategies at hand for getting things back on track. Here are a few tips for setting things right, if you find yourself in that situation.
Get really serious, and ask yourself “how much time am I wasting?”
No one likes to think that they may be wasting time flagrantly, and sabotaging themselves in their professional aspirations as a result.
All the same, the uncomfortable fact of the matter is that most of us waste an exorbitant amount of time each day, that could be much better spent on things such as developing our businesses, or even interacting with our families.
The author Cal Newport, who has previously written on the importance of doing “deep work”, instead of “shallow work”, has recently released a book titled Digital Minimalism, which looks at just how much time we all tend to waste as a result of digital apps, tools, and services.
The conclusion is that… We waste a lot of time. According to some surveys, contemporary Western teenagers can spend up to 9 hours a day on digital devices. For the parents, three or four hours a day is completely within the normal range.
The first thing to ask yourself if your business is faltering, is “am I really spending enough time working on this? Or am I wasting a bunch of time on things like social media?”
If you have reason to believe that you are spending an unproductive amount of time on distractions of various sorts, you might want to adopt a bit of “digital minimalism” in your own life.
At the very least, you should seriously audit your time, and cut out distractions when and where you identify them.
Start getting comfortable with boredom, and do some “deep work”
No one likes being bored. That kind of goes without saying, right?
And yet, the author Cal Newport – mentioned above – has written extensively on the importance of getting comfortable with boredom, in the pursuit of maximal productivity in life.
In his book “Deep Work”, Newport argues convincingly that the constant everyday distractions that we are exposed to in the modern world, trains and conditions our minds in such a way that we find it just about impossible to actually focus on anything for a significant length of time.
This is potentially deadly. As Newport observes, it is largely the ability to focus on one task, undisturbed, for a good chunk of time, that leads to success in complex endeavours such as entrepreneurial business schemes.
If your entrepreneurial business has stagnated, or hit a roadblock, the issue might be that you have been putting in too much “shallow” and not enough “deep” work.
“Shallow” work refers to those things that we can do with divided attention, that don’t take very much cognitive processing power. “Shallow” work is the work that keeps us “looking busy”, but that doesn’t actually advance us in any meaningful way. “Shallow” work could mean, for example, spending hours meticulously organising your email inbox.
“Deep” work, on the other hand, is the complicated stuff. It’s the stuff the requires some serious thought, skill, and attention. Where shallow work might be collecting snippets from different blog posts, deep work is writing a book.
The important thing is that deep work is the kind of work that yields success in business – and essentially all other endeavours in life. These days, shallow work is ubiquitous. We find it everywhere, and just about everyone does a lot of it. In order to stand out and make a real, meaningful impact, however, it’s important to get comfortable with boredom and to do some “deep work”.
Consider a return to education – or in any case, retraining
In some cases, stagnation in your business might be a sign that you need to acquire new skill sets, deepen your understanding of a given area, or even return to education.
“Knowledge is power” goes the old saying, and this is certainly true in business. People who understand their industry better, and who have a better idea of client psychology, and needs, are inevitably going to do a better job of selling their services and becoming a force to reckon with in their field.
It might be that doing an online MBA could unlock a whole array of new doors for you. Then again, it might be the case that you don’t need to go back to full-time education at all, but need to learn a new coding language, or consider attending a course on how to effectively manage SEO, craft your online writing, and so on.
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