This was originally published on AllBusiness.
As a female entrepreneur, I’m often guilty of spending time working in my business, rather than on it, as Michael Gerber taught us not to do in The E-Myth. And yet, we need to keep an eye on the future, don’t we, particularly if we want to grow?
Here are a few ways we can both get the job done day to day while still moving toward accomplishing our goals.
1. Think Big
We can postulate all day long about why this is, but I believe one reason is that women may not aspire to large enough goals. We play small, maybe because that’s what we felt we had to do when we were employees, and we don’t always set our sights high enough.
Let’s end that trend, shall we? Let’s dream big. Rather than thinking, “My business will never hit that revenue goal,” let’s make a plan for how to get there within a few years.
I’m a big believer in the power of positive thinking. It may take some mindshifts to believe that your business can achieve loftier goals, so start by setting manageable ones. Want to make six digits? First set a goal to increase revenues by 20% within a year. Then another, and another. Before you know it, that goal will be checked off your list.
2. Plan for the Long- and the Short-Term
The short-term is often easier to plan for because the gratification of results comes sooner. Want to sell more products? Have a sale. But think about your five-year plan? That takes a bit more imagination.
And yet, everything you do today contributes to that long-term goal, so establish it and keep it in mind as you work on shorter-term objectives.
3. Stop Doing Business Like a Man
Many of us earned our corporate chops surrounded by men, and that may have rubbed off on us in terms of how we do business. But we’re coming back around to the feminine side of entrepreneurship. It’s not necessary to be brusque and devoid of personal connection to run a business. (Sorry, guys! I don’t mean to insult you!)
Successful women in business know the value of interpersonal relationships. Of taking time to check in with each employee. Of providing heartfelt (not harsh) feedback. Let’s use it.
4. Let Go of Doing it All Yourself
I’ve definitely been guilty of this one. When I started my marketing firm, I didn’t have any money (at least, no money I wanted to give other people for things I thought I could do myself). So I designed my own logo and website.
I still cringe at the terrible job I did.
It was a valuable lesson in hiring people who were smarter than me in certain areas. It’s well worth the investment to have a professional designer make you look sharp online. Or to hire an accountant who can make sure you don’t rouse the IRS dragon. Spend the money. You will never regret it.
5. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Community
If you’re like me, you have learned everything you need to do your job on your own. I’ve read more business books and blogs than I can count. But something I’ve realized lately is that, while knowledge is necessary, being a part of a community is equally valuable.
Find your tribe. That might be other women in business or entrepreneurs in your field. Find masterminds and meetups that provide you the opportunity to bounce ideas off of others or to simply network.
6. Stop Telling Yourself Your Business isn’t Real
If you run a business from home part-time, you (or your family) may treat it as a hobby. You may not take it seriously and therefore not prioritize it over other areas of your life.
There’s a term, “lifestyle business,” that I have always resented. In my experience, people have used the term to dismiss a business, to treat it like I’m knitting doilies in my spare time and selling them for a quarter.
What the term should mean is that you have a great work/life balance. You have time to make clients happy and then pick up your kids after school. That doesn’t mean your business isn’t real. It just means you work smartly.
7. Find Productivity Tools that Work for You
Staying organized can be a challenge for many women in business, but I say, with the right tools, you can change that. The key is finding the tools that make your life easier, not the ones everyone else uses.
You might be an analog girl and prefer to write appointments in your paper calendar. I keep my tasks in my calendar and mark them as complete when they’re done. I’ve also used Asana to keep track of daily tasks.
8. Raise Your Rates
I have no idea what you’re currently charging clients, but I can almost guarantee there’s room for you to charge more. It took me far too many years to get this right (see #1). The sooner you get paid what you’re worth (which is likely far more than you think), the sooner you can work less and make more money. Who doesn’t want that?
9. Create Processes for Everything
You probably do a dozen things every day that could be done by others—if only they knew how. Take time to write, step by step, the process for each task you have. Make it foolproof. That way, when you’re ready to hire help (that’s up next), training is a breeze and you spend less time answering questions.
10. Find Really Good People to Work for You
I know it’s a pain to put out a job description and interview people when you can manage things on your own, but trust me: it is worth the time you invest to find even one person you can essentially clone to do some of your tasks and take the pressure off of you.
Be crystal clear about what skills and experience this person should have. No, they don’t have to be just like you, but they should be able to follow directions (that’s why you created those processes!) and take initiative when necessary. Take your time training them to set them up for success. Then, take advantage of the fact that you now have someone to lighten your load so you can work on your business!
There’s no one way for women in business to achieve goals. The key is knowing what works for you, being open to outside help, and finding strategies to be more productive.