Like most entrepreneurs and investors (and those of us who are both), I have a lot going on.
In a given day, I am running between internal meetings, calls with partners, negotiations with vendors, strategically thinking through the future of our company, Hydros, andmeeting with other founders, reviewing investments, and so on. This doesn’t include any of the extracurricular work that I do, such as being a board member for India Community Center or being a Nexus Global Youth Summit Ambassador for the city of San Francisco.
In the business world, I am not alone in any of these regards.
Many of my peers are just as busy—some much more so.
Yet, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. We all need to sleep, eat, shower, and take care of ourselves. We all have personal relationships we want to maintain, family members we want to spend time with, books we want to read, movies and TV shows we want to watch, etc.
The question is, “How?”
How do you make time for things that matter to you when your To Do list is seemingly endless?
Here are some foundational principles you should follow when it comes to executing quickly in your business.
1. Create an organizational structure that supports the demands of your schedule.
A founder or business owner is only as effective as the people he or she is surrounded by.
- Are the right people in the right roles?
- Do I have board members, investors, and/or advisors whose opinions I trust?
- Does the team have a strategic roadmap for where the company needs to go?
- Is there anyone here who needs to be micromanaged, and is causing a net-negative for the team?
These are the types of questions you need to be asking yourself constantly as a founder. Is this the right environment for you and what it is you’re trying to build? Are people adding or subtracting value from the equation? Where are there inefficiencies in the demands of your schedule, and what are the root causes of those inefficiencies?
When you solve these problems, you and everyone else on your team will have a clear path forward to execute quickly.
2. Train autonomy to work smarter.
Self-reliance is one of the most valuable skills you can have as a founder.
Which means it’s also one of the most valuable skills you can instill in your team.
The key to “doing more with less” is not working longer hours, giving up sleep, etc. In fact, all of those things usually lead to less effective work. Instead, the goal is to “work smarter,” which is achieved when you remove the single largest point of friction in any organization or business:
Asking for permission.
Every time someone has to stop what they’re doing and ask, “Is this okay? Should I keep going?” the process of moving forward is slowed—or sometimes, stopped altogether. Instead, what you want is to build an environment where people feel like they have the knowledge, the confidence, and the trust/autonomy to make decisions on their own.
3. Be transparent in ways that allow people to do their job at the highest level.
Founder/owner transparency can be a huge issue within companies.
Not from the perspective of employees feeling “in the dark” on what’s going on, but in the sense that the team doesn’t fully understand how different moving pieces are supposed to work together. Again, this is another point of inefficiency that leads to companies usually creating more work for themselves than they need to. A far better approach is to just make sure people’s understanding of the situation, the goals of the business, and their respective duties are clear—allowing them to focus all of their energy on executing (not “thinking about executing but being unsure as to how/why it matters”).
4. Take the training wheels off your employees and set boundaries.
Another big mistake founders make is feeling the need to be constantly available.
While it’s a careful line between ignoring your employees and setting them up to fail, versus giving them the resources they need in order to be successful on their own, at some point the training wheels have to come off. There needs to be a progression from starting within the business, getting up to speed, and then being responsible from there.
The reason this is so crucial is because the more a company matures, the less available founders can be. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. So if a team member is requiring too much hand-holding when the company is still small, that dynamic isn’t going to scale appropriately alongside the growth of the company.
These are the types of foundational issues that end up costing founders, teams, and businesses the most time, energy, and financial resources. They are also the differentiators between small companies that are able to drive massive results versus larger companies that are only able to drive incremental results.