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Entrepreneur Diaries: Taking stock
By Brett Smyth, founder and CEO of EngageME.
December 10, 2013 4:38 by kippreport
December is a peculiar time to be an entrepreneur. You see, while the world slows down just a little to reflect on the year gone by, trawling through countless top ten lists and retrospectives that extol the highs and lows of 2013, the entrepreneur finds it difficult to look anywhere but ahead.
This bumpy, wonderful and crazy ride that is entrepreneurship is one that offers little chance for respite and reflection. In the all-consuming race to make a small business bigger, our milestones and achievements tend to be quickly passed over in favour of bigger goals and loftier dreams.
Sure, we secured a great client win, but what can we do to score another? Great, we launched a successful company blog, but how can we make it into an award-winning publication? We ask questions such as these to stay motivated, to keep the momentum on our side because we’re fearful of looking backwards, in case we trip and fall.
I only realised I was guilty of this kind of behaviour myself a few weeks ago, when I received an unexpected phone call. “You’re one of the nominees for Young Entrepreneur of the Year at this year’s Arabian Business StartUp Awards,” said the voice on the other end of the line. What? Seriously?
As it turns out, we’ve been so busy frantically trying to get this business off the ground that we’ve completely forgotten to take stock of all that we’ve achieved. We’ve lost perspective, measuring our successes against the standards of the companies we one day hope to be, rather than who we are today. For someone else to have to point this out was a big wake-up call for me.
Yes, it’s good to have goals, but it’s also important to celebrate what you’ve achieved. Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, and unless we pause to enjoy the victories along the way, it’s not going to be a very pleasant journey – for you or your employees.
Remember that, while the dream of becoming the next Apple or Google might be enough to get you out of bed in the morning, it isn’t necessarily sufficient motivation for your staff. While you’re living life in fast forward, it’s vital that you hit the pause button once in a while to appreciate how far you’ve come and give thanks to those who’ve helped you to get there.
Here are some tips on how to stop and smell the roses while at the same time remaining firmly focused on the future:
Keep an office scoreboard
It’s easy to lose track of your accomplishments if you can’t see them. That’s why it’s vital that your goals and achievements take visual pride of place in your office. By keeping a scoreboard that allows you to track your progress, you’ll be able to maintain high motivation levels in your team and ensure that those milestones don’t go unnoticed again.
Set short- and long-term goals
You might well be on the road to being the ‘next big thing’, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be noteworthy accomplishments worth celebrating along the way. Entrepreneurship is a journey and it’s important to take stock of the small victories, as well as the big ones in order to maintain perspective.
You’ll experience dark days – that pitch you worked on for weeks might lead nowhere, clients might no longer require your services – but hitting smaller goals regularly will help to keep your doubts in check and remind you that things aren’t so bad after all.
So, set a balance of short- and long-term goals. The train ride to success isn’t always the express, so you’d do well to take in the scenery as you go.
Celebrate during work hours
It might seem unthinkable, but the occasional celebration during work hours isn’t actually going to send your business spiralling into disaster. What it will do, though, is boost employee wellbeing and that’ll more than make up for the hours of productivity you’ll lose.
As an entrepreneur, it’s sometimes difficult to separate work and life, since, for you, they’re fundamentally one and the same. However, it’s important to remember that while your employees might be strongly invested in your business, to them, it’s still a job and they’re less likely to want to celebrate work achievements in personal time than you might imagine.
So, take a deep breath and call a time out, from time to time. It’ll help to keep your employees happy, motivated and driven towards achieving even bigger milestones in the future.