So you’ve just raised $4M.
Beyond that, you’ve also established product/market fit, acquired your initial customers, and feel confident you have a real business with the potential for massive growth.
Next up? Laying out a great product roadmap, ramping up the hiring engine, and building highly-effective teams. Bring it on.
If that sounds familiar, you’re probably working 24/7. And depending on how long you’ve been at it, you may feel yourself inching closer and closer to burnout. Now let me share an uncomfortable truth: Overcoming your current challenges isn’t going to save you from burning out.
There will always be new challenges to overcome. The trick is developing a system to consistently meet and overcome these challenges without burning yourself out. And that’s why there’s never been a better time to pause and ask, “Have I done everything I can to increase my own productivity? Have I made sure my time and resources are being invested in the most efficient way possible?
Often, the honest answer for many startup founders is “no.” And if that’s the case for you, you’re working on borrowed time. Unless you scale yourself alongside your organization, it’s only a matter of time until burnout rears its ugly head.
To avoid this dangerous possibility, let’s talk about 3 tactics you can implement today to keep pace as a leader as your business grows.
#1: Ditch the “Scrappy Startup Entrepreneur” Identity
Yes, the reputation and stereotype is pretty cool.
It’s fun to work hard and accomplish amazing things on a shoestring budget, but those days are over. You’ve raised money, likely built a team, and may even have board members to report to. You’re operating on a whole new level, and it’s time to think (and act) like it because, as Marshall Goldsmith (@coachgoldsmith) says, “What got you here won’t get you there.”
So don’t be afraid to invest money into tools and resources that free up your time and make your job a little more efficient. Remember: You aren’t that scrappy founder anymore and there’s nothing noble about working 12 hours when you could get the same work done in eight; it just isn’t sustainable for you or your business.
For one of the most valuable investments you can make in your career, check out The #1 Shortcut to Reaching Your Fullest Potential as a Startup CEO and Leader.
#2: Invest in an Engagement Manager
Here at Mindmaven, we believe the best things in life come from relationships; and that’s why one of the most important first hires for a startup CEO is an Engagement Manager (EM).
An EM is a hybrid between a highly-skilled executive assistant and a chief of staff, and they exist to help you better leverage your time and network. Think of them like the stage manager in a Broadway production:
They operate behind the scenes but, even though they never take center-stage, their actions ensure the audience gets the best experience possible. Now, let’s make that relevant to you: As a startup CEO, your “audience” is your team members and your extended network.
By investing into them, they’re more likely to invest into you. An EM helps you accomplish this by focusing on two primary objectives: Freeing up your time and increasing the quality (and consistency) of your interactions.
Here at Mindmaven, we’ve developed dozens of workflows and systems to allow them to do just that, such as:
- Inbox shadowing: With this revolutionary email management approach, you can save 8+ hours a week simply by empowering your EM to manage your inbox as if they’re you.
- LoopLeverage: Imagine if you developed a reputation as someone who followed through on every commitment you made. With this unique task management approach, you can; all with minimal added effort on your part.
- Care for Culture: As a leader, you’re responsible for the culture of your business. By leveraging the power of an EM, you help ensure your company culture is one of gratitude, loyalty, and community.
To explore whether or not working with an EM is the right choice for you and your business, click here to set up a free consultation call with one of our coaches!
#3: Focus on What Matters Most (and Delegate Everything Else)
As an early-stage founder, when you want something done, you usually have to do it yourself. And while that mindset might have served you well at the beginning, it’s doing more harm than good now.
As a leader your time is as valuable as it is scarce, so it’s important to invest it only into the proactive tasks that matter most; because the truth is, you’re never going to “find” time to work on those important-but-not-urgent projects you’ve been putting off. You’ve got to make the time.
And the quickest way to make more time? Delegation. If something doesn’t need to be done by you, it probably shouldn’t be. Here’s a quick exercise to help you figure out what daily tasks you could delegate.
Create an Excel sheet and log every task you’ve completed within the past week that took at least 5 minutes of your time. Be as thorough as possible: Include everything from writing follow-up emails to managing your calendar to taking meetings and anything in-between.
Review those items and categorize them into three categories:
- Tasks you know should be delegated.
- Tasks you could be convinced to delegate.
- Tasks you are completely unwilling to delegate.
Rate each of these tasks on a scale of 1-3—with 1 being high and 3 being low—based on the amount of value they contribute to your startup’s success.
Highlight any tasks categorized “should be delegated” or “could be convinced to delegate” with a value ranking of “2” or “3,” and begin outsourcing these tasks to someone you trust, such as your Engagement Manager or Chief of Staff.
Keep in Mind: None of this Matters Unless …
The three tips above are all designed to help you free up more time. But, more importantly, they’re designed to enable you to invest that new-found time in the important tasks that move the needle the most.
None of this matters if you’re just going to fill up that time with more Slack messages, emails, and ad-hoc meetings. Now that you know how to make time, you need to invest it into the proactive tasks that make the biggest impact on your business’ success.
And to help you meet this need, we developed a time management approach called Whitespace Time. Put simply, Whitespace is all about focusing on what’s proactive and important, rather than what’s reactive and urgent.
Want to learn more? Download and read our free 27-page book, Whitespace Time Management: The Proactive Entrepreneur’s Guide to Owning Your Time and Mastering Your Priorities.