Of all the resources available to mankind, time is the only resource that is given to all equally. We all have been allotted the same number of hours in a day –24 hours; everything else rests entirely on how we choose to use it.
What I choose to do with my time will determine the outcome of my life. If my life turns out well, it means I used my time well. Your time and your life are inextricably linked, what you do with one will be the direct outcome of the other.
As entrepreneurs, we are not excluded from the burden of time; rather, we bear more of this burden. As people who take on risk in order to make change happen, entrepreneurs are held more accountable for the use of their time.
Because humanity relies on entrepreneurs for the provision of goods and services that can improve the quality of life, the burden of time is heavier on the shoulders of entrepreneurs. We cannot afford to be lazy as entrepreneurs with the use of our time!
So here’s the million dollar question; how should entrepreneurs be spending their time?
In this unusual article, I will be sharing 5 high impact activities that successful entrepreneurs spend their time on. I call them the 5C’s of effective time management for entrepreneurs. Don’t just read this and keep it to yourself, help someone else out there by sharing this article on twitter, facebook, linkedin and google+.
The 5C’s Of Effective Time Management For Entrepreneurs
As an entrepreneur, here are 5 highly productive ways to be spending your time;
The first use of your time as an entrepreneur is for creation. The very word entrepreneur describes a person who undertakes risk for the purpose of creating something worthwhile. Entrepreneurs make ideas happen. That’s who they are, that’s why they exist and that’s what makes them different.
The day you cease to create is the day you start becoming irrelevant as an entrepreneur. Your purpose as an entrepreneur is the creation of unique and useful products or services that helps humanity solve their everyday problems cheaper, faster or better. If you don’t create, you’ve failed mankind as an entrepreneur!
How often should entrepreneurs create?
Creation is not something you schedule or plan to do; creation is something that gets done through you. So you must always remain in the creative process daily. How? By inventing play. How do you invent play? By searching for better ways and ideas for improving on what you currently do. In the invention of play, you must be willing to make mistakes, don’t be deterred, keep on playing with ideas for improvement.
Never stop asking; how can we serve humanity better? The more of this question you ask, the more ideas for improvement you’ll come up with and when these ideas flow through you, you must never hesitate to act on them however foolish they might seem.
The second use of your time as an entrepreneur is for consumption. What should you be consuming as an entrepreneur? Knowledge, ideas, thoughts and experiences. After creation comes re-creation – the refilling of used up energies. Every act of creation is emptying yourself into something else greater than you.
Creation is bringing ideas to life; you cannot bring something to life without giving up something in the process. Creativity is simply using up existing energy or resources for the production of more.
Consuming is how you sharpen yourself as an entrepreneur. It is time spent on personal development. As entrepreneurs, to do more we must be prepared to give up more and as we give up more it becomes naturally expedient that we take in more. You’ve heard of the saying; “you can’t give what you don’t have”.
Your time after creation must be spent learning, thinking and observing. All three are essential to your success as an entrepreneur. If you learn more, you will ultimately do more. If you think more, you’ll ultimately come up with more ideas for improvement. And if you observe more, you’ll ultimately discover more opportunities to exploit.
How often should entrepreneurs consume?
Every single day.
You must become an incurable learner, thinker and observer. You must keep on developing your natural talents, skills as well as business competencies. You must be open and aware to your environment, trends and your personal experiences, including your mistakes. They are all different forms of feedback that you must consume in order to produce more.
Read great books, blogs, magazines and reports; get a coach or mentor; listen to great tapes and watch informative videos. Whatever it takes, always strive to be better today than you were yesterday. The moment you think you’ve known it all, seen it all and have it all, and stop consuming, before long, you would have lost your capacity to create. As an entrepreneur, your cup is never full or empty; it must always be half-empty or half-full. You are never fully done, so keep on keeping on. The path of an entrepreneur is a never ending one!
No man is an island and one is too small a number to achieve greatness. The third use of your time as an entrepreneur is for collaboration. Because you cannot do it all by yourself, you must always be on the lookout for worthy vision partners to synergize with. Collaboration is the use of your time for networking and forming of strategic alliances.
As an entrepreneur, you cannot afford to be a jack of all trade and master of none. You need others to make ideas happen. Trying to go it all by yourself will only lead you to the deadliest business trap ever. So a good use of your time must be spent looking for other like minds to team up with and make great things happen.
Join trade associations or professional associations, attend industry building events, form strategic partnerships with other companies and build a global support team through the help of the internet via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Behance, and others.
Don’t waste your valuable time on the internet visiting one site or another; make use of that time to build strategic relationships with someone, a company, or group of individuals. To get to your dream, you need people way smarter than you in other areas. Spend your time finding, initiating and cultivating a win-win relationship with them.
How often should entrepreneurs collaborate?
As often as possible.
Always be on the lookout for potential vision partners. That’s what I call them –vision partners. If you have a vision, then you would need some partners for the fulfillment of that vision. I try not to use the term business partner, because it is not just about business, it’s about the dream or vision.
Collaboration is about how you can both promote one another’s causes. If money brought you together, trust me, money will easily drive you apart. But if it’s an idea, vision or dream bigger that what the both of you can achieve individually, then you’ve found yourself a worthy vision partner!
The fourth use of your time as an entrepreneur is for communication. Your ideas won’t speak for themselves; your products won’t speak for themselves neither will your vision. The first customer of your business is you the entrepreneur, are you happy with what you’ve created? Do you believe in what you’ve created? Can you bet your life on what you’ve created?
If yes, then a good use of your time must be spent spreading that idea, product, service, vision or dream. You must become the chief evangelist of what you’ve created. You must get out there and spread the word. Your time must be spent talking about whatever it is you do and how it is beneficial to the world. If you don’t, no one else will.
Communicating is the use of your time as an entrepreneur for marketing. You must become the spokesperson of your ideas, products, services, visions or dreams. The legendary Steve Jobs of Apple was exceptionally good at this. He literally made a festival out of everyone of Apple’s product launch. He put his money where his mouth is. He was a huge fan of his own creations and he never missed an opportunity to tell the world how great he thought of them.
How often should entrepreneurs communicate?
All of the time.
The world doesn’t care about your ideas, products, services, visions or dreams; they’ve got theirs to worry about. So you’ve got to make them care by showing them how much you care about them. The more of a big deal you make about your ideas, products, services, visions or dreams, the more confidence you give to the world to buy into your ideas, products, services, visions or dreams. And if they are as good as you claim, a trial will convince them.
The fifth use of your time as an entrepreneur is for controlling. After all is said and done, nothing no matter how great can continue to function without adequate attention. Every creation needs to be tended to properly. The whole of your time spent on the four previous highly productive activities would have been a complete waste if you overlook this last one.
Entrepreneurs make ideas happen and then build a business or businesses around those ideas. To ensure that what they have built lasts, entrepreneurs would have to spend their time keeping things in order.
Controlling is the use of your time as an entrepreneur for managing your business. You certainly don’t want things to fall apart in your business, controlling is how you ensure things go according to plan. It is the use of your time to create an organizational culture, and design an operational structure built around core business processes or systems of how your business can run successfully over a long period of time with or without your physical involvement.
If you don’t ensure what you created as an entrepreneur is built to last, then of all you’ve done, you would have only succeeded in failing mankind. As entrepreneurs, we can’t live forever, but what we spend our lives creating should stand the test of time. Steve Jobs is dead, but his legacy to the world Apple Inc. lives on.
How often should entrepreneurs control?
All the time.
You should always be on the lookout for lapses in your business and fix them. You should always look for more efficient ways to systemize work such that anyone can perform routine tasks successfully. You must always keep creating better ways of organizing work into processes and assigning capable people to supervise their performance. Control is a management function; and so it calls for a day-to-day use of your time as an entrepreneur.
How do you spend your time as an entrepreneur?
What other highly productive use of an entrepreneur’s time would you recommend?
Kindly share your views about these questions in the comment section below. Thanks, and don’t forget to share this unusual article with others, use any of the icons below.
All entrepreneurs create businesses.
So what makes the difference?
A set of unique attributes that clearly draws the line between ordinary entrepreneurs and their extra-ordinary counterparts. Don’t be alarmed by this, in the business world, there exists two kinds of entrepreneurs; those who do business as usual and those who don’t. Obviously, they will end up creating only two kinds of businesses.
For those who do business as usual, I refer to them as average or ordinary entrepreneurs and for those who do business NOT as usual; I refer to them as unusual or extra-ordinary entrepreneurs. The average entrepreneurs don’t really deserve much explanation, their title says it all – they are just average.
Meaning, at most, they are only capable of creating “good” businesses, but rarely ever create “great” businesses like the unusual entrepreneurs do. To know the difference between a good business and a great business, download the free ebook: the entrepreneur’s journey.
An unusual breed of entrepreneurs
Ever wondered what separates great entrepreneurs from mediocre ones? Ever wondered what makes entrepreneurs like Richard Branson of Virgin, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sam Walton of Wal-Mart, Tony Tsei of Zappos and the legendary Steve Jobs of Apple extra-ordinary?
It has been my central focus for the past 6 years researching and studying the lives and businesses of these unusual kinds. It’s been my goal to uncover those set of qualities that distinguishes them amongst others.
As a matter of fact, I created this site [naijapreneur] to chronicle and share freely with the world my findings on how these seemingly ordinary men and women create and build truly extra-ordinary businesses from scratch.
In this unusual article, I want to share as always some of my most recent findings about what it takes to become an unusual entrepreneur.
The 3-way approach
The making of an unusual entrepreneur is dependent on 3 critical factors;
- Character – the will to succeed
- Competence – the will to prepare
- Results – the will to execute
An unusual entrepreneur is a person of character. An unusual entrepreneur is not your everyday individual. An unusual entrepreneur is exactly the title they bear – unusual. Perhaps one of the best descriptions ever given about an unusual entrepreneur was given by one himself, Steve Jobs;
“Here’s to the crazy one, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round peg in the square holes …because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do!”
This is where it all begins –within. Every endeavour whether in life or in business begins first within and then without. The first order of things to be changed is you, the individual. Character is about your person; what stuff are you made up of? What do you represent? What makes you thick? What drives you? What guides you?
Character is about your will to succeed. A person can only go as far as his/her character allows. The journey within outweighs the one outside; no man can rise above the limits of his own character. In other words, your character determines your success either in life as well as in business. Who you are ultimately defines what you achieve –your success or failure. Defining character is the first step to greatness.
What is character?
Character means ‘wholeness’. It is the summation of several qualities, behaviours and thoughts that reveals the totality of a person. Character is not only a question of what a person does [action] it also includes both how you do [attitude] and why you do [thought].
Character is the whole of a person; an integration of “what you do” [actions, behaviours]; “how you do” [disposition, attitude]; and “why you do” [intention, thought]. It’s the summation of these three parts that makes up the whole of a person’s character.
How is Character formed?
Why do you think the way you do? Values. Why do you behave the way you do? Values. Values are a set of deeply held beliefs, principles, qualities, standards or virtues that inspire and guides how we do (attitude) and why we do (thoughts). Values are at the core of our attitudes, thoughts and dispositions; the combination of what we believe in and how we behave.
Habits are what you do (actions) as a result of what you believe and have accepted as true. Habits are your values in action. Your values are manifested through your habits. Your values are the source of your habits. If you have the wrong values, you will exhibit the wrong habits.
Here are some highly effective habits of unusual entrepreneurs;
Character focused on the internal requirements of an unusual entrepreneur; the personal development phase. That is, who they need to become on the inside in order to lead on the outside. Competence on the other hand, is where the unusual entrepreneur develops the basic business skills needed for exceptional performance.
Competence is the business development phase of an unusual entrepreneur. It explores the external requirements of entrepreneurship. That is, what you need to know technically in order to perform externally. If character is the personal side of business [personal development] competence is the technical side of business.
Character is how the entrepreneur develops the capacity to succeed. While competence enables the entrepreneur prepare for success by developing the required skills for succeeding in business. However important character is, without competence which is the actual knowledge and skill needed to start, run and grow a business successfully, an entrepreneur will only be a dreamer.
What is competence?
Competence is the ability and skill required to carry out a particular function, activity, task or set of duties. It refers to the willingness of the entrepreneur to prepare by gathering the skill set necessary for the unusual journey embarked on.
The competencies required by an entrepreneur to exceptionally fulfill the responsibilities of his/her position are of two categories; leadership and management. Starting a business requires entrepreneurial competence, working with people requires leadership competence and growing a business requires managerial competence. An unusual entrepreneur relies on both competencies to effectively and efficiently function in business.
Competence = leadership skills + management skills
I know you are the owner of your business no doubt, but you also need to understand this fact; building a successful business takes the collective efforts of others and not just the effort of only you the owner. It is not a one man show.
Before you chose to become a business owner, success was very much all about you and the result of your personal efforts, but now that you’re building your own business; success is all about others and the result of their collective efforts.
The success or failure of an organization depends largely on how well the entrepreneur performs as a leader. As an unusual entrepreneur, your role as a leader demands that you shift your focus from yourself and begin to focus more on others and what you can collectively achieve as a team.
The focus and function of the unusual entrepreneur’s role as a leader stems from his character as an individual. Without sound character the entrepreneur cannot function exceptionally as a leader. Leadership is about inspiring and motivating people towards the fulfillment of a predetermined goal, aim or objective; this is often referred to as VISION.
The combination of character mixed with vision is what makes an ordinary person become an extra-ordinary leader. You cannot be in front if you don’t have a firm idea of where you’re going [vision] and you cannot inspire others to follow if you haven’t first led yourself [character].
Character makes you a leader, but you need vision to lead others. Inspiring them to fulfill that vision is the job of a leader and the essence of leadership.
Every business has a way of operating that makes it completely different from any other business in the world. Ever wondered how some companies keep attracting and retaining high performing workers while others struggle to keep just a handful?
Have you ever walked into some business premises and without being told, you could feel a sense of intense energy in the air? How come some workers find fulfillment at their place of work and others don’t? How is it that some businesses in the same industries do better than others?
The answer to all these and so many more is management. As individuals are unique such that there are never any two people one hundred percent alike, the same is true of businesses regardless of whether they produce similar products or serve similar markets.
What makes the difference? Management.
After all is said and done, the day-to-day activities of a business purely rest on the competence of management. It’s possible for a business to have a great leader and a great product, but without great management practices in place, the business cannot exist for long.
Business is like a puzzle, the entrepreneur paints the whole picture but management is the one who begins to arrange them one after the other, putting each piece in its rightful place. Management puts the whole pieces together and brings everything into proper perspective by creating an organization.
Management takes everything the business is about and weaves it into one big and integrated whole known as organization. The creation of an organization is management’s core task. The fact that people congregate everyday to work in a particular business doesn’t necessarily make it an organization.
Management through the creation of an organization is the binding force that unites all the resources of a business; human, financial, material etc. together towards the achievement of a corporate end. To make a business into an organization is what management stands for. This is the essence of the unusual entrepreneur’s competence as a manager.
Result is the unusual entrepreneur’s ability to stimulate progress in the organization by creating an environment where change can thrive. He/she must inspire the whole organization to keep asking and answering this critical question; “what is our business and how well are we doing?”
Asking this question draws the entire organization back to the fundamental purpose of a business enterprise; to create customers by offering innovative products/services that meets their needs and solves their problems better. Making the organization capable of creating consistent change through innovation is the result the unusual entrepreneur must pursue. How is he/she able to achieve this? What are the tools for creating change?
Creation is the essence of entrepreneurship. The unusual entrepreneur is nothing without creation. He/she must be involved in a never ending process of creation by forming a creative habit. It is only through the habit of creating that the entrepreneur masters the art of creation.
I wouldn’t dwell much on this because there’s an unusual article that covers this subject of creativity, you can read it here –harnessing creativity for business success.
Creativity is about the unusual entrepreneur’s ability to see opportunities and generate ideas; risk is about the willingness to explore and exploit them. It’s one thing to be able to imagine innovation; it’s another thing to actually deliver it. The difference is risk.
Risk is the entrepreneur’s willingness to consistently invest time, effort and resources in the pursuit of change [ideas and opportunities]. Besides seeing opportunities, the entrepreneur must be willing to accept a high level of personal, professional or financial risk to pursue them.
Risk is the sacrifice the entrepreneur is prepared to pay in order to create change. The entrepreneur must never be afraid of sacrificing immediate gains for the pursuit of better ways of doing things and satisfying the customer.
Risk is the entrepreneur’s willingness to step out of his/her comfort zone in pursuit of change even though the outcome is not certain and unknown. It refers to the willingness of the entrepreneur to experiment with the idea generated and opportunity discovered. The entrepreneur must be willing to confront every uncertainty, fear and doubt and commit all that he/she is and has in pursuit of ideas and opportunities.
Over to you
Which of these qualities do you currently posses and which are you working on presently?
How have any of these qualities helped your entrepreneurial development?
What other defining qualities do unusual entrepreneurs possess besides those mentioned in the article?
Do you ever doubt yourself at times?
Do you ever wonder whether everything is going to work out fine?
Do you ever battle with the fear of the unknown?
Do you ever feel uneasy thinking about the future?
Without any hesitation in my heart, I know your answer to those questions will be a resounding YES!
Unless, of course you are not an entrepreneur.
Uncertainity, fear and doubt are constant buddies of an entrepreneur. They are the ever present uninvited friends of every living entrepreneur. As I put down these words, I am currently going through a hard time dealing with these 3 musketeers myself.
As I have learnt from life, all things both good and bad are all useful. The question in most case is whether we’ll be patient enough to seek out the usefulness during unpleasant times.
So the big question is this, what good does uncertainty, fear and doubt bring?
“You’ve got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly
satisfied is to do what you believe is great work and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you will know when you find it!”
–Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011
One man dies and the world stood still in honour of his deeds. How come? The answer is simple; he changed the world through the company he co-founded and the innovative products invented. Steve Jobs was no ordinary man nor was he an ordinary entrepreneur even. He was extraordinary, exceptional; the perfect example of what it means to be an unusual entrepreneur – he made his profits by being different and making a difference!
Steve Jobs is gone but left a big mark in the sands of time. He was truly an epitome of what this site stands for; unusual entrepreneurship – ordinary people who build extraordinary companies. I will miss him and so will the world. But beyond missing Steve, we’ve got a whole lot to learn from his life as entrepreneurs, some of these lessons are what I have tried to capture in this unusual article. There many more lessons to learn from his life as have been shared since his demise. Below are a few of my favourite ones;
As you go through this unusual article, I indulge you to read it with this question in mind;
“What will I be remembered for when I die?”
It is said that the only constant thing in life is change. Entrepreneurship is about thriving on change. A business cannot
continue to do the same thing every day and hope to remain competitive. In business as well as in life, change is not a choice, it’s a must. The options are very clear; innovate or die!
If there’s one aspect of business that can potentially increase your odds of keeping up with change as an entrepreneur, it is the creative side of your business.
Why do I make such a claim?
Being in business is all about meeting the needs and solving the problems of a particular set of people. These people are known as your target customers.
They have needs that arise as a result of certain problems they have and are in search of products/services that will solve their problems. These needs are always changing with time. Meaning, what may be considered as a need today, may turn out to be unnecessary tomorrow.
Success goes to the business and entrepreneur that not only keep up with these changes, but is also capable of pioneering some of these changes by constantly creating innovative products/services that eventually shapes the needs of the market.
A business is only able to achieve this through an unwavering dedication to creativity.
On Monday the 25th day of July 2011 happens to be my birthday and also the 1st year anniversary of naijapreneur Exactly a year ago I launched this site naijapreneur as my 26th birthday gift to the world. I wrote about this in the very first post on this site, you can read about it here.
This experience of using one’s birthday as a blessing to others by creating a completely new project to give away as a gift to the world has been a huge blessing indeed. In other words, my birthdays are not just a celebration of life; they are also an avenue through which to make a difference.
What is this year’s gift?
A 100+ page manifesto of unusual information for unusual entrepreneurs titled; “The Entrepreneur’s Journey”
In this ebook;
- You will learn how to awaken the spirit of business within by discovering your purpose.
- You will learn how to start and build a business that matters.
- You will learn how to change the world and profit from purpose.
- You will learn how to evaluate the progress of your entrepreneurial journey
To get the book, enter your name and email into the box below and it will be delivered straight into your inbox.
I first learnt about this idea of using one’s birthday as a gift to the world from Seth Godin and started applying it to my life 2 years ago on my 25th birthday. Last year when I shared this story on the launch of naijapreneur with some young Nigerian CEOs, a bank manager was greatly inspired by it that she decided to celebrate her 40th birthday in an orphanage with less privileged kids. Rather than ask invitees to give her a present, she asked us to bring the motherless children gifts instead.
Not only do I look forward to my birthday every July 25th, I also look forward to the completion of a goal I set for myself a year ago. In essence, my birthdays serve as a benchmark for evaluating the progress of my life. I have learnt to not only grow older, but striving to do better with each passing year of my life. With each New Year, I conclude an old goal and set a new one against my next birthday.
These goals however are not random in nature, rather they are strategic. The completion of one leads me closer to the fulfillment of my life’s purpose. I want to be able to look back at the end of my life and see that I did use my life for something SIGNIFICANT [unique and useful].
FREE ENTREPRENEURSHIP eBOOK: The Entrepreneur’s Journey
The entrepreneur’s journey is the most unusual journey of your life as a human being. It is often referred to by many as “the road less traveled”. The journey is not only tough, but also long. It is one journey that rarely has an end except death. The entrepreneur’s journey is a journey of a lifetime. It is one you are embarking on with your life!
In this free eBook, I will be showing you how To Awaken The Spirit Of Business Within, Build A Business That Matters, Change The World, Profit From Purpose, evaluate your progress and make a success out of this unusual journey. I will be showing you how to succeed in business without losing your entrepreneurial soul. I will be showing you how to build a business that fulfills your life’s purpose!
Inside every one of us lies the spirit of business. That spirit of business is our purpose. The particular assignment every one of us have been created to accomplish here on earth. Your purpose is the spirit of business within you!
There is a problem plaguing humanity and the solution to that problem lies within you. For every problem, there is a purpose. Problems don’t exist for nothing; they exist for a purpose – to be solved. The purpose of problems is to inspire the quest for a solution. Problems offer mankind the rare privilege to be creative.
Without problems, we humans face the inherent danger of losing our creative potentials. Thank God for problems, because they help unlock our creativity. In other words, they help unleash the spirit of business [purpose] within every one of us!
The entrepreneur’s journey is about unleashing the spirit of business within. It is about our lifelong quest as entrepreneurs of creatively coming up with unique and useful solutions to the problems plaguing humanity. It is about using your life to make an impact through your business.
It is about you and the contributions you want to make through the business or businesses you establish. It is about finding and fulfilling your life’s purpose profitably. It is about making profits by making a difference [creating unique and useful solutions to humanity’s problems]. It is about using your life to build a SIGNIFICANT [extra-ordinary] business that fulfills your purpose here on earth profitably.
It is about changing the world and profiting from purpose!
This manifesto is not written for everybody. It is written for only those who care more about the quality of life they live rather than merely focusing on survival [getting by]. This report is written for those entrepreneurs who are purpose-driven; I refer to them as unusual entrepreneurs.
It is not only a road map, but more like a compass that brings you back on course every time you seem to have lost your way. Believe me when I say this, you’ll definitely lose your way from time to time as you go along this journey of the less traveled.
ONE LAST THING!
This is a gift and its not meant to be kept, it is meant to be shared.
There are a million and one unusual entrepreneurs out there in your network, this manifesto was written strictly for them. This is my birthday gift to you, in return all I ask is that you share it with others out there as well. Help spread the word. Please retweet on Twitter, share on Facebook, Linkedin, google+ and forward via email.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Thank you and God bless.