Being an entrepreneur is not as glamorous as it seems on paper. The life of an entrepreneur is structured to maximize all 24 hours in a day. Not only do you have to get motivated for what the day may bring, but you have to be willing to stretch your limits and do what you think is impossible. This could mean powering through 50 to 90-hour weeks, experiencing FOMO, and making constant sacrifices to reach your dreams. When you’re an entrepreneur, you do what it takes to make progress every day because your mission is greater than even yourself its business. Hustling doesn’t end up being a word anymore, it becomes your lifestyle.
Not one day is the same when running an enterprise. Due to the nature of our job, entrepreneurs wear many different hats. From sales to marketing to spokesperson and everything in between. In many ways, this is why entrepreneurship is attractive to me. One day I can be forging new partnerships and meeting some amazing people to add to my network, the next could be interviewing for new staff, responding to emails, and conducting research or heading meetings. Entrepreneurship is truly for the determined, as it can be taxing, exhilarating, and unbelievably rewarding all at once.
Establish a Routine
Entrepreneurs are some of the busiest people around. I might spend my mornings catching up on emails and calls at a coffee shop while enjoying an extra-hot soy latte. Other tasks might include client meetings or heavy calendaring to plan for my schedule (plotting for next couple weeks). It really just depends, so I make sure to project manage myself so it doesn’t get too crazy. It’s no understatement when I say that a day in the life of an entrepreneur is chalk-full of business decisions, research, and networking. There is so much to do and so little time to do so, we can easily get off track and distracted with non-essentials. That’s why it is extremely important to establish a routine and stay disciplined enough to stick with the routine.
When it comes to establishing a routine, find one that balances your personal life and work habits. For example, if you have a family and happen to wake up early, then you probably want to start early in the morning before anyone in your household wakes up. If you’re more productive at night, then set up a routine based on being a night owl. By establishing a routine, you can better prioritize your tasks and operate at your optimal capacity. Perhaps you can set up themed days to focus on one task at a time. Monday might be managing and running the company, Tuesday for growth (marketing and communications), Wednesday for developers and partnerships, etc.
I’ll share with you my strategy for time management as a lifestyle entrepreneur. I currently work at Sephora as a Project Manager . I also run a small online business while building out a personal blog. How do I do all three?! Well, the short answer is I remain disciplined and focused while at the same time delegating work to prevent burnout. Sometimes I feel like I’m stretching myself very thin, but I realize that it takes time to lay the groundwork. To do so, I make those necessary first steps to achieve my ultimate goals.
I ran my first business as a Health & Beauty Consultant for Usana Health Sciences between 2015-2017. I had no idea of the concept of time management, but knowing what to do and when to do it is one of the most essential things to know in running a business.
It’s easy to say I’m going to do “A” one day and “B” the other day. But entrepreneurs need to take that one step further and strategize why one needs to completed before the other. I also realized that as a sole entrepreneur running her own business with full responsibility, I had to do everything! In the beginning, it was great, I got to learn so much, plan and execute what I wanted, but because I maximized fully, I burnt myself out and ran myself to the ground (in a short period of time). Eventually, I lost interest in what I was doing and my health paid a price. But this was a great learning lesson that would set me up for my second business and venture, Kalon SF.
When starting Kalon SF, I made tremendous efforts to pace myself and correct mistakes I made in the past. Currently, I have two interns managing social media channels and promoting marketing efforts. Instead of focusing on doing the work, which I know I can easily do, I delegate and manage. I keep my interns engaged, assign projects, and focus on the overall strategic initiatives and vision of my company. This has helped me manage my sanity, especially in between all the things I’m involved with. Overall, I’m very glad I adopted this best practice. I have time to build partnerships and look for a potential co-founder who shares in my mission and vision.
Hustle but Don’t Forget to Sleep
Since graduating college in 2014, I have always worked in and out of the corporate environment. By now, after several different positions and industry experiences, I know that I get bored easily. Therefore, entrepreneurship becomes a solution for me to pursue passion projects that offer stimulation and purpose.
Ironically, when I have total time and freedom, I feel less efficient and unmotivated. I usually end up getting discouraged and depleted of energy. Somehow, having the structure of corporate has helped me make progress in my business. In retrospect however, the progress has been much slower since I’m spending most of my time laying the foundation.
Even though there is a lot on my plate to manage, I have enjoyed the process of it all. I have learned to treat it more like a journey than a destination. Funny enough, I remember this applying even when I was in college. I was always most productive when I was going to school full-time and working part-time. Which really goes to show that maybe it’s meant to be for me to build my business while climbing the corporate ladder!
Having a corporate career allows me to learn new things and have a steady income while building my business. When I work at Sephora, I’m always behind a computer so when I’m not taking care of project updates for my beauty brands, I write or research for my business projects. Once I get off work, my mind transitions to catching a meeting or two, writing blogs, and/or meeting up with my interns to co-work.
All in all, I may be exhausted when I finish my day, but I make sure to get good rest. For me, I know 9-10 hours of sleep is optimal, but I can get by with a minimum of 8 to function well enough. I also know that I’m most efficient between the hours of 9am-3pm and again between 7-10pm, so my work must be done within those parameters.
There is an art to getting ready for tomorrow the night before. I know for a fact that I will be more likely to wake up and start on the project at hand if it is on my tasks from the night before. Before I go to bed, I will align my priorities so that I’m not wandering aimlessly the following day with no plan. With this mindset, unfinished work will not accumulate, and I end up being more efficient in the long-run. I live on my google calendar, and I love it! As an entrepreneur, it is necessary to learn how to balance your professional aspirations with your personal commitments.
I embrace entrepreneurship because of the value it has added to my life: not only professionally, but personally on so many levels – i.e. leadership, time management, branding, resilience, and strategic thinking.
Spend Quality Time & Recharge Yourself
Finally, spending quality time with your loved ones and recharging your batteries are two things that remain on the forefront of my mind. When I spend time with family and friends, it not only clears my head, but they also never fail to remind me what I’m fighting for and why. Knowing your why becomes your driving force, and it’s crucial to have people in your life who can help you remember that.
As for recharging your batteries, I always make sure to enjoy whatever it is I’m doing. This could mean going on a solo trip to your favorite city, taking time to smell the roses, chatting with an old time friend on the phone, going for a bike ride, etc. Because taking these “breaks” tend to relieve stress and clear your mind, and maybe even end up inspiring you indirectly. By making time for yourself, you will be better prepared in tackling the next project. And this goes for wearing a kick-ass outfit to a happy hour after work to rewind after a busy day or attending a networking mixer to close your day out.
The road to success is usually a marathon and not a sprint. Experiencing ups and downs – both daily and over time – is part of the process. Learning how to navigate them while surviving and thriving is what matters.
In realizing that ups and downs are not permanent, you can choose to use your circumstances in a way that helps you rise not sink you. To re-cap, to succeed as an entrepreneur, 1) make sure you establish a routine and stick with it, 2) embrace the hustle mentality and lifestyle, but never lose sight of your sleep, and 3) spend quality time with those that matter in your life because it’s necessary. We are all human. Yes, business is important, but YOU are even more important. Take care of your health. Enjoy the process. Live a little. Celebrate those successes along the way, even if they are small. Have a positive attitude. Go exercise. And last but not least, don’t stop believing in yourself!