Making mistakes is part of every new entrepreneur’s journey. In some cases, errors could even lead to valuable lessons that can propel you to the next stage of your business.
However, there are certain types of mistakes that are downright counterproductive, and avoiding them can put hours back into your day.
Here are 4 of the top productivity-killing mistakes new entrepreneurs make and how to avoid them.
1. Not having a roadmap
Being action-oriented is a great trait to have, but taking action without a clear strategy or roadmap will lead to a lot of wasted time and effort.
“In my opinion, executing too quickly without fully understanding and exploring the end goal as well as not seeing where the execution is fitting into the overall vision is one of the biggest time-wasting mistakes,” says Mark Velarga, Director of Digital & Content Marketing at the global packaging firm PakFactory. “It doesn’t promote prioritization, and it can easily get you off track.”
“[The] best way to prevent this is by fully mapping out your goals for your business in the most specific and measurable way,” he advises.
“You can then branch out those goals to smaller and actionable tasks. Schedule those tasks and create milestones daily, weekly, and monthly. Before you know it, you’ll be getting closer and closer to achieving your business goals.”
2. Refusing to delegate
Being a new entrepreneur often requires you to take a “do it yourself” approach in various aspects of your business. This makes sense for the most part — after all, when you’re on a limited budget, you can’t afford to hire a team to work for you.
However, you also need to recognize that in some instances, doing everything yourself can do more harm than good. Spending too much effort on tasks that aren’t making you money or aren’t in your zone of genius is a poor use of your time, and is highly unproductive.
So, how do you determine which tasks to spend your precious time on? Start by making a list of the critical functions to complete each day or week. Identify the tasks that have the most impact on your business growth and revenue, then prioritize them.
Now, if you don’t have time to complete the rest of the tasks, then consider delegating them to others. Note that delegation doesn’t have to be expensive. You can use contractors or service providers to cross things off your to-do list.
Need an assistant to help with answering emails, booking travel, or coordinating events? You can find affordable contractors on platforms like Upwork, or you can use a solution like Fin, an on-demand virtual assistant.
3. Failing to automate and integrate
There’s value in learning the ropes and figuring out the manual side of things, but at some point, you’ll need to automate your business processes. Doing so will not only save you time, but it will minimize human error and help you run a tighter ship.
You can determine which processes to automate by taking note of any manual tasks that you’re doing in your business. What activities require you to write things down? Do you have workflows that require data-entry? Are there any areas in your business that are fraught with human error?
The answers to these questions will point you in the right direction. For example, if you keep going back and forth with clients to schedule appointments, consider automating the process using a scheduling app like AppointmentPlus or Calendly.
Spending way too much time tracking your finances and expenses? Get yourself a robust accounting app or expense management system.
The next step is integrating different solutions. You should get your apps to “talk” to each other, so information flows smoothly from one platform to the next.
Here’s an example: let’s say you’ve automated your appointment scheduling process by allowing clients to book meetings online, but you also need to take payments after each booking. You can streamline both the scheduling and payment processes by integrating your appointment platform with your payment provider.
That way, you won’t have to initiate payments for each appointment manually, and your clients get a better booking experience.
See if you can do something similar in other areas of your business. Find two related tasks or processes, then connect the apps that you’re using to save even more time.
4. Wasting time comparing yourself to other entrepreneurs
Comparing yourself to other entrepreneurs is one of the most counter-productive things you can do.
“The biggest waste of time I’ve noticed for myself is spending too much time on comparing myself to other entrepreneurs which has led to working too much ‘in’ the business rather than ‘on’ the business,” shares Kea Meyers Duggan, founder of The Aha! Project.
Duggan, a Certified Professional Coach who helps professional women get “unstuck,” says that you can prevent unhealthy comparisons by “staying in your lane.”
“Avoid comparing your chapter 1 with another’s chapter 5, 10 or 20,” she adds.
Next, Duggan recommends being “intentional about setting aside time for administrative duties (this includes social media) and strategy.”
“Admin should only be a small portion of your time. If you can farm admin out, do it! If not, don’t let it become your whole day.”
Have you committed any of these errors? What did you do about them? Let us know in the comments.
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