Are You Effective or Proficient? How to Spend Your Time as an Entrepreneur

 Photo by Julia Raasch

Photo by Julia Raasch

Are You Effective or Proficient?

It’s easy to pretend that you’re successful, moving from one task to the next, staying busy, on the go, making moves.

Now, due to recent work changes, I have the opportunity to lay a different foundation for my life. It’s like planting seeds on alien soil. It’s not much right now but I know that with enough care and special treatment, life will flourish. 

Here’s what I keep asking myself—what should I be doing to get my projects to the next level? I’m sure a lot of people wonder how they should spend their time as an entrepreneur.

When you don’t have to clock in or race across town for an office meeting, you realize how much time there is in a given day. It sounds great, but along with the flexibility that being an entrepreneur offers, you're faced with problems that you don’t know how to solve. 

For example:

  • What’s the most important things I should be doing today?

  • How should I divide up my day?

  • How do I know if I’m closer to making my goals a reality? (even if there's no apparent signs of progress)

  • How do I know when I should change my approach?

I’m not a lazy person but I don’t like doing specific tasks if there are no results. That’s one of the most defeating experiences—to work hard on something and see no result. What was the point then?

So here’s a better question—what get results? To answer that, I have to back up further. What am I trying to accomplish? 

  • Being my own boss

  • Financial freedom

  • Peace of mind

  • Accomplishment and fulfillment

  • Confidence

Here's the blessing and curse of of being an entrepreneur—there’s not one activity that will act like a grenade that sets off a chain reaction of success. One thing at a time, over time, across multiple areas is how you build momentum. 

 Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

So, where do you start?

I see a much bigger problem at hand. I don’t know how to be effective. Ouch....What a crappy pill to swallow, but that’s the truth.

Being effective means that you know the right activity that will give you the results that you want. The real job of the entrepreneur is learning how to become effective in your space. 

I know how to be proficient on specific tasks; I can create content, edit videos, touch up photos, make and mix music, but I don’t know HOW to run my business.

My focus has been on proficiency, not on effectiveness.  

I want to be effective at grabbing business, generating revenue for my venture.

What is the best way to do that?

Going directly to potential customers, then selling them. I've had years of phone sales experience, but I feel paralyzed by my own project.

It's easier to be rejected if you’re promoting someone else's business, but when it's your name out there, that same rejection seems like it will cause serious damage. This is all in my head, playing out in a bunch of fictional scenarios. Here’s where the courage comes in.

As I write this, the breeze is picking up, black clouds circle overhead ready to drop bucketloads of water on the earth. It looks inevitable, but the wind could blow the clouds away before one drop of water hits the ground. It’s all potential energy.

It’s one thing to understand a message, then act upon it. I keep thinking about Ed Mylett’s talk at the 10X Growth Conference about how you have to be the champion of your cause.

 Photo by Hugo Jehanne

Photo by Hugo Jehanne

How to Spend Your Time as an Entrepreneur

It’s my pride in my own proficiency that's holding me back from being effective in business. The quality of my skills are not enough for someone to buy my product or service. The reasons to act are not self-evident to my customer. I'm assuming they are. 

I can’t expect people to perceive what I do through my perspective. I need to educate them on WHY they need to do business with me instead of expecting an outcome based on my own belief in myself. 

All products take sales and marketing to make them successful no matter how amazing they are. People’s first response to something new is skepticism, even cynicism. It’s my job to overcome these normal human tendencies by "spreading the good news" of how I can help people.

Why was I resisting this with my own projects? Leaving it up to a few pictures and some text on my website is not enough. If that was enough, Apple wouldn't need to create compelling commercials that depict a part of life that is easier or more fun with their products.

To Ed Mylett’s point, as an entrepreneur, you need to be a walking commercial of your product or service—share a message that compels  your audience to want to do business with you.

That’s why one-on-one communication is so powerful: confidence, eye-contact, charisma. What a great way to advertise by exerting energy to another person.

I write this to remind myself of everything I need to do. Everyone needs to be held accountable and writing things down is one way that I do it. Waiting for people to visit your website and hoping that they like it enough to buy something is not being the champion of your cause.

Telling everyone you know about your business, going outside and “spreading the good news” like a religious leader or ambassador, is what is required. It’s how you make the switch from being proficient to being effective.

It’s been my own pride in my work, thinking that the quality and reasons customers should purchase my program or invest in me is self-evident. 

Here’s my plan to amp up my effectiveness—open up the conversation with everyone I meet using active networking and sell them on how I can help them and why they should do business with me.

My goal is to shift from being a proficient technician to an effective entrepreneur. To be effective as an entrepreneur, it’s my job to go out into the world and make new connections that lead to business—not sitting behind my computer and creating content all day.

This responsibility is invigorating, terrifying as hell, and is like there's a giant cloud of success waiting to explode across this alien terrain.

The success grenade only detonates with the right sequence of actions from the user. Here’s to tending this little alien planet that I’m the master of. Now let me go learn how to be effective...