Let's say you’re one of those people who can talk on the phone while typing an email, sipping a cappuccino and brainstorming ideas for a new product. You’re used to dividing your attention among several tasks. But is multitasking the best choice when you’re the owner of a budding startup?
Or does it distract you from leading your company in the most effective manner? Three tips for curbing your distraction problem.
1. Make more by working less.
It sounds crazy, but you make more money by working less. This is the key to building a successful startup.
Earlier this year, I created a blueprint to show how things should go and discussed the plan with my teammates. I told them, “This is the plan we need to follow to achieve our goal.” Then I let them figure out how to make the plan work. When they reported back to me, I objectively analyzed their results and found that those results helped me ask the questions that that would lead to a better product. I wasn’t spending my days working on tasks that prevented me from handling the bigger things on my plate.
2. Focus on the big picture.
As an entrepreneur, you always have a laundry list. You start ticking off tasks, but the list keeps growing, and you can’t stop and take a hard look at the overall plan. You’re constantly in “go mode.”
Now, consider what happens when you have a group of people working for you. You’re able to ask objective questions and make decisions in a calculated fashion. The people working for you follow your lead. They begin to look at problems in a more strategic way, too.
Erik Severinghaus, founder and CEO of SimpleRelevance and a member of the 2015 Dell Founders 50 cohort, has always harped on this reality. “Human beings have a hard constraint of 168 hours per week, and no one can scale beyond that time,” says Severinghaus. “Effective leaders can motivate others to achieve results that will scale the organization beyond their own personal limits.”
Many entrepreneurs think they need to move at lightning speed. Sometimes, though, while speed may be necessary, it’s never worth sacrificing the bigger picture for.
3. Outsource expertise.
So many startup leaders get bogged down with tasks that aren’t suited to their abilities. I once saw a friend’s co-founder obsess over the sound quality of a tutorial. He had headphones in -- the whole 9 yards. I respected his passion, of course, but he had no training in audio editing and would have been better off finding someone who did.
Many entrepreneurs are afraid to outsource work to other professionals. Entrepreneurs know their products better than anyone else. If they allow someone else to accept the responsibility for an important task, they get nervous -- especially when money is involved. After all, every dollar going out the door is a dollar that might not make its way back.
Yet, while outsourcing can be expensive, it's money well spent if you’re showing your product to investors or peers. Focus on the responsibilities that correspond to your strengths. As your company grows, pay other people to perform the jobs beyond your wheelhouse.
According to Deb Noller, another member of the 2015 Dell Founders 50 (and the badass CEO of Switch Automation), a business education prepares you for so many aspects of business. You learn about finance, computer programming, consulting and business planning. But one thing you can’t truly learn without experience is how to manage people. This can only be learned through on-the-job training and trial and error.
To work less -- but better -- delegate. Hire people with the talents to help direct your company where it needs to be. Even if you think you’re the world’s greatest multitasker, trust in your people, give them responsibilities and be willing to let go.