In early May, I will be speaking at the SIIA Ed Tech Industry Summit about the opportunities and challenges that innovators and entrepreneurs face. And, one of my topics will be that time flies!! Bringing innovation into educational markets is hard work, and there is way more to do than there are hours in the day.
This past month, I have created pieces of my business plan, financial projections, a website, overviews of the company, and a concept video. I have traveled nearly half the time meeting customers, partners, advisors, investors, developers and my team. I have worn more hats than I can imagine. I haven’t managed to cross everything off my list in months. And, Carrieonfire.com has suffered from this flight of time!
Here is what I do when time is flying (and spinning out of control!):
- Focus on the 2-3 critical success factors for your company today, and give yourself milestones with due dates for these priorities. For me, it’s setting up pilots and seed funding. I know what I need to accomplish and when.
- Take things off your list. You can’t do everything, but it is better to delegate or postpone than to regret that you failed to complete something critical. Jim Collins, one of my favorite leadership gurus, argues that we all need a “stop-doing” list, because we have too many projects and initiatives. Isn’t that the truth!
- Build a team that is GREAT and brings the expertise, skills and passion for things that aren’t your forte. If you don’t have a lot of money to hire people (most of us don’t), your team can include partners, advisors, potential and current vendors, and friends and family.
- Take a day off every week. Starting a company is grueling work, and you need to get away from it or you will burn out. About 10 years ago, I learned this the hard way when I landed in the hospital and spent 3 months recovering my health. Even when I am swamped, I try to take off one day a week. And, I find time every day to clear my head. I exercise or practice yoga nearly every day, and I take walks with my dog, Luna.
- Give yourself a break when you fail or fall behind. You are only human. And, you know that every successful entrepreneur encounters many pitfalls along the way. You will be a lot less stressed and more effective if you acknowledge your failure to get something done or that big SNAFU and let it go so that you can move on.