How Founders Can Run Their Business to Thrive (Not Just Survive)Featured

Being a founder is undeniably challenging. While technology and AI have simplified many aspects of our lives, they’ve also made things more complicated as we feel pressure to do more 24/7. Launching a brand, filled with initial optimism and excitement, quickly confronts this reality. The thrill of birthing your brand baby can be overshadowed by the daily grind, especially with the increasing demands for efficiency driven by AI and automation tools.

However, there’s no need to feel daunted by this. Effective life management is the key to ensuring that you are not completely consumed by day-to-day tasks in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Here are five ways startup founders can run their businesses to not just survive, but to truly thrive.

1) Have a healthy dose of self-awareness

Some people are naturally more self-aware than others – this is a very healthy and vital skill to have as a founder. You need to be able to assess what you are good at, what you aren’t, and where you are wasting your time.

It’s not always easy for people to admit that they are doing things that aren’t productive. Or that they are not great at things they want to do. But having a strong sense of where to put your attention is the start to getting your life and business organized. And BTW – you can have an “unhealthy dose” of self-awareness, meaning that you overanalyze and critique yourself. That’s not helpful either.

Try to focus on where you see “wins” and build on them. For example, if you put together a killer pitch deck and get some positive feedback, that’s amazing. Take a minute to congratulate yourself on a job well done. But then also find those places where there might be opportunities for improvement (like for me, managing my sales tax reporting). Start with the small stuff (delegating your bookkeeping for example) and then you can start building up to really dividing and conquering your business with the right team around you.

If you feel you’re not very self-aware and want to increase your self-awareness but don’t know how, you can keep a journal, ask friends/peers/employees for feedback, or you can also try some tools like Myers-Brigg to get a better understanding of what drives you.

2) Outsource the “grind”

Things that require constant work – like bookkeeping, invoicing, sales tax, social media management, content creation and more are where you should start to outsource. You still need to make sure the work is done well, but your time should be spent on oversight, not on the actual work.

Take time to prioritize your big goals and then also look at your weekly goals. Track where you’re spending your time each week and you’ll start to see where you can shift your priorities for your own time and where you can bring in help.

After I did this, I realized I was spending WAY too much time on social media. And while that’s important (especially for a small, scrappy business), it’s not necessarily going to transform my business overnight. So I cut myself some slack and outsourced some of it (TikTok for example) to a Gen Zer who might be more connected to what people respond to and want to see.

You can always take back control, but the key is figuring out where to start delegating and then using your “new time” wisely to do things that contribute to the bigger picture. I now take the 2 hours I was spending on social media and use them to work on getting MASAMI in additional retail partners and salons – much better for the business long term.

3) Know just enough to be dangerous (meaning you can talk the talk but if you had to take an SAT about the subject, you’d likely fail)

You don’t need to be an “expert” (as many people say, it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill), but you need to be able to hire the right people to do it well. You need to delegate and to do that, you need to have enough high-level working knowledge of a topic to be able to assess if the person you’re hiring can actually do the job.

I can’t tell you how many people BS their way into roles they know virtually nothing about, thinking they can “fake it til they make it”. You don’t need to waste your time and money hiring them. If you are really feeling lost (like hiring someone for a technical role that can feel like a foreign language to you), ask a reliable source in your network for tips on how to vet candidates. Chances are, someone else has already learned what to look for (and what doesn’t matter) so you can benefit from their mistakes and learning.

4) Experiment a lot

Nowadays, technology moves so fast that a better solution is always around the corner. But rather than wait until you see which tech platforms and partners bubble up to become the leaders, experiment with many of them. You’ll get a better feel for what works and what doesn’t for your business.

For example, over the past three years, we’ve been live-streaming regularly on different platforms, some of which are no longer in business. But the experience we have from using them makes it a lot easier to onboard to emerging platforms and helps us get a jump start to determine if they can help us gain momentum.

5) Test and learn

There is an overwhelming amount of data available to us these days – just trying to understand the data can be a job in and of itself.

Focus on a few key metrics that matter most, test and learn to find the results that work for you and spend time tracking these so you’re not just using intuition to determine the course of your business. For example, we test and learn with digital advertising and email marketing by creating different versions of ads and messaging to see what resonates with our audience.

Mastering balance in entrepreneurship

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not the only one. But taking a few steps to get yourself organized around the right priorities and the right places to spend your time will really help you get a handle on what works, what doesn’t and where you need to double down for momentum.

Don’t forget to factor in time for yourself to “reset” as well. As founders, we work around the clock so burnout is real. A bit of self-care can sometimes be what you need to gain perspective.

Not sure where to start? Start with an assessment of where you spend your time. Track every half hour for 1 or 2 weeks and then figure out where you can shift your priorities, delegate, experiment and learn.

Ask for help from a trusted friend and before you know it, you’ll find yourself living a more balanced entrepreneurial life.