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Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘work smart, not hard’?
Wonder what genius came up with that one?
The idea that there is some ‘secret strategy’ guaranteed to make you riches without any real effort is ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as the idea that if you just work hard enough (even if you’re doing the wrong thing) you’ll inevitably find success as well.
Therefore, ask yourself – should you work smart or hard?
The answer, put simply, is both. Not only do you need to have the right strategy in place, but you have to back it up with enough effort and hours to execute that strategy to its full potential.
However, there’s different times to focus on working smart vs. working hard. In this article, I intend to highlight some of these examples. This way, you can structure your work days in a way that truly maximizes your results.
Tune In Your Strategy First, But Be Prepared To Make Adjustments
Working without a clear objective in mind is absolutely pointless.
After all, how do you know if you’re making progress? How do you know if what you’re doing is ultimately leading you to your goals?
We’re often told about how hard entrepreneurs have to work in order to build their companies, but these entrepreneurs are not famous for their efforts. They are famous for their results.
Let’s be honest – you probably know somebody who works harder than most – perhaps they’re a single parent who also works full-time, or somebody that works 3 part-time jobs a day. They may put in a very respectable amount of effort into their work each day, but still struggle to make ends-meet.
In many instances, we commend ourselves too much for the effort we put forth, but not enough for the results that we deliver (or fail to deliver.)
Therefore, before you even begin your next task, you need to make sure you have a strategy in place to turn your effort into results.
This strategy may or may not work as you intend it to, but your goal is straightforward – maximize the return on your effort.
Next, Put The Work In, And REALLY Figure Things Out
Once you’ve got an idea on how to take on a challenge in an effective manner, get to work on it straight away.
You do not have to wait for perfection in your strategy to begin. There will simply be things you cannot predict or understand when you’re just starting out.
For example, I recently purchased a vlogging setup, which my partner and I have been carrying around at all times. The intention is to document our experiences and lessons as my companies have grown, and show what entrepreneurship really looks like inside of a growing company that processes thousands of orders each week.
We’ve tried it out for about two weeks now, only to realize that we’re terrible at it.
Dreadful, really. So awkward in fact, that we haven’t published the first two weekly episodes yet, despite having lots of footage that I was really excited about.
Here’s the lesson, however. We actually listened to a book on vlogging before we actually began. We learned a lot from it, and it benefited us immensely.
What we didn’t realize was where our own personal strengths and weaknesses were, and how the strategy that we had in our minds would actually play out and integrate with our real lives.
Once you’ve started the actual work, you know where you have to make adjustments. Issues will pop up that you couldn’t have predicted, and hands-on experience is vital to actually improving.
It’s only by actually executing the strategy that you discover its faults. From there, you have to be willing to pivot, make adjustments, and keep pushing forward until things work out as planned.
Strategizing and executing are both important, but you need a balance.
Analyze Your Strengths And Weaknesses
As an entrepreneur, it’s very important that you are honest with yourself.
Again, results are what matters. You may love a particular task or role within your company, but if you suck at it you’re destined for entrepreneurial failure.
At the same time, you have strengths that other people don’t have, or would be expensive to hire for.
Part of being a great entrepreneur is making the most out of all of your company’s resources. This does not just include money, it also includes your own skills, and the skills of your employees.
In most cases, it doesn’t make sense to spend 4 hours doing a task that you can have another person at your company do in 20 minutes. This is true even if you work really hard at it, and put in the most amount of effort that you possibly can.
In the same way that it’s important to work smart and build an effective strategy, it’s also important to focus more on the things you’re good at, and let other people handle the things that they’re good at.
Determine Your Value – Then Delegate
Regardless of how talented you are, and how many hours you have to put into your business, it rarely makes sense to do all of the work yourself.
While solopreneurship has been on the rise in recent years, this is no way to build a massive company – even if you can pull in large amounts of revenue on your own.
After all, picture it this way – if you were able to earn $30 an hour doing any other work (freelancing, working a traditional job, etc.) – why would you do jobs in your business that you could outsource for only a few dollars an hour?
That just doesn’t make mathematical sense. Yet this is the way many people run their businesses.
It’s very important that you determine two things:
- The most amount of money you could make per hour, doing any task – even if it doesn’t relate to your business.
- What tasks in your company can only be done by you.
Everything that can be done by somebody else, for a cheaper price than what you could earn elsewhere, delegate.
Your goal is to narrow down your time to focusing on high-value tasks, that can not be replaced by another person, either because you have a unique skill set or it would be too expensive to delegate.
You’ve now got a clear idea on what you need to be doing. It’s time to execute.
Cranking up the hours is a good thing. Working hard is respectable, and is actually vital to achieving results, despite what gurus may tell you.
However, this is only true when you’re working on tasks that matter, and you’re delegating lower-value tasks to employees who are cheaper than you are.
Your time is valuable, and you need to make the most of it. By following the strategy laid out in this article, you ensure that you’re actually getting the highest return on your time possible, working the smartest you possibly can.
From there, it is just a matter of working hard.
To your success,
– James McAllister
Review the main points of this article in the SlideShare below. Feel free to embed this on your site, use it in your organization, and share it with others! All I ask is that you give credit! (Download links are available from SlideShare’s website, which you can access by clicking the LinkedIn icon)