It takes time to identify what is required for startup success and then extract trends. While much has been said and written about paying attention to your customers/users, the application of lean startup success methodology and other subjects, one aspect is largely under-estimated, namely, the way in which entrepreneurs organize themselves and live their projects. In practice, time management is of fundamental importance. In most cases, entrepreneurs have a limited time to succeed, whether it is the time needed to generate a first salary and the time to market. Everything must be done to succeed during this window of opportunity, failing which entrepreneurs risk seeing the train pass them by.
Akka’s startup of Flying Trains: read here
So the ability of entrepreneurs to manage both times and themselves are fundamental factors that determine their chances of startup success. They often view as being like sand trickling through an hourglass in a way over which they have no control. This vision applies to their days, weeks, etc. A good method for entrepreneurs to re-appropriate time involves the hourglass from the bottom with blocks of work that provide a structure. Their days are then no longer imposed on them, but lived in a way they want. Once entrepreneurs regain mastery over their time, they can optimize it in the interests of performance and achieve their desired objectives. For high-level athletes, planning rest periods provide a means of over-compensation, while for entrepreneurs, planning time for research, leisure and/or self-development enables them to continue living their project in a state of permanent enthusiasm.
So once objectives are clearly expressed and actions are planned, is it just a question of following the plan? Practice suggests it is not that simple. In reality, entrepreneurs are liable to be solicited from all angles, with demands on their disrupting or even wiping out their good intentions. In order to optimize their time, entrepreneurs need to consistently ask themselves the following questions:
What would happen if I stopped doing what I’m doing now?
If the answer is “nothing”, then there is no longer any reason for doing it.
What am I going to do today?
Is it going to help achieve my established objectives?
If the answer is “no”, then the entrepreneur needs to refocus on actions that do help to achieve them. This question needs to be asked every morning, but also every week and every month. More than applying a rule, it is a question of developing a mindset where every day needs to be their preferred day, even if they are on a holiday. This approach is essential for learning how to look at obstacles, to face them more calmly and thereby to see them as natural features of the road. Once this approach has been imbibed, entrepreneurs must also set aside time for themselves to optimize their performance.
(The author is co-director of the MSc in Entrepreneurship and director of the EDHEC Young Entrepreneur [EYE] incubator)