Three years into running my online shop I realized I spent more time operating out of my weaknesses than I did my strengths. As a result, I found myself burned out, disenchanted, and ready to call it quits. What should have been a time to ramp up and push for growth, became a battle against defeat and frustration.
Fortunately, through reading a series books, self-reflection, and personality assessments I was able to clearly identify my strengths and choose to no longer focus my time on fixing my weaknesses. I am now concentrated on the skills I'm excellent in. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. This is important to realize because these things typically take us longer to do and require an increased amount of energy to do them. The reality is while time is money so is energy. If you spend all of your energy on projects that drain you, you won’t have enough for the endeavors that revive you.
Need to know your strengths? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What areas of (my) business come easily to me?
- When was a time over the course of running my business when I’ve felt alive and energetic?
- If I never had to do ________________ again, I’d be extremely happy.
- What are three qualities the people closest to me often compliment me on in reference to my work?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you form a narrative around what you’re actually really good at and determine what areas you need help in. This is the sort of self awareness that creates successful people. So, if the task drains you of your energy then you need to delegate. That may sound unnerving as most small business owners are on a tight budget and can’t envision bringing on staff. Great news, there are tons of apps, systems, and even people in search of extremely part time work/experience to help.
Here’s the system I use to determine what tasks to take on and how to best utilize my strengths on a day to day basis:
Ask yourself what tasks in your business (micro or macro) can be:
AUTOMATED: This means an app or program that automatically handles responsibilities. Think of things like automated payments for invoices or social media apps that allow you to schedule posts ahead of time and then post for you. E-mail systems have automated responses that can be sent through your customer relations account buying you time to personally reply to inquiries.
DELEGATED: This is key - you want to hire someone who would enjoy and gain energy or experience doing this delegated work. I discovered there are people who love the administrative tasks I loathe. It’s possible to hire a virtual assistant for less than $75 per month to manage your calendar. I enjoy graphic design work but realized early on there are graphic designers who look forward to the opportunity to push the envelope creatively and can do it quickly for that matter. Perhaps you have tons of shipments? Paying someone to handle your product fulfillment and shipping instead of doing it yourself frees up loads of time and energy that can be better spent elsewhere.
ELIMINATED: Identify what is superfluous vs. what is imperative. My first year in business I participated in quite a few marketplaces and quickly realized the financial return I was getting for time spent at those markets was not up to par. I spent many hours pre-planning, set up, designing booths, and my own 5-8 hours selling. We no longer do markets and instead put that money/time towards high ROI initiatives.
By implementing the above, I watched our sales triple month over month during a typically slow period of the year. I was able to step back into a visionary position by delegating tasks that ate up chunks of my day (because I wasn’t good at them to begin with) and drained me of my energy. I could operate from a place of empowerment because things I would normally stress about were automated. I began to put time and money into the initiatives that were truly working and continue to see those grow. Experiencing those kinds of wins are what keep business owners engaged and motivated. Find your strengths and you’ll find your opportunities!