Street smart entrepreneurs play CARDDS

Street smart entrepreneurs don’t believe the saying, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself”. If you need to do everything yourself, you’re not an entrepreneur. You have a job. I previously wrote an article to explain the difference between a business owner and someone who is self employed.

Business Owner vs Self Employed

Sometimes if you want anything done at all, as a business owner, you need to show leadership and get things done through others. Perhaps that’s teamwork, partnerships or engaging technology to get the job done.

Perfectionism, on the other hand, is not just having high standards. Often it means setting impossible standards because of your fear of what it will mean to release something to the world that’s not perfect. Perfectionism, and the badge of honour you wear on your chest like a bravery medal, does not equal superiority.

Street smart entrepreneurs know that sometimes you need to get out of your own way and you can’t do that if you’re a control freak. Aka the perfect entrepreneur. Let’s face it… if you’re a perfectionist, you like to be in control. Consider successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington. All extremely intelligent and capable people, who at some point had to get out of their own way and let someone else take the wheel.

“It’s all about finding and hiring people smarter than you. Getting them to join your business. And giving them good work. Then getting out of their way” -Richard Brason.

Busy Bees, These Entrepreneurs

Every week, I meet business owners who tell me they’re super busy. They know what they need to do for their business but they’re too busy working on unimportant tasks to step back and see the big picture. Often the more staff they hire, the busier they get. They may even be high achievers on certain tasks and excellent at what they do. Clap, clap, clap. Here’s another medal for the folks who look busy.

Sadly, I’ve seen so many businesses die, even though the owner is great at what they do. You can’t build a great business if you keep ignoring the big picture. As Tony Robbins says, “Most people major in minor things”. Many of these clever, talented, high achieving people kill their businesses or even more tragically burn themselves out. Make no mistake, as the Founder and later as a Leader, you are the essential asset for your business’s survival.

Anything But Not Everything

You might believe to your core that if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself. Here’s something else for your to ponder. You might be capable of doing anything but you can’t do everything. Time will not allow, no matter how competent you are. You need to decide what’s crucial for your success and learn to let go of the rest. That’s the difference between a perfectionist and a street smart entrepreneur.

I don’t care how capable you are, how sophisticated, how organised, how anal -you will need to decide where to focus your time and energy. If you want your organisation to grow beyond you or if you want to build something that’s valuable long after you die, you will need to stop doing everything yourself and concentrate on the essentials.

You’re not Superman. You’re not Wonder Woman. Even wearing your undies on the outside of your pants won’t make it so. Sooner of later, you’re going to feel overwhelmed and be reminded you are human. In most cases, it’s physically impossible for you to do everything. In an extreme case, you might even burn out (most likely for high achievers).

So, you probably get the point I am trying to make by now. You can’t do everything yourself nor do you need to. Work out what’s essential for you to do and those other things you need to get off your plate. Once you clear your plate (metaphorical) of the non-essentials, you make room for what matters.

Stop. Before you start working on anything that lands in your desk, remember, smart entrepreneurs play CARDDS. CARDDS is an acronym that stands for Complete, Automate, Redirect, Delegate, Dismiss and Schedule. These are the CARDDS smart entrepreneurs play to help them win the day.

Street Smart Entrepreneurs Play CARDDS

CARDDS is an acronym to help you remember your options when dealing with anything incoming that lands on your desk, in your tray, in your email inbox or otherwise gets your attention as something that should be done.

Notice I used the phrase should be done, instead of needs to be done. Other people’s expectations can often be a trap when we’re deciding how to best prioritise our time. When you use the CARDDS acronym, remember to make these decisions based on your own priorities and needs, rather than someone else’s “shoulds” and expectations!

Complete

How long will it take you to complete this task?

If it’s important and can be completed in under 2 minutes, go ahead and do it. Make sure it’s not interrupting your most important work when you do it though. Don’t even give these things your attention until you have enough time to complete these small tasks and organise the bigger ones.

Automate

How often will you need to complete this same task?

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Automate any action you will need to repeat frequently. Consider how long it will take each time you stop to repeat this task compared to automating it once. Unless you’re a robot, doing mindless repetitive tasks is not the best use of your time.

Artificial intelligence, despite its current limitations, is being used more often by Startup Founders than ever before. According to McKinsey’s Global Survey, one third of the businesses surveyed have experimented with AI. Marketing was the most common function, which AI was employed for.

Redirect

Does fulfilling this request contribute to your core business?

Redirect anything that distracts you and your colleagues from fulfilling your core business. A simple and polite redirect is just a matter of pointing someone to a helpful source or someone who is better suited to help them, than you. You’re trying to be helpful but make it clear this is not your responsibility.

Important: Do not treat this as a recommendation or endorsement. If you recommend someone, you may end up being held partially responsible for your endorsement -even though you have no control over the outcome. So you might just subtly suggest by saying, “Have you tried…” and leave it at that.

Dismiss

What if no one else can help but this is still not your core business?

Nothing becomes your responsibility by default. It is not your fault or your problem if no one else can help, unless this request directly contributes to your core business. Sometimes you will need to say a polite but firm. “No”. Say no to anything that is unimportant. Remember your core business, your most important work and who you work for are paramount. Everything else detracts from this focus and should be dismissed.

Delegate

Is this your core business but not your own responsibility (or strength)?

Delegate anything that contributes to your core business but is not your personal responsibility (or strength). Ensure whoever you’re delegating to has the appropriate skills, confidence and authority to take care of the assigned task or project. Before you delegate, make sure you consider if this assignment will be the best use of this person’s time. Do not delegate anything if it will detract from this person’s contribution to your core business.

Schedule

Do you need to bite the bullet and do something yourself? If it is going to take longer than 2 minutes, remember, you may not need to do it right now. Schedule an appropriate time in your calendar and treat it as though you would any other commitment. Make sure you stick to it.

What’s The Best Use of Your Time?

Stop trying to be the perfect entrepreneur. Think of yourself as a conductor, curator or someone else who concerns themselves with the big picture. Your most important role as an entrepreneur is to make sure all of the parts of your business work well together. That’s essential if you want to make something great.

Next time an email hits your inbox, a piece of paper lands on your desk or a client makes a request, pause. You need to decide which of these incoming requests is the highest and most valuable use of your time.

Play your CARDDS to make sure you clear your plate of anything that distracts you. Remember there are many options to get back in control of your time and work on what’s most important.

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