There are plenty (and plenty is a vast understatement) of challenges that come with launching your own business, but one I did not anticipate was being the boss—of myself. I’m a creature of habit and routine, and I’ve never been bitten by the procrastination bug, which served me well in my past careers and is likely why I could only envision the advantages of being in charge of myself (finally!).
But when I started my own healthy living venture, Ellevate App, a little over a year ago, I immediately realized that answering to myself and being accountable for every aspect of my business is as trying as it is rewarding. I learned very quickly that I’d have to establish certain protocols and instill (and maintain) the right attitude to help sustain myself in my new role. Now that I’ve worked out many of the kinks, I’m happy to share a few key pointers for managing myself successfully. Find my expert tips for becoming your own best boss below.
You might be able to keep your business afloat, but without any specific direction or KPIs instructed by a board of advisors or investors, you’ll be floating into an abyss. When you’re in charge of your own progress, you’ll need to set clear goals with timeframes, which will help keep you on the straight and narrow. Don’t limit yourself to overarching aspirations, but rather set daily, monthly, and quarterly goals that will propel your company forward when it comes to both short-term and long-term progress. You’ll also save yourself from getting stuck on one specific aspect of your business with a clear reminder of the big picture. By targeting objectives on a timeline, you’ll be motivated to meet your own expectations, which will determine your company’s success.
Not only should you be diligent about setting goals, but the most important piece of the puzzle is actually achieving them. Without the pressure of a higher-up to hold you responsible for accomplishing set tasks, it can be easy to lose sight of how important checking off these boxes can be. Meeting your goals—not viewing them as a mere list of suggestions—is crucial in keeping up momentum and moving toward success, even if it’s little by little.
Running your own company means you’re in charge of every aspect of the business. From less-exciting legal documents to the fun side of exploring creative assets, there’s a lot to stay on top of, and there is no one else to do it but yourself. By keeping organized, you’ll save yourself from many slip-ups and ensure that you've created a proper foundation to build on as your team grows.
Create folders on your desktop, organize your inbox, keep a filing cabinet next to your desk, and use calendars, Google docs and apps to keep yourself as organized as possible. You’ll need to reference almost everything you lay eyes on, so help yourself by storing things in a systematic way. It might not seem like a big deal at first, but when you’re running all areas of the business, the details can pile up. Keeping yourself organized is a task in its own right, but it will save you precious time and energy down the ilne that could better be devoted to the success of your business.
With any other position you’ve held, whether at a corporation or a small business, your boss or CEO has most likely been the face of the company—with plenty of contacts to show for it. When you’re the boss, you have to represent your business both personally and professionally. Companies with charismatic leadership tend to be more successful as potential clients, customers, and influencers in the space trust and believe in the person behind the business—not just the idea itself.
By introducing yourself to as many people as possible, collecting contacts from all corners of the industry, and making yourself a personal point of contact for the company, you’ll gain much more appeal and, in turn, support. People are interested in connecting in a more authentic way, so rather than leaving it all to computer correspondence (which happens too often these days), dedicate a special effort to be present and make yourself known, which will help you connect with and invest in your company in a more personal way.
Even if you’re in charge, you should still consider yourself as an employee of the company. By holding yourself to the same standards and expectations you would for someone in your staff, you’ll be able to keep yourself motivated and balanced. This means working normal business hours, sticking to scheduled days off, answering to all daily to-dos, and meeting your goals and expectations to ensure you and subsequently your business grow.
No one wants to help a slick talker get ahead, but everyone wants to see an honest hard worker succeed. It’s important to stay competitive, but view your competition as motivation to propel you forward and make you better rather than as the enemy. Be kind when dealing with your competitors.
Running a successful and profitable business means you’re never not working. This shouldn’t be interpreted as spending 24 hours a day behind your desk or answering emails, but rather viewing every experience, conversation, and meditative moment as an opportunity for inspiration. You never know who you’ll meet on your morning coffee run or when a new idea or epiphany will hit you (sometimes it’s in bed or in the shower), but be open to allowing these instances to happen organically.
While maintaining a healthy relationship with your work, it’s possible to dedicate yourself to your mission anywhere and everywhere.
Being in charge, you should expect and embrace taking responsibility for everything that involves your business. It's up to you to be concerned about your company's well-being, because no one else needs to be. It's your job to see ideas through until the end and to ensure you're giving your venture every chance at success. Find the methods that work for you through trial and error, but know that you have to be accountable. Be a boss.
Help yourself be a better boss by shopping a few of our favorite office essentials below, and tell us: Do you have any great tips for managing yourself?