It’s 3:30 pm.
Your desk is piled with random papers. And your to-do list looks a mess.
You’ve managed to extinguish two critical fires. Just one more to go.
But you haven’t even touched any of your most important tasks. Like plotting next year’s expansion plan or how to allocate resources for new hires.
Honestly, where has your day gone?
Your greatest frustration is not being able to remove yourself from the day-to-day activities. For the business to move forward, you need time to focus on future growth opportunities.Let’s explore how you can remove the stress, prioritize major tasks, and focus on the growth of your ecommerce business.
Dealing with Stress
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “40 percent [of people] experience persistent stress or excessive anxiety in their daily lives.”
Stress is all around us. We get anxious about everything from that big marketing campaign launch to issues with our spouse.
Most work-related stress is caused by deadlines, interpersonal relationships, staff management, and impromptu problems.
Like most people, you wear multiple hats at work. Yes, your main job is managing the company’s sales. But you also get bogged down with departmental meetings, lunches with your co-workers, and customer phone calls.
Before you know it, you’re stressed and thinking about the 12 new projects you have to oversee.
Your negative thoughts begin to repeat. Over and over again. This vicious cycle only makes the stress worse.
“Our brains are hardwired to notice, seek out, and remember negative events and information. It’s called the negativity bias. If you’re having a stressful day, odds are that your brain will be re-playing those stressful events long after the stress has passed,” writes Paula Davis-Laack, a stress management and work/life performance expert.
Stress isn’t just a mental issue. It affects us physically, too.
Research uncovers that anxiety leads to eating disorders, sporadic mood swings, and insomnia. You may even find yourself lying awake at night.
The American Heart Association recommends daily relaxation. And that doesn’t mean sitting at home watching the latest season of House of Cards on Netflix.
Experiment with new ways to calm your mind and body. Try yoga, meditation, or a walk at your nearest park. Michelle Nickolaisen’s story about “The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship” is a great resource on stress prevention and coping mechanisms.Before you focus on business growth, you need to be in a positive mental state. So, take care of yourself first.
You juggle many tasks on your job. And figuring out what’s really important can be cumbersome.
On top of that, it’s not easy deciding what to do first. You’re stuck in a conundrum asking yourself: Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?
Experts suggest focusing on a single task. That activity can be something that deserves your attention or an assignment around an overall goal, like increasing sales.
The key is to find a genuine purpose and move toward completing the task.
And don’t feel the need to do a bunch of tasks at once. It’s actually counterproductive.
Studies show that multitasking reduces your productivity by 40%. So, you end up doing a poor job on everything.
Kristie Holden, marketing coordinator at MarketCircle, states, “It’s better to get one job done right than to half-ass multiple jobs. By prioritizing what is most important to achieve your goals you will avoid wasting time on irrelevant tasks and your team will feel more unified.”
Consider assessing the value of your tasks. How many people are involved? How many people will be impacted? Normally, the stakes rise when the impact is greater.
“There is a constant tension between the urgent and the important. And because the important things seldom need to be done today—and the urgent almost always do—there is a critical need to learn how to set proper priorities so that our visions, goals and desires can be met more effectively,” states Tony Jeary, author and executive coach.
In the image below, you’ll notice that the most urgent and important tasks should be completed now.
IMAGE VIA JULIENRIO.COM
Remove your daily frustrations. Start doing the operational tasks that matter the most.
Feeling Comfortable with Delegation
You’re a leader. And you feel obligated to get everything done yourself.
But honestly, that’s impossible. Trust your team to help you accomplish the company’s goals.
If you want time to focus on growth, you must start delegating assignments. That may involve internal staff or external partners.
For example, technology may not be your business’s core strength. But you still need an ecommerce platform to maintain customers.
Rather than starting from scratch, enlist the help of outside vendors. That’s exactly what Hawkers did.
“We were never really a sunglasses company,” says Andreas Klein, sales at Hawkers. “We’re more of a marketing agency with a great product that we know how to brand and sell. Shopify Plus helped us to focus on that rather than the technology."
When it comes to delegating tasks internally, match the task with the individual possessing the required skill set. The right pairing ensures less confusion during the process.
“Task failures occur when an individual either isn’t ready to take on the job, or when the task is greater than what the employee or contractor can handle. When matching individuals or teams to projects, take into consideration their ability, skills, experience and goals,” writes Entrepreneur Contributor Jacqueline Whitmore.
Most anxiety around delegation is pinpointed to poor work product. We are scared that the person won’t perform the task to our standards.
And if it’s done incorrectly, you spend more time doing the work. It’s exhausting.
IMAGE VIA ENGINEERING.COM
To avoid that anxiety, give your co-worker detailed notes on how you want the assignment completed. Explain everything from the deadline to the format.
“Give clear assignments and instructions. The key is striking the right balance between explaining so much detail that the listener is insulted, and not explaining enough for someone to grasp what is expected. Think back to when you were learning, when you were a neophyte,” states, Martin Zwilling, founder and CEO of Startup Professionals.
Also, know the difference between micromanaging and simply following up. You don’t want to undermine your co-workers.
Therefore, if you’re working on a long-term project, setup progress milestones to check-in with the person. That’s your opportunity to ask questions and solve any minor challenges.
When done right, delegation will look like this:
Making Decisions, Not Plans
A study found that 66% of companies view planning as a periodic event, “often conducted as a precursor to the yearly budgeting and capital-approval processes.”
This method forces strategic planning into an annual cycle, making it irrelevant to executives who make important decisions everyday.
Instead of planning to focus on growth, it may be helpful to link decision-making with your traditional planning process for optimal results.
For instance, Boeing Commercial Airplanes executives met regularly to discuss the company’s long-term challenges. In those meetings, they would select a course of action to resolve the issue. Then, the plans would be updated to include an implementation strategy for the decision.
But decision-making isn’t easy either. It takes time and effort to select the right path for your business.
“Sometimes it is very easy to recognize a good decision, such as when sales numbers increase or a new employee rises to the top. Other decisions may require more reflection to determine if it was the right decision or if another option was better,” says Business News Daily Contributor Marci Martin.
Create your own process for making decisions. Keep it simple.
How will you identify the problem? What are your alternative choices? How will you evaluate your final decision?
IMAGE VIA DESIGNORATE
Mental barriers block us from making decisions. Like we discussed earlier, stress inhibits us from thinking clearly.
So, when you’re faced with a difficult issue, clear your mind first. Author Catherine Price writes:
“People tend to make poorer choices when they're in a bad mood or under a lot of stress. When facing a complex decision, use your conscious brain to gather the information you need, and then take a break. Go for a walk. Spend a half hour meditating. Take a nap. Have a beer. The idea is to give your unconscious mind some time to do its work.”
Don’t plan your next move. Make a decision and take action.
Focusing on Growth
When teams focus on growth, it can mean several different things. Maybe they want more revenue this month. Or they need to increase website traffic.
If your desire is growth, start defining what that means for your company. Work with your team to set benchmarks before performing unnecessary work.
Then, figure out how you can add value to your customers. That’s because growth won’t happen if your target audience isn’t satisfied.
Serial entrepreneur Neil Patel agrees:
“A product or service that resolves a real problem is more likely to attract customers. Services like Uber and AirBnB succeeded because they relieved consumer pain points. Do your research and make market testing a priority before pouring money into development.”
With advancements in technology and the rise of multiple competitors, creating value for customers is an ongoing pursuit. Right now, there’s a “shift from products and services to business models built around integrated solutions.”
Concentrate on developing growth strategies that identify new value creations.
IMAGE VIA THE VALUE IMPERATIVE
Moreover, business processes are often overlooked in the growth stage. It’s vital to determine which processes will need additional support during expansion.
For instance, use your resources to do what you do best. And find the right tools to the do the rest.
“Your main source of revenue is safe with Shopify,” boasts Farah Barghi, brand manager at All Pro Science. “We can focus on being awesome now instead of spending 15-hours a day fixing a site.”
Growth is a matter of perception. Decide your strategic approach, and give value to your consumers.
Growth, Not Frustration
The daily operations of your ecommerce store are time-consuming and frustrating. But you must make the time to focus on future business growth.
Learn to cope with the stress. Prioritize tasks based on your long-term strategy. And make small steps to delegate with ease.
Invest your time upfront. Remove the stress. Grow your business.