As an entrepreneur it's easy to get caught up in day-to-day details and lose track of the bigger picture, but it's essential to keep your focus on your overall goals and values, cautions one founder. By Katie Lance (CEO & Owner, Katie Lance Consulting)
Seven months ago I left the security of a steady paycheck, vacation pay and benefits to become an entrepreneur. Anyone who has ever taken this leap will tell you it’s exhilarating and terrifying all in one fell swoop.
One of the biggest things I focused on right off the bat was being intentional in what I do and whom I wanted to work with. I see a lot of people who are super passionate and talented start a business and then flounder because they try to be all things to all people.
So from the get-go, and from observing many other successful entrepreneurs, I’ve learned the value of being intentional in five key areas.
Be Intentional With Your Time
It’s so easy to let your inbox dictate your to-do list, or to be distracted by the latest craze on social media, but it’s critically important to guard your time like you would your bank account. Time is our most precious commodity, and so I’ve learned to charge for my time accordingly, but also to be flexible enough to be giving of my time and to lend a hand (as others have done for me) when possible.
I make it part of my schedule to intentionally help others – answer their questions, elevate their cause or business, or connect them with the right person-- at least once a week. It’s amazing what happens when you can balance being mindful of your time with being selfless and giving because that can come back to you ten-fold.
Be Intentional With Who You Work With
I made a decision early on to focus on what I loved to do and who I loved to work with and I never looked back. I refuse to work with a client or company that I don’t believe in, or don’t get along with. It’s not worth it to me and, in the long run, it doesn’t benefit anyone. Some people like my style and others may not, and that’s ok. Life is too short to always be fighting an upstream battle with people who question your motives or every decision that you make.
It’s also critical to get very clear on who you want to work with and make intentional efforts to work with those people. Whether it’s connecting in person or via social media you have to make the effort to make it happen. Find them on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn. Don’t become a stalker but connect. Put them in a list of people you want to connect with and put in the sweat equity to build that relationship authentically.
Be Intentional With Who You Connect With
We have an incredible opportunity with social media to connect in new ways. When you go to an event or a conference, bring your "A" game and get intentional about exactly who you want to connect with and how you want to do that.
It’s not enough to just send a tweet. Stand out by going above and beyond – a handwritten note, following up when you say you are going to, or sending a thoughtful gift – all of these little things add up to big things. My latest favorite app is the iOS app Cards, which allows you to personalize a card and then mail it to the recipient. What I love is the presentation of the card once it arrives – beautiful card stock, vellum insert, handwritten font – all the subtle details that Apple nails helps to create an amazing impression on the person you send the card to.
Be Intentional About Your Brand
Your brand is so much more than your logo – it’s who you are, how you say things, the people you attract, and the context in which you communicate online and offline. The devil is in the details. When you are true to yourself and your brand and stop worrying about what you are NOT versus what you ARE, that is the key!
Be Intentional With Your Local-Term Goals
Know where you want to go in the next few months but also in the next few years. What will it take for you to get there? Do you know how much revenue you are brining in on a monthly basis? What do you need to do to get to where you want to go? And is what you are doing the best investment for your time? Be your own best promoter. Listen. Ask. Do more than you think you can do. Now is the time to stretch yourself.
I’d love to hear from other entrepreneurs about your successes and your struggles when it comes to staying focused and being intentional with your business. Please leave me a comment below or find me on Facebook or Twitter!
Women 2.0 readers: Do you struggle to stay intentional and avoid getting caught up in day-to-day distractions?
About the guest blogger: Katie is the CEO and Owner of Katie Lance Consulting. Katie specializes in social media strategy and content development, and works with mid to large-sized brands in the technology and real estate industries. Katie is a nationally known keynote speaker at conferences and events. She is a frequent blogger and contributor to Inman News and The Huffington Post. Follow her on Twitter @katielance. Photo credit: marfis75 via Flickr.