By Julie Clow, author of The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All
Create Your Own Work Revolution
When I wrote the book, The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All, I focused primarily on the plight of leaders and individuals in traditional organizations. My goal was to lift the blinders to reveal how outdated management practices, such as work schedules and dress codes, make no sense anymore in our age of knowledge work.
However, the principles that can free us from the tyranny of bad companies also apply to self-employed individuals. As you think about building your business, launching new ventures, and even building your own company, here are five surprising tips from The Work Revolution that can help you develop your own sustainable and successful work practices.
1. Say no to work. As a solopreneur or entrepreneur, it is tempting to take whatever work you might be offered, regardless of whether it's what you want to be doing. And most people in your life, particularly the ones who care most about you, will think you are crazy not to take all forms of work. However, when you launch your own business, it is critical to define your own mission statement, and reject any work that falls outside of that. It's up to you to maintain your focus on the work best aligned with your passions, strengths, and potential value.
2. Ignore best practices. “Best practices” is the annoying term defining the activities that historically correlate with success. Best Practices might tell you to market in this way, sell in that way, build your audience with this method, and to reject the other method. But what might have worked (or didn't work) for others might be the complete opposite for you! Resist the temptation to blindly follow the practices that everyone tells you you should be doing. It is up to you to try things for yourself to see what works. Which leads to the next idea…
3. Think really really small. Yes, of course you should think big and set audacious goals. But the first step in your journey is to do the exact opposite…to think small. When you have an idea for a new product or service or business, rather than taking a huge risk and investing everything you've got, take a step back and think about how you can test the idea in a really small way (I recommend reading The Pretotyping Manifesto at pretotyping.org for great ideas about testing small). If you’re really really small test works, then test it slightly bigger and bigger until you know for sure that it will work. Then, you can invest more heavily into your own proven success.
4. Learn to be a quitter. We are all conditioned to believe that quitters are synonymous with losers. But you have limited time and resources, and you will never be able to do everything. Take stock of everything you are doing periodically – monthly or even weekly. Identify the efforts that are least successful, and stop doing them. Free yourself up to focus on the things that are creating the greatest impact.
5. Sleep in. The early bird gets the worm, right? This might be true for the morning people of the world, but for many of us, we do our best work in the evenings or even late at night. Pay attention to your own energy cycles – when you feel strong and the dips that suggest you might need to take a break. Position your work efforts to align with this, and you'll get more out less time invested.
Put simply, focus on the value, and eliminate everything else. If you stick to this over the long-term, you'll carve out a satisfying life of sustainable work with plenty of time left to play.