The question of working hard vs working smart is one that is often debated among entrepreneurs and hustle culture. I often have to take a sober assessment of my own work and ask myself the question of whether what I am doing is really moving the needle of growing our business or is it serving to fill in the gaps and the hours of the day.
Understanding where to get the best return on investment in the early stages of business building can be tough. Striking a balance between working and hard and working smart would seem to be a worthwhile strategy. However, getting to the point where you have this set up and running can take some time.
Optimizing for efficiency is working smart to achieve the best return on investment for your time when you work hard.
Let's look at how we might do this.
Create Systems that allow you to scale
As we have spoken about before, creating systems that allow your business to scale is about optimizing your businesses workflow. Endless work without systems and structure will inevitably lead to burn out and suboptimal results for your business and your team.
Workflow optimization for internal processes should focus on setting up you and your team with the best practises and processes for conducting daily and weekly tasks.
Set up process models as instructions to coordinate the activities within your business. These processes might include tasks and procedural steps for individuals and teams with descriptions of necessary inputs and outputs that align with your overall goals.
Examples for systems and processes around content that we utilize at Startup Sanctuary include our Content Carousel and our Content Distribution model.
Leverage technology where possible to aid your team with optimizing these processes and make your workflow management easier for everyone. Some of the benefits you are likely to see are as follows:
Setting up systems and automations can take some time in the beginning, but it helps to give you more structure in the long run. Having more structure for your repetitive tasks also frees up more time for unstructured creative work. Freeing up this creative bandwidth should be a net result of optimizing your internal processes, so it is best to get this right first.
Sow the Seeds of Compound Growth
Compounding growth is all about expanding your capacity as a business.
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”
That being said, one should not underestimate the work and compounded effort over time that it takes to actually establish momentum in your business. It has to be built up over time before you can achieve a critical mass.
Applying compound growth to your outputs as a business allows you to grow exponentially once you reach a critical mass.
“It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary, argues Darren Hardy,” author of The Compound Effect.
You may have heard stories about how one deal, one relationship or one opportunity changed the entire trajectory of a business. While this is often very true, it is likely that a deal, relationship or opportunity like that only came about because of the effort that went into showing up day after day and compounding business outputs for months and possibly even years before that.
“The harder I work, the luckier I get” - Samuel Goldwyn
You increase the chances of serendipity by documenting your business journey and showing up on a consistent basis. Discipline and concentrated compounded effort over time will get almost anyone results, regardless of your natural ability or skill in a particular area.
Compounding effects apply to creative output, business decisions, relationships built, products sold and customers satisfied. If you are in the game of creating content as a core pillar of your business (which you should be), all of this content built up and compounded over time will act as a creative portfolio of past experience and a ‘proof of work’ for future customers.
Structure The Hustle
The idea of ‘Hustle’ gets a bad wrap sometimes. It is certainly true that anyone who has built a thriving business or achieved a significant degree of success has worked extremely hard for it. Having that Hustle mindset and being deliberate about setting up systems that allow you to get the best return on investment for your time should go hand in hand.
Creating systems that allow you to capture your compounded growth over time is the most effective way to record your ‘proof of work’. Consistently scale this over a long enough time horizon and you will see the results reflected. Creating for yourself the environment and structure within which you can hustle and work hard will yield optimal results.
Catherine is the head of Operations at Soar.sh, a marketing services agency for growing startups. Soar helps digital companies grow faster with...