3 Tips On How To Be Productive As A Small Business Owner: Expectations vs. Reality

There are so many rewarding aspects to taking that leap of faith to become a small business owner. However, there are often many idealistic expectations of what the process will be like. At Dash Activate Online, we want to dispel some of these misconceptions of entrepreneurship and help by offering 3 tips on how to be productive as a small business owner along with a few extra goodies to help you stay successful and organized.

 So, you’ve finally started your business and left your regular 9-5 office job. You’re excited and expecting this to be an all fun, no stress, and completely freedom-fueled experience. Sound about, right? If this is you or has been you, surely you are not alone in this mindset.

These perfectionistic expectations of entrepreneur life being all flowers and rainbows can often lead to quick burn-out and other pitfalls for new entrepreneurs. However, when diving deeper into what it takes to run a thriving small business, any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you the same thing: This is HARD work. It requires a great deal of discipline and sacrifice that is often not thought of or seen on the surface by an eager small business owner hopeful.

The expectations versus the reality of what running a small business are like can be a bit shocking for some

The expectations versus the reality of what running a small business are like can be a bit shocking for some, and it undeniably weeds out the ill-prepared and overly idealistic from the methodical and gritty set of folks.

Some misleading expectations that come to mind for some entrepreneurs are:

  • “I am going to be SO rich!”
  • “I’m my own boss, so I won’t have to work as hard as I have in my 9-5 office roles.”
  • “My product/service is so great that I won’t need to do a thing to attract customers, they’ll just come to me as soon as I launch.”

Here is the tough reality of all these delusions:

  • During the early days of your new business, you are more likely to spend more than you make. If making a fortune is the main motivation for starting a new venture, those with that mindset need not apply. Countless hours of hard work, unwavering effort, and customer nurturing need to be put into running a business. While passion and hard work are vital to gaining revenue, there is still no guarantee that a business will be successful.
  • While the first part is true, the latter could not be further from the truth. As a small business owner, until you have the funds and the ability to hire on staff, you will be doing all of the work. Even once you have employees to help, there is no assurance that your team will share the same appetite and drive to propel your business into success as you have planned. Taking a hands-on approach with your small business is one of the best ways to stay fiscally lean and ensure growth and progress.
  • Finding a way to stand out in today’s world and not get lost in all the noise is critical. Sure, your product or services may seem like the next best thing since sliced bread, but without building up brand awareness and a presence to the public via marketing, who will care? More importantly, putting in work to position your new business as a trailblazer in your industry benefits you in the long-term. With that said, never underestimate the power of leveraging your networks, being kind, and building thoughtful and mutually beneficial relationships.  

Now that we’ve dispelled some of the most common expectations, let’s dive into our 3 tips on how to be productive as a small business owner.

These tips will not only benefit you if you’re living on the reality side of being an entrepreneur but will also strengthen your abilities to work smarter, and lead with more self-control and compassion for yourself and your team.

Tip 1: Prioritize Your Tasks

It’s so painfully easy to fall into a pattern of doing what is ‘enjoyable’ first. We are all guilty of putting off certain obligations because they may not sit well with our state of mind at that moment.

When looking at your list of daily responsibilities, decide what is vital versus what is nice to do. Make lists of duties you take care of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly.

Include everything from the smallest things (checking your emails) to large (filing taxes).

Once you’ve accounted for everything, you may want to consider a system for prioritizing these tasks.

We like to use a little something called the Eisenhower Matrix.

It consists of four quadrants where the objective is to list tasks in a hierarchical method.

For the urgent and important box you plan out what to do first, the not urgent but important box is where you decide or schedule the task, in the urgent but not important box you delegate the task, and finally, for the not urgent and not important box, you eliminate the task accordingly.

This matrix, available here for you to download and use, effectively helps you flag the most important tasks and visually forces you to take stock of what needs to get done right away.

You can say goodbye to hiding from duties and putting them off, thanks to this brilliant and easy to use productivity and time management tool.

 Tip 2: Delegate Tasks Accordingly

Overworked and stressed out? Not sure if you have enough time to do ‘XYZ’ in addition to doing payroll and your list of one thousand other duties?

It’s time to take a full inventory of your teams’ strengths and delegate tasks accordingly.

It is surely noble to take full accountability for your business’s needs and work hard to fulfill them all, but there is nothing wrong with taking the time to seek and ask for help.

When it is clear that you just do not have the bandwidth to complete all the obligations necessary to stay afloat and thriving, the next best option is to assign duties to your steadfast employees or other contracted help.

Again, just like with the Eisenhower Matrix, it’s important to write it all down.

Visually taking notice of what tasks you need help with, if it can or cannot be delegated, and to whom it should be assigned to can help you wrap your head around your next steps and formulating an effective plan of action.

We’ve also created a handy task assignment worksheet for you to download and use to help you stay organized and successful as a small business owner. 

 You can thank us later.

Tip 3: Break Your Day Up Into Productive Chunks

What is one of the top reasons entrepreneurs and also employees in 9-5’s face burn-out?

The antiquated mindset of having to work a grueling and non-stop schedule to “get the most done” and be efficient.

We’d like to shed some light on this outdated model of working and how it is not the only way to work. Sure, it may work for some, but again the frequency of burn-out from this method of operating is high as opposed to working in productive time chunks.

At Dash Activate Online, as a fully distributed and remote digital marketing agency, we are huge proponents of the 90/20 rule.

So, what exactly is the 90/20 rule, you may be asking.

The 90/20 rule is essentially 90 minutes of work followed by a 20-minute break.

By following this method, you can get into an easily flowing state of work with each responsibility instead of having to start and stop throughout your workday. The constant starting and stopping of tasks can add up to quite a bit of time wasted throughout your day.

This flow-state also helps alleviate the stressful workday mindset so many of us carry from archaic office employment philosophies and practices.

The goal with the 90/20 rule is to work smarter, not harder, and to make the most of the time you have allotted yourself instead of attempting to work against.

If you want to learn more about how our founder, Darian James, uses this method, check out this video for more insight.

At Dash Activate Online, we firmly believe that everyone can win and prosper as an entrepreneur with the right mindset and the correct tools.

Remember, all good things are achievable and possible if you believe in yourself, want it badly enough, and work hard enough to see them into fruition.

We hope that all these tips and extra resources help set you up to be the most successful version of your entrepreneurial self.

Now go forth and prioritize, delegate, and break up your day like the dashing entrepreneur that you are!

You can download the Dash Activate Online Eisenhower Matrix and task assignment worksheet templates here:



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