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Time management is of fundamental importance to startup success

Posted on Monday, August 6, 2018

The ability of entrepreneurs to manage both time and themselves determine their chances of success, says Jean-Michel Ledru, co-director of the MSc in Entrepreneurship and director of the EDHEC Young Entrepreneur [EYE] incubator

It takes time to identify what makes a startup successful and then extract trends. While much has been said and written about paying attention to your customers/users, the application of lean start-up methodology and other subjects, one aspect is largely under-estimated, namely the way in which entrepreneurs organise themselves and live their project. In practice, time management is of fundamental importance. In most cases, entrepreneurs have a limited time in which to succeed, whether it is the time needed to generate a first salary and/or the time-to-market. Everything must be done to succeed during this window of opportunity, failing which entrepreneurs risk seeing the train pass them by.

So the ability of entrepreneurs to manage both time and themselves are fundamental factors that determine their chances of success. They often view time as being like sand trickling through an hourglass in a way over which they have no control. This vision applies to their days, weeks, etc. A good method for entrepreneurs to re-appropriate time involves filling the hourglass from the bottom with blocks of work that provide a structure. Their days are then no longer imposed on them, but lived in the way they want. Once entrepreneurs regain mastery over their time, they can optimise it in the interests of performance and to achieve their desired objectives. For high-level athletes, planning rest periods provides a means of over-compensation, while for entrepreneurs, planning time for research, leisure and/or self-development enables them to continue living their project in a state of permanent enthusiasm.

So once objectives are clearly expressed and actions are planned, is it just a question of following the plan? Practice suggests it is not that simple. In reality, entrepreneurs are liable to be solicited from all angles, with demands on their time disrupting or even wiping out their good intentions. In order to resist and optimise their time, entrepreneurs need to consistently ask themselves the following questions:

What would happen if I stopped doing what I’m doing now? If the answer is “nothing”, then there is no longer any reason for doing it

What am I going to do today? Is it going to help achieve my established objectives? If the answer is “no”, then the entrepreneur needs to refocus on actions that do help to achieve them. This question needs to be asked every morning, but also every week and every month.

More than applying a rule, it is a question of developing a mindset. Each moment of time, can be a moment won…or lost. In broad terms, entrepreneurs should have a mindset where every day needs to be their preferred day, whether they are on holiday or not. This approach is essential for learning how to look at obstacles, to face them more calmly and thereby to see them as natural features of the road. Once this approach has been imbibed, entrepreneurs must also set aside time for themselves to optimise their performance.



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