Managing Expectations

I realized long ago that I couldn’t be all things to all people (that particular epiphany sprang from having children and a diverse family). Entrepreneurs must apply the same consideration when the challenge and responsibility of running a business teeter towards overwhelming.

Recognizing that your business may require you to be “Jack of all trades” (or Jill, in the case of WECM clients), odds are that “master of none” is how you may feel day-to-day. Having to juggle too many balls can have a significant effect on your ability to get things done and achieve success. In order to manage competing demands in your life or business, make sure that you’re plugged into the real reason(s) you chose to be an entrepreneur.

The familiar adage “it’s hard to prioritize when everything is a priority” comes to mind. While they’re not the only people who fall into the ‘I’m-the-only-one-who-knows-how-to-do-it-right-and-if-I-don’t-do-it-myself-it-won’t-get-done’ trap, more entrepreneurs would benefit sooner if they took time to evaluate what is most important to establish and maintain internal clarity in order to better navigate the external pressures over which they have less control.

Many business owners are so focused on the details of what’s right in front of them (the short view) that they forget to step back to consider the long view (the 60,000-foot perspective). The key is finding balance between managing one’s own expectations as well as the expectations of others—key employees, customers, suppliers, family and friends.

While browsing AmericanExpress’ Openforum on productivity (a resource offering insights, inspiration, and connections to grow your business), contributor Mike Periu offered some simple and strategic approaches to help filter demands:

  • Determine if any of the competing issues are unreasonable or unrealistic (discard these right away and deal with the consequences with a clean conscience); 
  • Ascertain which competing demand has the potential to do more harm if rejected (are there risks that need your consideration and by ignoring/delaying your response it may cause injury to you, your business, or to others);
  • Decide which competing demand will result in greater benefit to your business if executed appropriately (remember to honour yourself and your business; put your best interests ahead of others’); 
  • Pretend you have half the time you really have (don’t deceive yourself by thinking tasks take less time than they really do…I know I’m too often guilty of that);
  • Use a life line (don’tbe afraid to turn to someone for input, clarity, or advice and learn to delegate).

Expectations managed—decisions made—time to move on…

– Alanna Keefe