How to Grow Your Business – Top Tip # 12 – Work hard or Work smart?

Posted by Bennie Groenewald on 07 June 2018.

Bennie Groenewald

LLM Tax Law, B.Proc, HDip Tax

The Tax Shop Head Office

More about Bennie Groenewald

After having qualified and practiced as a Commercial lawyer Bennie worked in the Banking and Financial services industry for 25 years across multiple market segments in South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and the UK, the last 14 years of which in senior and executive leadership positions. During this time, he dealt extensively with cross-border banking and finance including project finance, asset finance, debt capital markets and derivatives, including the legal aspects thereof. In recent years, Bennie has played an active leading role in investment, credit and risk management as well as sound corporate governance.
In this, the last part of a series of tips of how to grow your business, I deal with “working hard versus working smart” to achieve success, in fact, I believe hard work is still imperative if you want to be a successful businessperson.
Let me start by saying that hard work isn’t the solution for everything and on its own not enough to make your business succeed but it separates you from the majority of the people who aren’t motivated enough to work hard for anything. The solution to growing your business and be successful is contained in a combination of the samples of advice that I have shared with you over several weeks.
The most important advice to conclude with is to emphasize to start-up entrepreneurs and small business owners to never underestimate the amount of effort, perseverance and discipline it requires to grow a successful and sustainable business. Perseverance is one of the most common traits of successful business people.
But today, more hours worked do not necessarily equate to a better performance. So, what is the solution then? Research by Morten T. Hansen, the author of Great at Work, showed “To work smart means to maximize the value of your work by selecting a few activities and applying intense targeted effort.” He went on to say that “The phrase ‘work smarter, not harder’ has been thrown around so much over the past decade that it has become a cliché. Who wants to ‘work dumb?’ But many people do in fact work dumb, because they don’t know exactly how to work smart.”
Here are a few ways to start working smarter:
1. Streamline through technology
Putting technology solutions into action by using the most effective tools. To create a system, task or procedure once, modify it only when necessary, reuse it for recurring tasks in order to save time and automate it where possible, adds to organizational productivity and is a smart way to do business.
2. Passion and purpose
Combine passion and a sense of purpose into running your business. In Morten Hansen’s words, “Passion is ‘do what you love,’ while purpose is ‘do what contributes’, and people who ‘match’ passion with purpose perform much better.”
3. Learn how to say no
By limiting your goals, that is to say do less, you will do better. Avoid taking on assignments that are either not profitable or consumes too much time because it falls outside your area of expertise. To say no is a key skill to learn in order to succeed in business today. Another valuable skill linked to that, is to do one thing at a time.
4. Drive outputs that are valuable
Start identifying the real value or benefit of certain tasks and then set yourself goals accordingly. The secret in business, is that volume (i.e. working harder) does not necessarily equate to value.
5. Tighten up meetings
Too many meetings often end without a specific desired outcome and it can be one of the biggest grinds on organizational effectiveness. Define the purpose and expectations upfront and limit meetings to 30 minutes.
6. Hire people smarter than you
Then use the collective power of your team. Bring in talented people and let them do what they do best.
It is longer “business as usual” but don’t give up on your dreams and your passion. Lighten your workload by using online tools and software. Use your time wisely, putting it towards constantly improving and growing your business.
In Morten Hansen’s words, “Work on how you work, not on work-life balance.”