Women entrepreneurs need to think long term in a short term world
Even before Covid-19, it was difficult for some women entrepreneurs to take the time for long-term strategic thinking about the growth of their businesses. Time, especially for women with school-aged children, has become an even more precious commodity during the pandemic. As entrepreneurs learn to run their businesses in the age of Covid-19, it is essential that we reorient ourselves to future possibilities in a time of uncertainty.
“During the pandemic, we felt like we had no control,” said Dorie Clark, professor, strategy consultant, speaker and thought leader at Duke and Columbia Universities. “We cannot control public health, we cannot control government regulations, we cannot control policies or where we are allowed to travel.”
By making small, incremental changes, Dorie Clark believes we can. She is the author of the recently published book, The long game: how to be a long-term thinker in a short-term world. The book provides both inspiring stories and practical advice on how to take back control.
Take control by setting a direction
It is extremely stressful when things change every day and you feel like you have no control. Long-term thinking is powerful because it allows you to realize that while at some point you may not have control over a lot of things, you do have control over the general direction in which you are heading. . “The things that we can do, even if they are small things, allow us, over time, to consistently move in the direction we want,” Clark said. “There is power in small, deliberate steps that are taken over time.”
Think in waves
You can’t do everything all the time. “Think in waves,” Clark exclaimed. “The waves peak, then recede.”
Give yourself grace. Don’t blame yourself for not being as productive as you would like. There are emergency situations. When social distancing was at its peak, you may have spent more time providing care. Now that things are starting to return to normal, the kids are back to school, and the social distancing restrictions have eased, this is your chance to spend more time thinking about your business.
Create more space
Save time by creating more space. Reallocate the time you spent on caregiving. Develop systems to set limits on your time. Rather than saying “no” to someone who wants to meet them, create a counter-offer.
“There are very standard defaults of what people will ask for,” Clark said. Write a script for each. For some, Clark sends them relevant articles that deal with the problem. She has a lot of articles on LinkedIn and Medium. Those Clark wants to get to know are invited to group events. She frequently organizes virtual cocktails with eight or 10 people.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there,” Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice in Wonderland. “We don’t want to be jellyfish floating in the ocean and go where the waves take you,” Clark said. The power of goal setting is that it sets a direction for you. This does not mean that the goal is immutable. Opportunities and challenges will present themselves, and you will have to adjust and adapt.
Leverage your strength
Petra Kolber is an author and speaker on topics such as fitness and happiness. At 56, she has a daring dream: to become a DJ. Some said it was a strange goal. They thought she was too old to be a DJ. Kolber proved them wrong.
First of all, Kolber learned to be a DJ. Then, she used her strength as a speaker to create DJ opportunities by bringing together her two areas of expertise.
Take a long-term view
Kara Cutruzzula, a freelance journalist, knows that things take a long time to get through. She launched a daily newsletter on creativity. “You might ask ‘why would Kara, a freelance journalist, give what she gets paid for,’” Clark said. Over the years, Cutruzzula has developed a following of a few thousand loyal readers. One of those readers was a book publisher who had been commissioned to publish a book on creativity. Because the publisher was a newsletter reader, Cutruzzula was constantly on the publisher’s radar. Cutruzzula didn’t have to write a book. She had already established herself as an expert on the subject and a good writer, and she was asked to write it.
Take baby steps
Dave Crenshaw, a productivity and time management expert, talks about what he calls “the distance to go”. Some cars tell you how many miles you have until you run out of gas. He suggests that you think about your day and how you allocate your time in the same way.
Crenshaw suggests setting a deadline, much like the distance to “empty” on a gas gauge. For example, maybe you want to stop working at 6 p.m. This may not seem realistic at first, so build muscle by taking incremental steps. If you usually finish work by 9 p.m., make a goal of finishing 15 minutes earlier. Then slowly back it up until you reach your ultimate goal.
How will you integrate long-term thinking into your strategic plan?