The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘hardworking’ as ‘constantly, regularly, or habitually engaged in earnest and energetic work’. An entrepreneur must be hardworking by nature to excel in their field. But is hard work alone enough to keep a business running? Or should they try smart work?
A hardworking entrepreneur can keep their business afloat with their existing skills. However, they will encounter new challenges which will force them to reevaluate their current practices.
Hence, an entrepreneur must also ‘work smart’.
What is the difference between Hard Work and Smart Work?
Hard work involves diligence and commitment to a task to achieve pre-set goals. Smart work applies hard work to make the best use of resources to complete tasks efficiently.
For example, a hardworking entrepreneur dedicates several hours daily to complete their to-do list and reach their targets. Meanwhile, a smart worker seeks ways in which they can achieve the same or more over a shorter period.
The Benefits of Smart Work:
Offers Better Insight into Work – To work smarter, an entrepreneur needs to thoroughly understand their job. This is necessary to identify any shortcomings and implement improvements wherever needed.
Increased Productivity – Smart work focuses on an organised, efficient use of resources. Hence, productivity levels are likely to increase as the entrepreneur learns to better use available tools and resources
Time Efficient – A smart worker will complete the same volume (or even more) of work over a shorter period. This leaves them with more time to spend on leisure or working on other areas of their business.
Better Quality of Work – Using resources such as staff and technology wisely will improve the business’s output on both qualitative and quantitative levels.
Higher Savings – As work processes become more streamlined, with ineffective tasks weeded out, long-term operating costs will decrease.
Increased Customer Satisfaction – Following the improvement of the company’s products and/or services, there will be a positive response from the customer base. This comes from feedback and word-of-mouth marketing as well as increased sales.
Improved Brand Image – An efficiently run company that produces high-quality products or services will gain an excellent reputation. A reputable brand image can, in turn, play a key role in the company’s marketing strategy.
How to Work Smart:
Get Organised – The most important tasks should be identified, along with the work processes for each of them. This helps identify the general workflow, as well as areas which need improvement.
Create a Flexible Schedule – An ideal work schedule should allow an entrepreneur to make the best of their most productive hours and environments. Instead of working long hours in an office, entrepreneurs can take advantage of being their own boss by choosing flexible hours and working from home.
Set Short Deadlines – Shorter deadlines enable entrepreneurs to accordingly adjust their goals to fit within the smaller timeframe. To achieve these goals, smarter working practices need to be applied.
Focus – With flexible working hours and shorter deadlines, it’s easier to focus on the tasks at hand. Better focus can be achieved through methods like the Pomodoro technique (dividing work into 25-minute timed sprints) or Eat the Frog (tackling the hardest task first).
Batch Similar Tasks – Dr. Sahar Yousef, a cognitive neuroscientist from UC Berkeley, states the brain works best when it focuses on one task at a time. Batching makes the best use of this theory by dedicating a specific timeframe to working on similar tasks and limiting waste of energy from multi-tasking.
Delegate Tasks – For those with employees working under them, entrepreneurs should note their individual skill sets and assign tasks best suited for them. This division of labour improves productivity as each person is specialised in their task and gets better at performing it.
Automate Processes – Wherever possible, repetitive tasks should be automated. Technology can be implemented to simplify a range of workflows, such as sending automated responses to customer queries or mass-producing sellable items.
Listen to Feedback – Whether positive or negative, feedback from customers and business partners is useful for identifying what works and what areas need improvement. Keeping track of such opinions helps entrepreneurs gauge whether they are on the right track and when they can introduce changes.
Hard Work vs Smart Work
Smart work delivers many benefits for both the entrepreneur and the business. However, hard work is an essential component in achieving the desired state of smart work. Without hard work driving the many smart work methodologies described earlier, it would be near impossible to achieve the desired success.
Entrepreneurs never really decide between hard and smarter work; the successful ones always do both. A dynamic entrepreneur can make the best of both worlds to nurture success on their own terms.