7 Ways to Work Fewer Hours But Get More Business Traction

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!
Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy
7 Ways to Work Fewer Hours But Get More Business Traction
Image credit: Shutterstock
Guest Writer
Veteran startup mentor, executive, blogger, author, tech professional, and Angel investor.
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In a startup, or any business with limited resources, the last thing you need is people who put in lots of time and effort, but never seem to move the ball. Successful entrepreneurs must never stop looking for ways to improve their own productivity, as well as the efficiency and momentum of the team.

The need for this focus may seem obvious to you, but I still hear many complaints from entrepreneurs and employees alike on the hours they work, and how they are underpaid for their time. In fact, most small companies still pay many key employees by the hour, without regard to their output. They seem to ignore the old idiom that you get what you pay for -- hours, not results.

Related: Quit Working Pointlessly Hard and Just Get More Done

Based on my own many years of experience as both an employee and an executive, here are my key recommendations to improve your business productivity, traction and momentum:

1. Implement business metrics, and tie incentives to results.

All team members, whether salaried or hourly, will get the message quickly if they understand what they are being measured on, and feel the positive impact of results. Incentives don’t need to be all cash. In fact, new studies show more results come from peer and non-cash recognition.

2. Incentivize everyone to act rather than react.

This simply means that everyone should be trained and motivated to prioritize and focus on the important items, and proactively attack those first. Don’t be driven by the “crisis of the moment,” which may have been averted by a little early effort. There are never enough hours to do everything.

3. Practice and preach the Pareto principle.

This principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that, in most environments, 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the actions. In most businesses, 80 percent of the revenue comes from 20 percent of the customers. Perfection is not an affordable target in product development, sales or customer support.

Related: Pay People for Commitment, Not for Time or Results

4. Leverage the best tools and technology.

I still find dedicated team members using calculators and paper for budgets and financial statements, rather than spreadsheets or other modern tools. As an entrepreneur or executive, it’s your responsibility to provide the tools and training to do the job productively. Your business traction depends on it.

5. Promote a culture of balanced business-family lifestyle.

Working 20 hours a day on a regular basis is not conducive to long-term momentum or business traction. As the entrepreneur, you set the model for others on the team by your own actions, and by the demands you make. Encourage time off for family, vacations and outside activities.

6. Encourage more communication and less isolation.

Executives and team members hiding in their offices, contrary to popular belief, are not optimizing business productivity. More and more companies are eliminating private offices, in favor of more open bays, where everyone naturally interacts, learns from each other, and works as a team.

7. Celebrate key successes, even small ones.

Entrepreneurs must never miss an opportunity to highlight results and milestones achieved for the entire team to demonstrate that the real focus is not on hours worked. Don’t burn yourself out, or let your employees feel like work is a forced march with no end in sight.

There is a definite connection between the fact that Google has been ranked by Fortune in 2015 as one of the best companies to work for. It has built a culture and a continuing focus on traction, working smarter and enjoying it more, rather than working more and enjoying it less.

It helps to think of you and your new business as a high-performance vehicle that has a long hard race to run before success. It takes careful attention to traction and momentum, not just at the start, but at every curve and obstacle along the way. Don’t burn out the tires and the engine on the first lap. Keeping the pedal to the metal blindly is not be the best way to win your business race.

Related: 10 Strategies for Working Much Smarter

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Create your business plan in half the time with twice the impact using Entrepreneur's BIZ PLANNING PLUS powered by LivePlan. Try risk free for 60 days.

Latest on Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Media, Inc. values your privacy. In order to understand how people use our site generally, and to create more valuable experiences for you, we may collect data about your use of this site (both directly and through our partners). By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the use of that data. For more information on our data policies, please visit our Privacy Policy.