Press the Reset Button

Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary is remembered for saying, “If you want to get rich, start working 25 hours a day, seven days a week.” He’s not wrong in thinking that. Unless you give 110% of yourself every single day your business won’t stand a chance. It is not only full-time work; it is your life. A survey from New York Enterprise Report found that small business owners work twice as much as regular employees. The study also found that 33% of small business owners reported working more than 50 hours per week, and 25% said they work more than 60 hours a week.

Any small business owner will be able to understand that a regular 9-5 pm schedule is not what owning your own business is about. Especially when you start from scratch. The fantasy of working your own hours and setting your work schedule goes out the window the minute you step into the field of entrepreneurship. You are the captain of your ship, and you are going to do everything you can to ensure it does not sink. And if you are starting from the ground up and have a small team, then in most cases, you are shorthanded, and it is all hands on deck. It can become frustrating, nerve-wracking, and at times overwhelming. “When you’re an entrepreneur, the hours you work are a meaningless measure,” said Christine Baker, co-founder, and director of Strategic Nudge. “You work until you achieve what you need – whether that’s your first product launch, first customer sale, the first year of $100,000 turnover, or whatever. If that takes 20 or 70 hours a week, so be it.”

So it’s important to remember a few things in the initial phase of this awe-inspiring journey. From the numbers above, it is clear that you are not alone if you feel overwhelmed by the time spent on your new venture. These extra hours you’re spending are shared by other entrepreneurs and start-ups who are trying to maintain work-life balance.

Is it sustainable, and will it take a toll on your physical and mental health? Research says that consistently working long hours can decrease productivity and your physical and mental health. Popular opinion may suggest that you try and put in 60+ hours a week, but science disputes this. Everyone has their limits and potential to go long runs without taking a break. It is important to monitor your physical and mental well-being, rather than trying to copy what someone else is doing or advising. The important thing is to remember that unless you take a break, recharge, and reset yourself, you will not be bringing your best to the table day in and day out.

A few tips on how to keep yourself on your toes and reset when the long hours feel overwhelming:

  • Rest and Regroup – This is one of the hardest things for business owners to do. But your state of mind will not be able to focus for endless hours on the same set of problems and needs to reset. Walk away, call a friend or watch a movie. Do something to help you turn your attention away for a while. When you return to your work, you will be able to focus better.

  • Sleep – Get your 8-10 hours in. Sleep is one of the things that will take a hit when you start your business. You are eating, breathing, and thinking constantly about how to scale up, but unless you recharge physically you will not be able to go the extra mile.

  • Health is One of Your Assets – Your health, as the Founder and CEO of your new venture, is just as important as one of your company assets. Without it, your company will not survive. Take time to make that annual checkup or see that doctor when your health is not 100%.

  • Make Time for People – .Take time to connect with your loved ones and friends. It cannot be all work and no play. You need to make sure you are not forgetting about the support system that got you to this point in your life. They are an incredibly important part of your journey. Make time for them.

  • Don’t Let Your Business Take Over – My last piece of advice: do not let yourself be overtaken by your business in such a way that it becomes everything your life is about. Make a schedule, chalk out time for your short-term and long-term objectives and create a task list to achieve them. In the end, it is a job, a form of employment, and a source of income, and you need to learn to turn it off when it needs to be turned off and get back in the game when required.

In the end, you are here because you believed in a concept, a product, and most importantly in yourself. You are going to get up each morning with the drive to do better, to create something people will buy and remember. That energy is what drives us to work more than 60 hours a week, not take breaks and keep charging forward. That is not a bad thing. As long as we can sustain it and create a system where we give ourselves opportunities to reset.

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people cant.


Managed Digital Marketing for Your Business

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Giving Advice is Easy……

“One word of advice for your new business…

Not sure if you want to head in that direction…

Hmmm not sure if this business idea will actually make you any money?”

If you are a new business owner and someone who has just started laying the foundation of your dream, you must have heard at least one of these phrases from well-wishers, or in some cases ill-givers. We all get advice, whether we want to hear it or not. And actually, in South Asian cultures, if someone isn’t giving you advice they may be regarded as ‘someone who is not close to you or not serving your best interest.’ Advice giving is a professional sport here, to say the least. Throughout our lives, we’ve probably heard continuous tidbits of advice from family members, relatives, friends, our neighbors, and completely random people. Don’t get me wrong, advice is not always bad. Listening to others is a great way to get a good feel for how your business is doing. Advice from clients and customers is key in making your product or service better.

But as a new business owner, you need to understand a few things when you receive this advice.

One, whoever is giving it to you should know the goals of your business. What is it that you are trying to achieve right now, and how you are going about doing that?

Two, if they take the time to listen to you and your ‘elevator pitch’ and then give you some feedback, that’s great.

Often we find people who are keen to advise new business owners but do not understand what the business is and what it wants to achieve. We all are looking to make changes to our business plan that will benefit our customers, our employees, and in the end, our brand and company. But, taking advice from people who do not keep all of these things in mind when offering words of wisdom can lead new owners to doubt themselves and their objectives.

And that brings me to the number one thing that can derail your entire new business dream: SELF-DOUBT. I cannot help but link to a recent reply Richard Branson gave on his weekly LinkedIn Ask Richard series where someone asked him, “How do you overcome doubt when chasing a dream.” His response: “What I’ve learnt throughout my life is that every success is built upon a thousand failures (or ‘opportunities to learn’, as I like to think of them). Whenever doubt creeps in, I remind myself that dreams aren’t linear.”

He goes on to explain an instance when the day after he launched Virgin Atlantic, the airline, a bank manager came to his office and threatened to close the whole place down. Imagine if Richard gave up then? There are thousands of other examples similar to this where if people had given up, wonderful inventions, companies, and ideas would never exist. As a business owner, you are playing the long game, remember this. If you can accept this and work every day to improve your product, your service, and your brand, you will leap over the small hurdles along the way and get closer to your overall goal.

To end, two of my favorite quotes:

Your dream doesn’t have an expiration date. Take a deep breath and try again.”

K.T. Witten

“Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.”

Charles F Kettering

Sabina Ahmed,
CEO & Founder of squareONE

Back to squareONE

Fourteen years ago, I did what everyone does after they graduate with a Master’s degree; look for a job. After being hired, I was finally earning a steady source of income; had a desk to go to everyday; and a group of people who became family more than work colleagues. I was fresh, naïve and had only a few months of an internship under by belt. As luck would have it, someone took a chance on me and I was hired. To this day I admire and look up to that individual, because I am sure I was not the perfect person for the job. If I had not been hired, it could well have put me on a different course career-wise. But, I was eager, hardworking and wanted to help the community the organization was working for, and I probably conveyed all that during my interview. Bottom line: it took some faith on both ends. Faith in myself that I can do this and the faith the organization had in hiring me.

Today, as I launch my new company squareONE, I am literally back to square one and drawing on the same faith from the deepest corners of myself, as I did during my first job interview. Hoping that the people who sign on with squareONE share that faith so together we can achieve great things. Our mission: To help small businesses do business better using digital marketing tools. squareONE is for the entrepreneurs who put all of themselves towards an idea and made it happen. It’s for those who have long-term plans but need digital tools to make sure they can realize them. It’s for the business owners who know they have the potential to grow their online customer base, but don’t know how to do it. I am excited to work with you to achieve all of this and more.

I understand the time, patience and giving it ‘your all’ concept of starting out on your own, when no one believes in you, your ideas or your business and when at the end of the day you only have yourself to rely on. I have worked with some incredible people and learned some lifelong lessons the hard way. I know that persistence and hard work pay off. If you believe in yourself and your potential, there is nothing that can stop you from achieving what you aim to accomplish.

I started squareONE with the realization that there is a huge gap between how small businesses are using digital marketing tools presently and how they should be using them to scale their business. This past year, those with a strong online presence withstood COVID-19 lockdowns and the absence of physical shoppers in the market. Those with the proper digital tools in place were able to still cater to customers and showcase their products in a way that appealed to online shoppers. Those with little to no online presence did not fare so well.

As I launch squareONE today, I am eager and excited to support small business owners in their journey towards excellence. I look forward to sharing inspiring stories of entrepreneurs and how adoption of digital marketing tools changed their businesses. Stay tuned, we are just getting started!

July 12, 2021

Sabina Ahmed,
CEO & Founder of squareONE

About squareONE

squareONE is a business consultancy firm focusing on providing managed digital marketing services to scale businesses. Founder and CEO Sabina Ahmed, is a seasoned communication professional with over 14 years of experience working for renowned international humanitarian organizations and US based nonprofits. She has been a freelance communication consultant for the past ten years providing marketing, PR and communication support to private businesses and international organizations.

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