How to manage yourself – having the self-discipline to run a business

The success of many a start-up often comes down to blood, sweat, tears – and self-discipline. While running your own business can mean more freedom, it also means that you need to be able to manage yourself: for some, self-discipline comes naturally, but for most of us it’s an uphill battle.
A business doesn’t run itself, and, in a world full of distractions, how do successful business owners follow through to get things done?

Here are some tips that can help you manage yourself – so that you can manage your start-up:

Set achievable goals

Set yourself a specific target. This can involve anything you want to do, whether it’s getting up earlier or finally doing your tax return – but be realistic: start small, and set a reasonable deadline so that it’s not open-ended. When you achieve a goal, reward yourself.

The more milestones you reach, the easier it’ll be to hit those big goals – like increasing turnover, or landing that big client. Keep yourself motivated by tracking your progress (use a goal-setting app or a simple journal).

Change your perception of willpower

Most people give up before they even begin by claiming they have no willpower. But it’s not something that you have or don’t have: it’s a behaviour you can learn. Understanding that willpower is something that needs to be practised is half the battle won.

Like goal-setting, you need to start small – and you need to implement an “if X happens, I’ll do Y” approach. For example, want to wake up earlier? Don’t leave it up to willpower to get out of bed, rather set your alarm 10 minutes earlier at first (and put the alarm out of arm’s reach so you need to physically get up to switch it off). Keep doing this for a week, then set it 15 minutes earlier, and so on. That way you practise – and then instil – an early-rising habit.

Remove distractions

It makes it much easier to remove distractions so that they don’t add to temptation in the first place. This takes willpower, but as we’ve already mentioned, you’ll need to put a plan in place in order to guarantee success.

For example, if you are working on a desktop, you can use an app blocker to block the websites that distract you (try Google Chrome’s Stay Focused extension), or if you have a habit of checking your social feed on your phone, simply delete all the social media apps. Need to get more work done in the evenings? Cancel your Netflix subscription, and put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode.


There are many tasks that we would rather do instead of others, but those tasks may not be as important. Start by writing down what you need to do and when it needs to be done by. Next, rank your tasks in order of importance and urgency. You will find that some may be important but not urgent or vice versa. Start with tasks that are both important and urgent and then work your way through to tasks that are less urgent and/or less important. You’ll have a visual representation of all the tasks at hand, so it’s easy to see how far you’ve come and what still needs to be done (pro tip: try keep your top to-dos to a maximum of three).

Effectively managing yourself will help you manage your business. Contact Outsource Finance to get you started on your path to success.

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