Discipline and Accountability: Survey of 1000 Entrepreneurs Reveals Challenges Women Face
By: Felena Hanson
For almost a decade, I’ve helped organized a Meetup Group for female entrepreneurs in San Diego. We talk about business tools, focus, strategies and time management skills, and provide each other with support in our various endeavors.
One of the intake questions we ask when people sign up to join the group is, “What do you need to be successful in your business?” Over the years, I’ve collected nearly 1000 responses to this question and the answers provide key insight into the the challenges women entrepreneurs face.
Overall, the entrepreneurs’ answers seem to follow a similar theme: there are specific challenges that come with working outside of a traditional office setting and hierarchy. Particular among these challenges is the lack of discipline and accountability that can come with being you own boss. When you’re an entrepreneur working on your own, you often have no one to answer to. There’s no one around to make sure you meet your deadlines and there’s no one there to reprimand you if you fail to meet them.
Time management was one of the most common themes in this survey. Many respondents cited staying focused and prioritizing tasks as major barriers to their success.
[Related: 5 Tips to Improve Focus and Get Things Done]
Said one respondent, “I need resources on how to manage time and organize the multiple facets of my business. As a small business owner I’m a jlll-of-all-trades and I am able to prioritize and do the necessary essentials however I want to maximize my working capacity.”
Other respondents said their work was hindered by procrastination, while frequent interruptions and feeling overwhelmed were identified as key issues. “If I only maintain my focus and stay in a creation mentality, I am able to make whatever I want happen,” said one respondent. “If I get distracted, my goals are not achieved.”
Part of time management is knowing when to say no. Often, entrepreneurs, in their desire to do it all, take on more than they can realistically handle. This is especially true for female entrepreneurs. For years, the dearth of female entrepreneurs has meant women breaking out on their own had no peers to turn to. Now, women with entrepreneurial experience feel bound to help those coming up the ranks behind them.
Said one respondent: “I do many things and would benefit by learning better time management skills and learning to say no, politely, to the far-too-many requests for me to donate my time, knowledge and books.”
The challenges detailed by these women are common. In 2017, printing company Instantprint released a survey of 500 small business owners. According to the survey, 27 percent of respondents cited poor time management as the reason they spend so much time on tasks which don’t help them make a profit.
Poor time management skills can keep entrepreneurs from achieving their goals. And it’s believed to be one of the reasons people often fail when setting off on their own. According to the Small Business Association 30 percent of new businesses fail during their first two years. “We are our own worst enemy,” said one respondent in our San Diego survey. “Why can’t we discipline ourselves?”
Mastering self discipline allows a person to better manage their time and work more efficiently, but it’s not a skill that comes easily. From the time we’re born, there is usually someone looking over our shoulder telling us what to do. At home, it’s our parents, at school it’s our teachers and when we enter the workforce, it’s our boss. Avoiding procrastination and better managing your time can be especially difficult when you’re on your own. But self-discipline means looking at your responsibilities differently and taking ownership over your success.
However, while self discipline is definitely something entrepreneurs should commit themselves to, it doesn’t hurt to develop a support system.
According to the Association for Talent Development, people are 65 percent likely to meet a goal after committing to another person. Additionally, ATD has found that long term accountability measures are helpful. The organization found that a person’s chance for success increases to 95 percent when they engage in regular meetings to monitor their progress.
In the second part of this piece I discuss how building relationships with others is an integral component to success as an entrepreneur. Discipline and accountability are just two of the issues our survey of women entrepreneurs revealed. Check out part two where I explain how our emotional and mental health is is key to overcoming the challenges we face.
Previously published on www.ellevatenetwork.com.