Blog with Paul Gertner

The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma

Where should I be spending my time?

Ok, you are an entrepreneur in business for yourself… perhaps a one person operation or maybe you have someentrepreneur working on his computer and taking notes part time support staff but each day you have to face a big question:  Where do I spend my time?  What activity will deliver the best return on my investment?  What can I do that will help best grow my business?  What should I work on today?

Obviously if you are like me, a magician, speaker or a performer with a show on the schedule that evening the answer is simple.  You need to prepare for that show and go out and do your very best job on stage tonight.  But say you have a week off with no shows you are sitting in your office maybe with some video video games with the help of a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive boost, but the stacks of paper that has built up you need to figure out what you should work on today?

It is not an easy question to answer.  Steven Covey created a great time management quadrant in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective people.  Highly recommended reading.

Quadrant I Important & Urgent

  • For immediate and important deadlines.

Quadrant II Not Urgent but Important

  • For long-term strategizing and development.

Quadrant III Not Important but Urgent

  • For time pressured distractions. They are not really important, but someone wants it now.

Quadrant IV Not Important & Not Urgent

  • For those activities that yield little to any value. These are activities that are often used for taking a break from time pressured and important activities.

Many people find that most of their activities fall into quadrant I and III, and of course without any planning we will spend way too much time in quadrant IV.   According to Covey, the ideal is to spend a much time as possible in Quadrant II, but that is easier said than done.

So before you do anything else, take a break and try this Quadrant II activity.

Figuring out your strengths as an entrepreneur

Take some time and do an analysis of your skill sets.  What are you really good at?  What parts of your job do you like the best?  What parts of your business are you NOT as effective at as you would like to be?  What areas could you be doing better on?

Chances are you might come up with a list that looks like this.

  • I love performing in front of an audience.  Doing my show is what I’m best at.
  • I love creating new magic and inventing new tricks.
  • I love practicing new techniques and learning new sleights.
  • I enjoy writing marketing copy and material … but I’m a better magician than marketer.
  • I have a nice website it’s functional but I think it’s looking a little dated.
  • I hate negotiating with clients about the price of my show.
  • I need a social media presence but I have no desire to tweet each day.
  • I don’t like the sales process of selling my show.  I’m a magician, not a salesperson.

Now once you have your list, you need to look at it closely and then you need to create a plan to address those areas that you either don’t enjoy or that need improvement.

Then you have three choices:

  1. You can study and learn to improve your performance in that area.
  2. You can hire someone who specializes in that area and pay them to do it for you.
  3. You can keep doing what you are doing and procrastinate deciding between choice 1 and 2 until you die and then it is no longer an issue.

Those are your choices.  I would strongly suggest you take a very close look at number 2.  A few years back I decided I needed to update my website, but being the control freak I am I decided I was going to do it myself.  Three years later—and still sitting there with the old website—I finally hired a firm that specializes in website design and paid them a LOT of money to design a new site.  Initially, I was resistant because of the price but of course they did a much better job than I could ever have done… and they did it on time and on budget.  Best of all, while they were working on my new website, I was doing what I enjoy most…creating some new magic for the show.

Entrepreneur to entrepreneur, my suggestion when you get that overwhelmed feeling (I just had it this morning) remind yourself that no one is an expert in every area of business and getting help from other experts can really pay off.  So first sit down and do an analysis of your skill sets and determine what you do best and where you should be spending your time….then find a way to make that happen more often.  You will be glad that you did.


Paul Gertner is nationally recognized speaker and corporate magician, whose honors include multiple Tonight Show appearances, performing at a presidential inauguration, and winning three international competitions. He can be hired as a trade show magician or keynote presenter. For more information, visit


Posted in Magical Thinking, Magicians Only, Trade Show Booth Ideas on July 19, 2017 by Paul Gertner.

8 Responses to The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma

  1. Jim Krenz: July 19, 2017 at 4:33 am

    I believe that the time management quadrant dates back to Dwight D. Eisenhower.


  2. Paul Gertner: July 22, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Would not surprise me if it did. Thanks Jim.

  3. Eric P Meredith: July 19, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Great thoughts Paul. As a corporate cog, I can tell you that the same challenges, fears, and overwhelming ambiguity that affects magicians and entrepreneurs, also affects businessmen, nurses,and jockeys. I’m a disciple of the Franklin Time Management system, and plan every day, week, month, etc.

    You can’t really determine what is important for today if you can’t articulate what is important in your life. We all get the same number of hours each day, so it’s all about prioritizing the important tasks ahead of the trivial. Plans are worthless; planning is everything.

  4. Paul Gertner: July 22, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    I remember someone on stage saying “Ideas are a Dime a Dozen… the real money goes to those that can Implement them. Ouch! How true.

  5. Lou: July 20, 2017 at 4:54 am

    Thanks Paul. I just got some books on how to make my brain better. Thanks for the quad.

  6. Paul Gertner: July 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks Lou… check out the Steven Covey book if you have not read that one yet.

  7. Raymond Rivera: July 22, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Once again Paul you hit the nail on the head. Just recently I was in the same quagmire. I feel like I’m juggling 46 plates and losing sight of the important one’s. I remember reading Steven Covey’s book many years ago and thinking that’s a great way to live and find success. But, life happened and without any good excuse I just loss sight of my purpose and goals. However, I’m in a better place today in life and I’m redirecting my energy to prioritizing and focusing on what I truly enjoy doing — that is performing; doing magic at hospitals, conventions, banquets, birthday parties, etc.

    But, I needed to read your words because they were encouraging and a nudge to focus on my skills and seek help from those who have more experience in other areas that my business needs. I am totally motivated my your words of encouragement and to put things in perspective and make a purposeful plan for my success. Thank you, Paul.

  8. Paul Gertner: July 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Raymond, Glad you enjoyed that Blog post. I too loved Steven Covey’s material and used his system for years but at times I’ve let some of it slip by. I need to read the First Things First book again. I think as performers our hearts are on stage in front of an audience but all the other stuff is important to keep the shows coming in. Continued success to you.

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