Get out of your own way!
More often than not, business owners are. . . . involved. . . . in their businesses. Intimately. Down to the tiniest detail. They are connected to every aspect of our businesses. They know the ins and outs. They are passionate about and invested in the minutiae. They take it personally, and for good reason, as the success of the business is a personal reflection of our own success. They often want to know everything there is to know about the business. Here is the problem; it is extremely difficult to be involved in every aspect of the business and function like an owner at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong. The details, the minutia, and the specifics all matter. The daily, repeatable activities keep the wheels turning in a business. The issue is that those tiny details all too often take a business owner’s focus away from the big initiatives that keep things moving long-term. There comes a point in every business when the owner needs to take a step back from trying to handle everything so he or she can focus on the bigger picture in order to keep the business growing and thriving. At some point, all business owners need to act like business owners.
Business owners do their best work when they can focus most of their time and attention on the future, rather than the here and now. Spending time on Vision, Strategy, Goals, and the next big thing in the business allows a business to grow. Developing new partnerships, finding new customers and vendors, identifying the next market, location, product or service, discovering new ways to leverage current resources or find new ones, and identifying and developing talent; these are all activities on which strong business owners should focus. These are big, bold strokes that require time and energy, and those decisions are informed by the day to day details.
The classic response that I hear from clients, prospects, friends, and colleagues is “I have to handle it all because my business is not big enough to hire employees.” I completely understand. As a solopreneur myself, I recognize that feeling of needing to do everything simply because the funds are not there to bring on employees. All businesses go through the phase where owners have to do it all, and wear all the hats; the goal of growth is to move the business beyond that phase. The good news is that hiring is not the only answer. We live in an app-based, gig economy. If hiring an employee to whom you can delegate tasks is not the answer, could that same work be outsourced to a contractor? Bookkeeping, social media, web design, copywriting, project management, even fractional CMO and CFO work, can be outsourced on an hourly basis, allowing you to pay only for the work you need to be done. Add in technology solutions that can automate tasks and streamline processes— from accounting to expenses to tracking mileage and even managing your calendar— and even the smallest, scrappiest company can begin acting like a big organization.
The human and technological options are only worth the expense, however, if you use the time they save you wisely. Identify what you do best; those activities that add the most value to your organization and move you most efficiently toward your goals. Then, spend as much of your time, energy, and focus on those activities. You are the Owner, the Founder, the leader of your organization; get out of your own way and act like it!
P.S— If you want to learn more on the topic, including why we spend so much time as owners on the wrong things, what the right things look like, and how to identify and focus on them, check out my virtual workshop next week. See you there!