You, like all good entrepreneurs, acquired many skills, and wore many hats, as you nurtured your developing businesses. But the same versatility that helped you birth a company may now be causing more harm than good if it results in an “I’m too busy to pursue new ideas” or “I must do everything” mentality. Odd as it seems, the best business leaders find time to entertain and explore business-enhancing propositions, foster mutually beneficial relationships, and avoid becoming indispensable to their business.
Regardless of how many employees you have, if you believe you’re the only one who can make good things happen, or that you need to be involved in everything, then you’ve likely created an organization and operating model that allows clients to demand your hands-on involvement. That situation hampers scalability, resulting in stunted growth and missed revenue opportunities. Even worse, it traps you in an undesirable position. You will eventually discover you only have two options — continue to gut it out until you burn out, or break out from your current mindset and improve how you run your business.
Undoubtedly, your business exists because you are particularly intelligent, talented or persuasive. It’s appropriate for you to shoulder much of the burden of business building while figuring out how to best monetize your expertise. But as you evolve from a solopreneur / consultant to a legitimate business owner, you must also evolve your day-to-day responsibilities. Even if you enjoy doing the work (which is atypical — most business owners aspire to “graduate” to higher order thinking/doing) there is only so much face time you can provide. As you, and your business mature, you will realize that success is more closely associated with time than money. Time is the most precious asset because it is the most perishable. There is an abundance of clients, money, employees, projects, etc. But enlightened business owners understand the health of their business, and their personal happiness, is much more correlated with freedom and the ability to have choices. Until you learn how to appropriately step away from multiple aspects of your day-to-day operations, you will be enslaved by an unrelenting taskmaster, i.e., your company.
Time management is synonymous with growth management, and many entrepreneurs suck at time management. Therefore, their businesses fail to grow properly. Someone once said, “your expertise is manifest by the discipline you display in finding time to create thought leadership.” Ask yourself, “Am I an industry visionary and inspiring leader, or have I become a frustrating (and frustrated) bottleneck limiting my firm’s maximum potential?” The truth can be hard to swallow, but the evidence is hard to ignore.
Do any of these symptoms apply to you or your firm:
- Are you basically doing the same day-to-day job description you were 2–3 years ago?
- Have your revenues essentially plateaued, despite working harder than ever?
- Do you feel a personal obligation to handle every client inquiry?
- Have you turned down additional work because you personally didn’t have the bandwidth to handle it?
- Do you believe you only have two choices, 1) expand at the risk of delivering inferior service or 2) stay small but profitable by assuring clients of your personal involvement?
- Does your staff feel micromanaged? Or, are they sufficiently empowered to make meaningful decisions on their own?
You can enjoy greater growth and maintain a sense of control, but it requires a different way of thinking, and working. Specifically, it requires…
…access to skilled professionals capable of completing tasks with minimal oversight. Usually, more than half of the activities consuming your time could be delegated. Fortunately, you now have better options than incurring additional cost and risk by hiring full time staff. You don’t need more employees; rather, you need real time access to trusted craftspeople able and willing to produce work that you oversee. Don’t delegate critical tasks like improving your positioning, or formalizing strategic priorities. Also, personally maintain top-to-top relationships with clients (but that doesn’t mean you need to be in every meeting). Stay close to final deliverables associated with the most important projects, and be slow to delegate any decisions that may negatively impact your company culture. But most everything else should be pushed off your plate. Sooner rather than later.
…understanding that your goal isn’t to service clients, it is to create an asset that generates value beyond your own capabilities. Ably servicing clients is a way to provide value, but it’s a means to a greater end. Many people can provide great client care. And an equally large number of people can provide amazing deliverables. Far fewer know how to build lasting businesses that can scale and survive succession. Your entrepreneurial evolution requires you adopt new management skills that morph you from “star player” to “head coach”. If you can’t make that leap, you will never have the freedom and wealth you dreamed of when you started your business.
…a healthy dose of humility. Swagger and ego are great for blazing new trails and competing against more established competitors. But remain humble enough to admit you need some help. Being a business owner is hard. It requires diverse skill sets that few individuals have perfected. People working for themselves is fantastic, but people working by themselves is not. Seek out professional coaching (in groups or 1:1 settings) or find associations that help you learn from others. Many have been where you now are, and they are willing to provide council and support. Mentorship and coaching are valuable tools to overcome your career limiting beliefs, and socialization within a community of like-minded professionals provides fulfillment that will greatly aid you along your journey.
Commun-o.com is dedicated to helping you unlock your full potential. It promises a pathway to accelerated growth, with less risk and fewer demands on your finite time than other alternatives. You birthed a business with hopes and dreams about what it can accomplish. Now’s the time to invest the proper resources to ensure it grows healthy and strong.