Work on Your Business, Not In Your Business

Family Business: Change

Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs because they’re go-getters who aren’t afraid of working long, hard hours, learning whatever new skills they need to succeed, and keeping a tight control over every facet of their business to make sure that everything goes according to plan. They’re like Burt in Mary Poppins with his one-man band, or a vaudeville performer spinning plates or basketballs on poles and racing back and forth to keep the whole thing from toppling over.

In the beginning, entrepreneurs and new business owners have to work this way because they’re often alone or part of an extremely small crew. They need to fight tooth and nail to get the company off the ground and keep it from going under.

Family Business: Business ConsultingBut working this way is exhausting, stressful, and frustrating. On a personal level, it can lead to burnout, but for your business, it can cause mistakes. Long term concerns that are important to the business’s future (the things that the company head should be working on) tend to be pushed to the backburner in favor of tasks that absolutely have to be completed in a timely manner. And perhaps even more importantly, companies can’t expand if there’s only one person to handle every single task.

The solution is obvious: you have to take a step back from day-to-day operations so you can free yourself up for big picture problems. But saying that and doing it are two very different things, so here are some things you need to think about (and, possibly, fix) before you move full steam ahead.

Change your mindset. It’s not easy to go from the person who does everything to looking for new people to hire or current employees to develop to take on what have been your responsibilities. Not only will you have to learn new things (like how to scout potential workers, how to interview people effectively, and how to manage), you’ll need to break habits as well so that you aren’t constantly hovering over your employees and making them feel like you don’t have any trust in them.

Put systems into place. Delegating to employees doesn’t mean that you have to give up all of your control. In fact, before you hire people to sit at desks (or however it works in your company), it’s vital that you lay down the law in terms of how things should work. You need systems and procedures for how each department should work both independently and as a cohesive group for the betterment of the entire organization. This means learning how to put into words all of that plate-spinning that you were doing, as well as finding process improvements that you always intended to implement but never had time for while running yourself ragged.

Employees or freelancers? You may think that it doesn’t matter a whole lot as long as you get good people, but there are big differences between the two – both to your bottom line and in how much control you have over them. Hiring someone as an employee means that you can do things like hold work reviews, discipline them for poor work or behavioral issues, and (if they’re salaried) ask them to take on extra work for the good of the company without extra pay. However, you also may have to pay for things like extra taxes, insurance, and sick and vacation days, as well as less-considered amenities such as restrooms, break rooms, desks, computers, and so on. A good freelancer can be a fantastic way to get the help you need while still keeping your business lean and mean.

The right people… and the wrong ones. When hiring people, regardless of whether they’re freelancers or employees, it’s important that you take the time to ensure that they are the right ones for you and your business. That means they have to be smart and talented, obviously, but it’s just as important that you work well together and possess the ability to communicate effectively. No matter what, though, having someone work for you means that you’re creating the possibility that you may have to fire them if things don’t go well. With employees, that process is a lot harder than it is with freelancers.

You can do better than, well, you. As good as entrepreneurs are at wearing lots of hats, the best ones freely admit that there are a lot of people out there who are better at doing things like accounting, marketing, and whatever other tasks it takes to run the day-to-day operations. Sure, you can become moderately skilled in graphic design with a little research and practice, but don’t you think someone who’s been doing it for a decade will do a better job?

Consider a business consultant. If you’ve been mired in the day-to-day operations for some time now, it’s often hard to see the forest through the trees. While it’s true that no one knows your business like you do, sometimes being too close is the problem. You might want to look into working with an outside person who has experience running a business, has guided others go through this process, and is knowledgeable about the long-term, big picture issues you will now be focusing on. Business consulting with a consultant that understands internet marketing, and how to grow a business can be invaluable resource for entrepreneurs who need a different perspective.

No matter what, it’s all about delegation. Find the right people to come in and help you, and you’re ensuring that the regular operations of the business will run just fine without you so that you can free yourself up to concentrate on growth.

Posted: 1/14/2013 11:50:20 AM by Shep Morrow