What is your title today, this minute? Is it what you were trained to do or what you specialize in? Are you being pulled away from the very thing that makes your business profitable? Most business owners are wearing so many hats that they are limiting their own success. I think of the many responsibilities that I see practitioners taking on themselves on a weekly basis – practitioner, bookkeeper, human resources, negotiator, marketer, networker, purchasing agent, inventory control, manager, social media manager, sales person, etc., etc., etc. Welcome to being a small business owner! Or, does it have to be that way?
There are only a few core reasons why entrepreneurs and business owners choose to wear so many hats, and even though the list is short, the justifications can be very powerful to the person. Some feel it to be necessary because they have always done it this way – they are a ‘doer’. A few may not have the vision of what it would look like to delegate some tasks, or how it should work. Some have trust issues; They think someone else will screw it up, or even worse someone could do something dastardly like embezzlement! Some realize that there are ways to get around the first two issues, they just can’t find the time to pass off a hat to someone else.
For a business owner to grow, scale or focus on the activities that are critical to the success of their business, you need to consider the opportunity cost of your time. Some of that opportunity cost is quantifiable. For example, should you hire a bookkeeper at $30 per hour to handle all your data entry when you typically generate $1,000-$3,000 per hour for your time? Should you employ a manager to handle 90% of the responsibilities associated with running your business so you are able to concentrate on the very things that only you can do? And then you must consider the unquantifiable costs; Do you spend enough time with your family? Do you have enough time for hobbies or self-care? Don’t overthink it – this is about less stress and more income… in that order.
This concept may seem foreign, but you need to look at yourself as another employee and resource. You want the most from every team member. Make sure you are putting yourself on the right seat of the bus to get the best possible results for the business. At an annual salary of $7.5M do you think Alabama would have Nick Saban clean the stands after a game? We know the answer to that. The same applies to you, and you are no less valuable.
Every Level Presents New Devils
As every owner starts their business, they wear every hat purely out of utility and cashflow. As you grow and scale, you need to start looking for avenues to shift responsibilities to someone else in order to leverage your time. There are two primary questions to ask yourself in this situation; First, what skill or responsibility am I good at? Or answer this one in this way: Can someone else do this more efficiently, quicker or at a lower cost? The second question is this: What is the highest and best use of your time? Should you be in front of patients/clients more often? Should you spend more time with your loved ones?
Yes, there are a lot of questions and you need to be tough on the questions as well as the answers. Only you will prioritize yourself. Everyone else will take your time if you allow it. Every business owner and manager who has scaled their business as well as their individual role has had to reinvent their own position to break into the next level. Jeff Bezos does not fill your Amazon order, but he may have at one time.
Again, here you have two lines of thought: What is the expected result of your newly defined position and focus? And: What is the defined focus and result for the people who will leverage you? The result will be driven by good communication. Clarity of the expected outcome for yourself and those leveraging you is critical. Find the need and the right person for the right seat. That may not be your family and friends. Hire the person that will get the result! And step two to this master plan is to give them the desired result first. Don’t try to teach the individual how to do the job first. The outcome is the most important aspect here. For those of you who are concerned that “they won’t do it like me”, “they won’t get the results like me” or “I’ve heard stories about people stealing”: If you want this bad enough, you can and will leverage yourself through systems and communication. With a routine feedback and metric system, you will keep tabs on their performance while you are leveraged in your highest and best activities. They will understand the expectations and the desired results if they are required to report back on it on a schedule. Every client wants less stress and more money. The thought may be articulated in different ways, but the core reasons are all the same.
Does this sound like more work? Possibly. But this will be short lived. Consider this an investment in change and your future. Hopefully you are a bit fired up now and feel as if something has to change. If that’s the feeling, here is your action plan:
- Identify the things that only you can do legally.
- Identify the things that only you can do to lead the business.
- Identify the things that only you can do to generate income.
- Identify the qualities and traits that are your strengths and that mate with the answers to the first three action items.
- Identify the areas or things where you are not efficient or do not add value to your business.
- Pick one area of responsibility and hire to your weakness.
- Communicate the expected outcomes and result to be achieved by the person leveraging you.
- Block time for your new activities to ensure you create new habits and achieve your result.
- Expect feedback from the person leveraging you to ensure you know whether they are on track to meet your objectives.
- Give yourself and the new person enough rope to succeed. Remember, you both need enough to work through a few things to acclimate to the new role.
Shed the things that you are not good at and the things that do not add value to your business and watch yourself evolve into the leader that your company needs to hire for the next level of performance.