There are a bunch of sayings that resonate with almost all small business owners:
- If you want something done right….
- How do you eat an elephant….
- Every journey starts with a single step
- Time to make the Donuts!
- I only have 2 hands and 24 hours…
The reason that they do, is because as any small business owner knows all too well it takes a lot of drive and energy to successfully run and grow a small business. There are simply not enough resources or hours in the day to be able to stand back and do nothing but listen to the cash register ring. A good friend of mine was complaining recently that if he wanted to take a week off – it actually cost him at least two. One week winding down and clearing the decks effectively working at half speed, the week off and then the kicking off the following week from a standing start – ramping back up to full speed. Furthermore many small business owners feel that the only job security they have is hard work!
These are but some of the reasons small business owners become extremely reluctant to throttle back and so the go-go-go ethic becomes ingrained in our psyche. There other side of that coin is the view that much of the business that are felt too important to delegate. While this is admirable, it is also highly misguided. Certainly there are aspects that any business owner must and should keep control of, but these are much less than we allow ourselves to accept. Kind of like saying – well if I am not doing “that” then what do I really do around here?
The key is to understand that when you become the bottleneck (as you undoubtedly will), your business can then only move at the speed that you move. With the best will, all the energy and the best people in the world around you, there will be limits as to what you can achieve. This is what we mean when we say that you need to work on your business not in it. Simply put nine times out of ten, when it comes to growing a business, the business owner is the problem! Many highly successful businesses have been started in poor economic times – so while that is a factor it cannot be an excuse. If you have a viable concept then in order to grow you have to accept a shift in the way that you do things. Ask yourself if Donald Trump insisted on dealing the cards in his casino’s, counting the cash or controlling the casino floor, how big his operation would have got?
Systems run a company and people run systems. As a start up you got to do it all yourself since you did not have people. As your company grows, your job shifts from running the systems to running the people that run the systems. Being too busy is simply no longer a valid excuse because if you do not sort it out then you only have yourself to blame. Or if you truly cannot – then you either own a job not a business or have bigger problems!
Try monitoring yourself for a full month and log everything that you do each half hour of the day. When you analyze where your time went, ask yourself if where you are spending your time is truly something that only you can do or if you feel satisfied that that was the absolute best use of your time? It goes without saying that you will need to be prepared to “buy” your time back by paying someone else to do it for you. The payback is that it frees you up to concentrate on the high impact things that will move the business forward.
I’ll bet that most of you are spending less than 20 hours per month on strategic items, in fact most are probably spending less than 10. The bad news is that to be balanced you should be spending around 40 – 50 hours per month doing this. The good news is – the potential is all upside!