It’s tough being a business owner. You are inevitably someone’s mentor, someone’s Operations Manager, someone’s HR manager, someone’s Sales Manager, the list goes on, and we at Avo often find it’s the business owner themselves who has the hardest time letting go of decision making. And we get it! We know why this is the case, we are after all, business owners ourselves so we completely understand the need to double check every decision, and make sure that we own every product or set of work leaving our company. The reality however is that it isn’t always humanly possible to be everything to everyone all of the time. In fact this mind-set often does the very opposite of what we are hoping it will do. We hope that our being involved in absolutely everything will make it perfect, but it doesn’t. It alienates staff, and creates a bottleneck for decision making delaying service to customers.
But this article isn’t on what the issues are, you already know them! This is about how you can take steps to remove the issues so that you can focus on what’s important. Growing your business and supporting it in such a way that you ensure new clients, new business, new strategies and all the other great ‘new’ things we focus on when we are wanting to expand.
If you take a journey back into your youth when your view of the world was changing on almost a daily basis, and you look for the reasons behind those changes, you can’t help but notice that many of your views changed because you were exposed to new people and new ideas. Those ideas could have come from any source; a textbook, an interesting teacher or even just a friend. The point is that we change our world-view based on new information, or a new way of looking at things. So how does this apply to your business? As your business grows it has certain needs depending on its development. Kind of like a child. When it’s new, like a baby, it requires constant nurturing and attention. It requires flexibility in terms of how you handle product development, pricing and client interactions, but once it gets into a rhythm it’s like a small child.
It still requires a lot of time but you are more comfortable with what to expect. You know the routine, your clients know the services, what to expect in terms of quality, costing etc, and it is generally dependable. So before you get too comfortable shouldn’t you be looking at ways to improve your business? Ways to grow it, and ways to ensure viability into the future? It is at this stage, that as a business owner, you are in the best possible position to be making informed choices and looking at things slightly differently. You know what works and what doesn’t, and a new perspective and new ideas can still be built into the bedrock of the growing organisation.
At this point you wander off and enrol at the nearest business school, only to find out that the hardest thing about that MBA isn’t actually the course work, it’s the course load! It is often at this point that a business owner will run for the hills citing work commitments, and it is also at this point that the business owner has a crucial decision to make. Do I stick it out, take the time away from my business and invest into myself and my company’s future, or do I throw in the towel and clear my to-do list?
If that sounds a little supercilious, it isn’t intended to! But my Avo’ team and myself believe that the best way to grow as a business, a person and a business owner, is to invest in training every time! So how do you make the time?
You have to surround yourself with strong, knowledgeable, capable people. People willing to own a problem and work it to resolution. In many large corporate environments, the person doing the hiring won’t necessarily hire the strongest candidate, for fear of being outgrown by a candidate at some point. When you have your own business, it’s the other way around. We look for the strongest, most committed, most knowledgeable people we can lay our hands on, and we take advantage of their commitment (in the best possible way of course). The only way you can trust people to fill in for you when you aren’t around, is to ensure you have the right people!
You can’t have strong people, or knowledgeable people, without investing in their growth too. Every single person on your payroll should have a growth or development plan built around what you require from them in the future so that you can begin to allocate responsibility to them. Experience is vital, but so is the knowledge that will enable them to make informed choices about your business. The better informed they are, the less they will need to escalate to you!
Ahh trust. Such a small word for such a momentous item on our list. Trust in a team isn’t given overnight. It’s the culmination of allowing them to make decisions and learn from them. It’s knowing how they will react in situations, but until you let them make their own decisions and live by the consequences of those decisions, they won’t have the experience that you need them to have, so that you can trust them. It’s that devilish chicken and egg scenario all over again.
You would think that this is the same as trust, but it is a totally different ball game. The business owners we work with generally have a hard time delegating. The phrase “It’s easier to do it myself because then I know it’s done right”, echoes through the corridors at Avo’ repeatedly. True you can’t delegate if you don’t trust, but at some point that leap of faith has to occur. A willingness to loosen the reins just a smidgen, and delegate work to people, has to come from the business owner. Expect the occasional issue, and expect that it won’t be your way every time, but also expect to learn from your team, and maybe find a little faith in your team as you progress.